It would be impossible for me to count the number of roommates I have had over my lifetime. While sharing apartments with friends in my wandering days, it was not uncommon for someone to live with us for a few months at a time and sleep on the floor or the couch. More often than not, I would grow weary of unwanted loiterers, and I would kick them out after reaching my breaking point. Several years ago, I had to kick an undesirable squatter out of my heart. Somewhere, at some unknown moment, Fear decided to take up residence in my life and I found out too late that I had actually handed him the key to come and go as he pleased. The years 2009-2012 were the shadow years of fear in my life. Amy saw me at my worst then, very different than I had been in our previous years of marriage together. She showed amazing love and compassion to me in my weakness, and she still does when fear wants to creep back in to spend a day or two. I have been candid with our church family about that personal season of struggle which characterized what had been, up until then, a very bold, courageous and confident Christian journey. Simply put, anxiety does not always disappear quickly, so we are faced with the choice of how to move forward without a guarantee that our inner-sea will always be calm. Ed Welch is a brilliant Christian counselor who posted the article below on his website http://www.ccef.org/ . If, like I, you have struggled with bouts of fear, you will be helped if you take some time to read what he has written. You may also be helped if you review the videos, articles and other resources on CCEF’s website. If you understand what it is to wrestle with anxiety, or if you love someone else who struggles with it, take a moment and read Ed’s vulnerable words below and be helped.
Peace to you,
AN UPDATE ON FEAR
An update on my own fears. 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 counter-intuitive 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.
Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D. is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF. He earned a Ph.D. in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over 30 years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions. His books include: When People Are Big and God is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame it on the Brain; Depression—A Stubborn Darkness; Running Scared; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away From Addiction; and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety.
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