I never considered myself an anxious person—I was always pretty laid back
But the birth of our fourth child last Spring was a bit traumatic. When we came home with her I found myself jittery and worried all the time. I started having panic attacks…I didn’t know what they were. All I knew was that I couldn’t breathe. I could hear myself breathing in and out but my lungs didn’t feel like they were taking air in. I felt like I was being strangled. When my husband was home, he would just hold me and tell me it was ok, that I was breathing even if I didn’t feel like I was. He would pray for me and tell me to slow my breathing down. After about two-five minutes, the attack would subside. It made no sense to me! Hadn’t everything turned out just fine? Wasn’t the baby ok? Then what was my problem!? I didn’t feel like I had the right to be anxious. I felt guilty for having this physical response that was in my mind, not even tied to any lasting tragedy or loss. It made no sense to me. I waited for it to go away, six months later it remained.
During this time, any small stress could potentially freeze me or send me into panic mode. Any hiccup in my plans or surprise illness in my kids would create a cyclone of worry and fear. And yet, the voice of God, a promise of peace. It spoke so softly at first, it was like a whisper of a far off hope. It took root in me, this seed of a promise. It became the prayer I would pray through strangled tears, like an accusation, like a plea from a beggar, “Lord, you promised me peace. Why can’t I find it.” So I started begging God to show me what was happening to me and to teach me about peace in the middle of chaos (because that’s what my life is right now with four kids and both my husband and I working).
I was so desperate, I took a day off of work and I began to search. Not just reading my Bible, but a Bilbo Baggins strap on your pack and set off for a distant mountain search for peace and joy and relief from this crippling fear in scripture. Who had it? How did they get it? And from the first day I sat down with my coffee and began this journey, I could sense Jesus sitting there with me, showing me in his word and through gentle reminders in my everyday life, how He could BE my peace and He could help me to carry a light and easy burden. I wanted this more than anything else, I needed to know he was present and that He was able to actually handle every heavy thing I carried. He asked me to write as I learned, to write as a way of learning…I’m a teacher by trade so I’m used to building curriculum, but I didn’t know what I was writing at first. Now I am convinced that this thing He has been teaching me is something He wants for all of us…a light load, an easy burden. And it’s not just a possibility, it’s a necessity for our survival in this world.