Several years ago my mom (The Preacher's Wife) asked me to speak at a Ladies Brunch at our church. She saw something that I had not noticed yet. I hesitantly said yes, knowing that this was the first time I ever spoke in front of people and the first time I ever shared my testimony. I would like to share it now with you:
A Butterfly Stuck In Her Cocoon
What is it like to look forward to something and Not think about every possible scenario that could go wrong; I don't know!! Ever since I was a little kid I have had a secret, many thought I was just shy, but the reality was I was suffering from anxiety. When I was little, I would literally stay up all night thinking that someone could break into our house or worry about what is going to happen the next day. Sometimes I would lie awake and wonder "why am I here?". Often times I would go to sleep as the sun started to rise because I figured it was safe then, or if I was really tired during the night I would sneak into my brother's room and sleep in there until dawn and then sneak back into my room before anyone saw me. I hated Birthday parties, field trips anything that would take me into the unknown. We moved a few times when I was young and the worst times in my childhood were the days leading up to the first day at a new school. I remember my first day at a new high school - I was a sophomore and my dad and I were waiting for the school bus (which is a whole other nightmare) as soon as that bus drove past my stop (without stopping) I broke down and could not keep the tears in any longer, I didn't want to go.
There were tons of inner battles in my life and I realize now how much they held me back. I would find safe places and stay there, I fought leaving. I was anxious about everything I did, how I looked, I had extremely low-self esteem. I took an aptitude test in high school and I was told that I should be a Social Worker, but my first thought was "I can't do that" so I opted to go to paralegal school because that was a second field that I scored well in (I didn't finish) but a little flicker of something started in my heart, that flicker was the desire to help people.
I hated the way I looked - I would turn to things like hair dye, make-up, fad diets and you wouldn't believe how much money I have spent on ab loungers, rollers, weight benches and exercise videos. But the reality is, I can go from being a long-haired, chunky brunette to a short-haired, skinny red head but I'm still the same inside. Whatever I did to my outside didn't change the fact that I was a mess inside and only Jesus can fix that part.
I was a butterfly stuck in my cocoon. Can you imagine trying to fly around with that burden. Up until recently I didn't understand that I didn't have to live this way. I have been through a lot in my life and the details really don't matter as much as the fact that I have been anxious about something my whole life. You cannot function like this and you cannot function the way God wants you to function like this.
Isn't it amazing how He knows all of our faults, sins, and the ridiculous things that we think and do and yet He has a calling on each of us. Because He knows what He is capable of doing in our lives.
"Be Still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10 This verse has always been one of my favorites, however, it has always eluded me. Anxiety prevented me from living this verse. Be Still - my mind would not shut off in order for me to be still, there were times when I believe God was yelling at me to shut up so He could get a thought into my head. Know that I am God - I AM GOD, means that all things are possible, He knows everyone, He has a plan for Everyone, and HE has a peace that is beyond all understanding. That is very hard for an anxious person to grasp and yet I longed for that peace.
Several years ago the Lord let me know that he had a plan for me, a different plan than what I thought I was going to be doing. I had always worked with kids, I was the babysitter during my high school years, I was a nanny before we had our own kids, I love kids and I always thought my calling would be with kids. But He told me No. So I was confused since that was the area where I was comfortable (kind of like a COCOON). He wanted me to serve others, other ADULTS (but adults judge so much more than kids). But I was obedient and I started taking steps to learn how to help adults. That desire started flickering again and I realized that I could do this. I had always been told that I would be good at counseling and finding answers, researching. I also knew that the Lord would equip me with the knowledge and wisdom if he was truly calling me to do this, I had learned this through the study Experiencing God as a Church.
I knew that the issues that my husband and I had gone through could be used to witness to others. For example, we had several miscarriages and then infertility issues that ruled at least 5 years of our lives. We went through a time when we had the desire to move back home but having to be patient and wait on the Lord proved to be a very difficult time in our lives and marriage. I realized that many people go through these same or similar issues. So the Lord started putting things on my heart and I slowly started following His lead, I would get excited. Then that cocoon would slip over my head again and I wouldn't be able to see clearly, the dream was developing in my heart and yet there was a battle in my mind. I would focus on all the things in my life that I could worry about and not actually do anything to solve. I must have said the Serenity Prayer daily yet I could not seem to put it into action. This past year I started having health problems and the drs. could not figure out what was going on. I went to a cardiologist and pulmonologist, I was having chest pains, muscle weakness, breathing problems, insomnia, I was miserable and I was making my family miserable at the same time.
Finally, I started to open my eyes and see this huge cocoon resting on my back. A friendly Highway patrol man was the first to show me. I now think of him as an angel that the Lord sent, although at the time I thought of him as something else entirely. Getting that speeding ticket not only sent my anxiety to the peaks but it woke me up to the fact that I can't breathe up there. I realized that I was under so much stress that it was literally causing my body to retaliate and I was actually putting myself and my babies into dangerous situations. I realized that I was going in ten different directions and none of them were towards Jesus. Trying to deal with a special needs child, a toddler, my husband's difficult job, my job and to accomplish things at home was more than my body could take let alone what my mind could take. But I had become super mom & I was good at it, I had only cried myself to sleep a few times after learning about my child's disabilities, yeah I was tired but there are mom's out there who have four kids, I only have two (sometimes three) and don't all husbands and wives fight over $7.00, besides God doesn't give us more then what we can handle right - wrong- there is nothing that we can't handle when we are with Him.
1 John 4:4 says greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. That is where the problem was I was trying to do all this but I was missing a very important step. I discovered that when you are constantly going on adrenalin eventually it is going to take it's toll so I started to take steps to reduce that stress but it still wasn't enough. I was still anxious. I graduated from my counseling course and yet I knew I wasn't quite ready to start this new ministry. I was making progress but then that cocoon would slip down again and I wouldn't be able to see. Then the Lord spoke to me about my anxiety, He told me flat out - "I trust you, why can't you trust me" Isaiah 26: 3-4 "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal.That hit me hard. I realized that I could not go on until this anxiety issue was gone.
I got on my knees (in the bathroom) and prayed for forgiveness and for guidance. Was I supposed to go to the Dr. or was I to wait for the Divine healing. I decided to wait for the Divine healing. Apparently, I still wasn't listening to what He wanted me to do.
Then I got a rash! Not just an ordinary bug bite rash, this thing was under my eyes down my cheeks and approaching my neck. It itched, burned, was swollen and red. I suffered for about 4 days before I couldn't take it anymore. I went to the Dr. The doctor told me that somehow I had come in contact with something that caused an allergy induced eczema and he prescribed me an oral medication and recommended some creams. I dragged my girls to the drug store, and between waiting the thirty minutes for it to be filled and arguing with my girls, I was suffering and now feeling sick to my stomach. It was one of the worst days of my life. I grabbed the bottle as soon as I got into the house, opened it and took two. It wasn't 15min. later that I was asleep. I slept for about an hour and then went into the kitchen to put some stuff away. On the counter was the information sheet that came with the prescription, I decided that I better read it since I had already taken some. The first line of the "Common uses" section was - "This medicine is used to treat anxiety as well as allergy related issues"
I get it Lord. And I surrendered! John 12:24 -Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much grain.
That is what He wanted, that is what HE wanted all along. I had learned about surrendering from a book called the Dream Giver. I learned that when something is really important to you, you have to surrender it back to Him because no matter what it is, it is not more important that your relationship with God, it is not more important than Him. I had surrendered several issues to God over the years, My husband's job situation, having a second child and God had answered my prayers the way I was hoping for, but I had yet to surrender myself. When I read that information sheet on the prescription and I realized what had happened - I smiled & laughed because in that instant I surrendered my heart. Surrendering is an attitude of the heart not the mind.
Since then He has explained to me that He wanted me to be free - free from my burdens, free from anxiety, free to feel that PEACE that is beyond all understanding and in order to do that I had to surrender to Him because only He can set me free. Usually when you think of surrendering you think of giving up and becoming a prisoner to someone, someone else has control over you, you are in bondage somehow. But not with God, when you surrender to Him you have freedom, liberty and with that comes Peace, Joy, Hope all of those wonderful gifts that God wants us to have, He wants us to have those so badly that HE gave his son to die on the cross, to set us free. I realized The cross is my statue of liberty.
"Then you will know the truth and the Truth will set you free" John 8:32
John 14: 6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life"
So here I am, liberated, free and I can honestly say that I have had 3 months of Joy and Peace, I have had moments of worry but now I can "Be Still and know that HE is God" I can quiet my mind and trust Him to take care of everything.
Isaiah 61:1-3 I am a recipient of these verses and now I have been called to help others become recipients of these verses.
I love to read - mostly historical fiction, my friend and I have discussed how we think we were born a century too late. I look at my life and I realize that it is like one of those great romance novels - A damsel in distress, a knight in shining armor, villains, there are sad times, humorous times, great triumphs and I guarantee a happy ending.
I end this with two thoughts for you:
The Cross is your Statue of Liberty
Jesus is your knight in shining armor