Jesus Makes Me Complete
Panic attacks suck. I remember the relief I felt when I first realized what that feeling was called. It’s taken almost my whole life but I finally have learned how to talk myself out of them before they start. As a child they were more of a nightmare. A bad dream that my dad died in a fire in the bowling alley, or thinking I was going to die from AIDS (I didn’t even know what the latter was — just that it was scary). Talk of wars breaking out or even discussion in church about the end of the world, would send my brain into overdrive. In fact, these would all terrify me. I could never count how many times I crawled into the end of my parents bed at night, knowing I was safe there.
And the panic attacks never happened during the day, only at bedtime when I was all by myself. As I got older, they became less of a nighttime thing and more of an anytime thing. I remember talking about the breakout of the Gulf War and how it could change our world. It was a million miles away but when my brain was given a moment to dwell on its devastation, my heart would race. My thoughts would scatter and fear would settle in. It only lasted a few minutes each time but when it was over, I felt like I had been sucker punched.
They went away for a few years. I guess my brain decided my life was crazy enough that it could leave me alone. They came back when I became a mom. The mom ones are the worst. They started in pregnancy as simple worries in the same way most mothers experience. The ‘what if’ I fall and lose the baby, for example, so I treaded carefully wherever I went. What if something happens during labour and I die? I’ll never know my baby and he will never know me. What if I am not a good mom? The list became endless. When my son was little, I noticed that my panic attacks were all focused on him…..but even these were never as bad as the ones I had once I became a single mom.
Those nights, I would stay up and watch him breathe as my heart raced. I was scared about losing him. Scared that I wouldn’t or couldn’t give him the right life. Scared I would die and he would have no one to cherish him. Those were the worst, especially since it was hard to talk myself down from them. I also remember the very first time, I had one in the middle of the day. I was at work, sitting in the back room eating my lunch. It came out of nowhere. My heart started racing twice as fast as normal. So much so that I had to force myself to breathe. At that moment, I was terrified I was going to die.
My only response was to sit in our waiting area and watched my boss Gordon cut hair. By focusing on something else completely, it would help to calm me down. This happened about five times at work. Each one manifested differently and I knew that right from the start. But once I was able to recognize one coming on, I was able to calm myself down before the panic took over my very being.
What is interesting is that they would pop up at strange moments — never as bad but always when I least expected one. Today, it was a thought about what I would do if my son was seriously injured. Granted, it only lasts a moment but these made me realize something. They only happen when my faith in God has been tested. I knew the ones I had at work were the result of someone thinking about me while he practiced witchcraft. This conclusion, I found out when an old boyfriend revealed his ‘religion’ to me. Those awful attacks stopped when he committed suicide.
Still, my faith has always been strong but little moments of trouble in my life — even when they don’t involve me directly, can crack it just enough to let satan mess with my mind. Just enough to let panic take over my faith. And those few seconds? They can change a whole day if I let them. But the good news is that I’ve now learned to pray when I feel one coming on. I just talk to Jesus, thanking Him for all that He has given me. The crack that was intent in ruining my day closes and my heart becomes calm.
So the next time you feel lost or scared or directionless, or a panic attack coming on — PRAY and let Jesus fill the cracks. It’s the best feeling ever.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)