Monday, January 28, 2013

The Gift

Today was good ... for a while, anyway! And then slowly, very slowly, the stress and tension returned and I could feel every fiber of my being start to twitch as I headed towards a severe (physical) panic attack. So, I did the only thing I could do ... I jumped into my car and drove over to my church.

Thank God for the sanctuary at my church because it truly has become a sanctuary for me - especially during times like these - and today was no different. I spent 90 minutes there this afternoon, in prayer and communion with God.

Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, 
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
~ Psalm 28:2

One of the things I realized this morning, after reading this verse, is that while I have spent the last five days crying out to the Lord, my cries have been focused on the why and how of my suffering, instead of asking for the Lord's help to get me through each moment. Shame on me!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; 
A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
~ Psalm 51:17

Let's face it: physically I am really having a hard time right now. And, while I have reached out to a couple of my pastors and requested their prayers, I have not really reached out to the One I most need to help me get through this pain. Not in the way that I should, at least. O Father, forgive me!

Another thing I realized this morning is that while I have been struggling with this situation, I have also been fighting it. Let me explain:

Years ago my parents were getting ready to board a transatlantic flight. Waiting in the gate area with them was a family of five: mom, dad and three young children, one of whom was throwing a very loud -- and very fierce -- temper tantrum! 

When the mom returned from using the ladies room, my mother struck up a conversation with this young woman and complimented her on how well she was handling the situation, especially because she could see that all of the other people in the waiting area were getting quite annoyed, and my mom could tell that they were really hoping this temper tantrum would end before boarding began. So what was that young woman's response to my mom? 

"I've learned that it begins when it begins and it ends when it ends, and there's nothing I can do until that happens."  

Smart woman!

And, that's exactly what I need to remember: During those moments of stress, anxiety and panic, when my body starts shaking nonstop and I feel myself shutting down, I need to focus on staying present, clinging to the Lord and crying out to Him, knowing that this, too, shall pass -- whenever He chooses to allow it to end.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
~James 1:17

One of the final revelations I had today came this afternoon while I was in the church sanctuary. It took the entire 90 minutes of being there for the shaking to stop and for me to reach the point where I could catch my breath. Ninety minutes of crying out to God for His comfort, asking Him for His help to stay focused and present in my body, clinging to His strength because I had none of my own.

And that's when I realized it: this entire situation is actually a gift from God. A gift of His choosing. A gift He actually chose for me!

Why? I have NO idea! But obviously, there is something I need to learn from it. And, there is something that He wants to accomplish through it.

Several months ago, I read this quote by Mother Teresa: I know God loves me. I just wish He didn't trust me so much! And that's exactly how I feel!

Right now I'm okay. I am present in my body and I'm okay. How long will it last? I don't know. But I am very grateful for this exact moment in time. And, if, in the moment after this one, things start to get bad, I hope I can remember to cry out to the One Who loves me more than I will ever know; Who chose to give me this gift and Who promises to be with me always. All I need do is ask!

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