There’s a beast in my life, hiding just below the surface, in the background, like a low grade fever. Occasionally, sometimes as a result of stress, but sometimes for no reason at all, it spikes into a monster beyond all reason. Its name is anxiety disorder.
I grew up with it, but I didn’t know its name until I was an adult. I’m adopted, so there was no one in my family like me. No one understood me. They just thought I was a ‘nervous child’. That’s one reason I advocate open adoption, or at least full access to family members’ medical records. But because I was adopted in the ‘70s, those things were not available. Yes, I am that old, although you wouldn’t know it, because I am so smokin’ hot. For those of you who know me in real life, not a word.
Anyway, when I was in my 20s, I started reading things about anxiety disorder. Still, it took me several years to talk to a doctor about this thing. Why? First, at that time, doctor appointments made me anxious, and my doctor wasn’t at all understanding. Secondly, I thought she would think I was crazy. I certainly did.
I finally got up the courage to make the appointment. Even the though the doctor was a bit of a jerk, I did find out that that I do indeed have anxiety disorder-a kind of brain chemical imbalance. I’m not crazy after all! Well, not for that reason anyway. I realize homeschooling four kids and going to college at the same time is a valid reason to question my sanity.
Here’s what has happened since then-I switched doctors to one who listens to me, and also knows his stuff. I am taking medicine to correct the chemical imbalance. And I have learned that my brain is sending false signals. The fight or flight that it is sending is most likely a lie. Knowing that sometimes helps, sometimes not. Also, deep breathing exercises are more useful than hyperventilating.
Here’s something I didn’t expect: someone like me in the Bible. His name was Gideon. He has a great story, but the part I want to tell you about is in the book of Judges, chapter six. I grew up being afraid of EVERYTHING. Gideon was so afraid of the Midianites (in his defense-they were jerks), he was threshing wheat in a winepress. To thresh wheat properly you need a fairly large space. A winepress was a small space. Not at all the ideal place for threshing wheat. Not only was Gideon not going to get much wheat in that winepress, the fact that he was down there meant that he was completely terrified.
So this is where God found him. Hiding. The name Gideon means ‘mighty warrior’, and that is what God called him. He had a pretty gutsy mission for him. Gideon was afraid and put God through several tests, just to make sure He had the right guy.
The most interesting thing is what God did not do. He didn’t say, “Dude. Seriously. Just go and do the thing.” He didn’t say, “You’re just being a wimp here. Just get over it.” He didn’t say, “It’s all in your head. You’ll be fine.” He was gentle and patient with Gideon. He understood where Gideon was coming from, and was tender with him. That makes me realize that when I’m afraid, and when my brain is sending me weird signals, God knows what’s going on. He’s gentle with me too. It gives me a whole lot of comfort to know that even when the rest of the world doesn’t understand what’s going on with me, my Creator does, and that’s pretty cool.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”-Psalm 139:13-14
Published by Summer Lane