An update on my own fears.1 A few months ago, I had a panic attack. Its appetite continues to be insatiable. More, more! Fears love to keep encroaching into everyday life. It’s as if a black hole lives inside of you. Life and even sleep are sucked into it.
Here are some things that have helped and some things I am learning.
I have asked people to pray. I have asked for prayer that I would know more of Jesus and find relief through my rest in him. My wife, especially, has been a champion pray-er. I tease her that she has more invested in this than most. Who wants to be married to a neurotic basket case? But her prayers are for me rather than her.
I wear blinders. Have you seen horses with blinders on their eyes so they don’t get spooked on city streets? I am trying to wear those too. At first, my fears seemed beyond my control and my mind was not my own, but fears can be fought. Each day has times when I have to practice this tunnel vision. This sounds counterintuitive, but it’s faith-based. Fear wants our attention but not so we can overcome it—it wants to control us. Blinders are a statement of faith: God will care for these anxieties; I will focus on the grace given me today—not the fears.
I pray more than ever. Fears, done well, can be a spiritual boost, and overall, they have been that for me. If a criterion for spiritual growth is time in prayer, I am growing.
I find that there is a lot in life that can provoke my fears. My fears are of a certain variety. I do not fear everything there is to fear. Bugs, heights, crowds, planes, and all kinds of other things don’t make the list. But it seems as though the things that make the list are on a loop machine that is constantly playing. I am amazed that so many conversations, news reports, movies, and random comments can remind me of my fears.
I find that I am not alone. Misery does not necessarily enjoy company, but I am startled by how much company it has. There are a lot of Christians who fight near-overwhelming fear everyday. There are a lot of men who have experiences that fit panic attacks. A lot.
I have meditated on how I am in Christ, not Adam. There are so many ways we can be helped in our trouble. This particular way might sound esoteric, but it gets to the very heart of New Testament thought.
It goes like this. I was once in Adam. I was part of a family tree with a problematic past, an isolated present, and a hopeless future. For some reason, I was taken from that line and adopted into the line of Jesus. I have redemption and therefore God’s presence now, and (unbelievably) an inheritance to come. In light of this event—being brought into Jesus—present struggles seem less significant.
1 See “Help from Someone who Has Been There.”