Previous to our less-than-satisfactory visit to the ER, I had had an appointment with my naturopath, Robin. I had described my symptoms to her and she’d done a few, non-invasive tests. She had felt there was not anything seriously wrong with me, but had asked me to keep a food journal, thinking that the attacks were perhaps triggered by an unknown food allergy or sensitivity. We had a follow-up appointment with her just 3 days after our trip to the ER.
On the day of my appointment Jeremy was able to take the morning off and accompany me. I was so blessed to have his support as well as the comfort of seeking counsel from a woman who viewed her practice as a ministry and started her consultations with prayer. Today I was hoping that the negative test results from the doctors would help us narrow down the cause for the attacks.
Robin looked over my food diary as she listened sympathetically to our account of the ER visit. She concluded that it did not seem as if any particular food I was eating was triggering an attack. She agreed that it didn’t seem to be my heart or a lung problem. But said she did have an idea. I was on the edge of my seat to know what she thought could be the root of my problem. What she said next would change my life.
I can remember right where I sat and just how the sunshine slanted through the consulting room window as Robin spoke. She gently explained that she felt I was having panic attacks induced by stress.
My first response was denial – I didn’t feel stressed! I had a great life. I didn’t have to work outside the home, I had a great husband, a healthy child, and supportive extended family. I only had one child, for pity’s sake – how stressed could I be?
She went on to theorize that the stress was due to living to please others – fear of man. She asked if I worried a lot about what people thought about me?
Suddenly a light went off in my mind as bright as the clear winter sunshine coming in the window. Truth shone on something I’d been blind to all my life – I lived my life and made every decision in light of man’s approval. I believed my worth was based on my performance, and my standards were impossibly high. And when I failed, I was letting down myself and everyone I cared about pleasing (which was pretty much everyone – including perfect strangers). This mindset kept me in constant state of high-level stress that I was completely unaware of because it had been this way as long as I could remember.
It was for this Jesus died! He is my Savior, not just from my sin, but from the need to be good enough!
As I realized this for the first time, I began to weep. I felt a breath of hope – I saw how my life could be different, I caught a glimpse of what it would be like to be free. But I was instantly overwhelmed at how much I had to change! I felt my whole brain had to be re-wired, for the stress-inducing thought patterns were pervasive, affecting every relationship and every area of my life.
Robin and Jeremy joined me in prayer, asking God for what, to me, felt like major brain surgery. Robin gently reminded me that the only two beings I am called to please are God and my husband. My stress came from elevating others opinions to the same level or even higher than my call to serve God and my husband. I needed to only strive to please God and my husband, and give the rest to the Lord. I cried out to God, “Father, burn this truth in my mind and heart!”
So, to my regime of supplements (digestive enzymes,vitamin B, and a calcium and magnesium supplement) and a diet focused on avoiding foods that seemed to put strain on my digestive system, I purposed to add a good dose of scripture and prayer, hoping for my mind to be renewed and for God to heal me from the inside out.
The question was, would it work? Could I overcome a life-long habit of obsessing over what others thought of me, and a performance-based sense of worth? Time would tell…
Not sure where to start to overcome your anxieties and fears? Prayer and opening yourself up to the care and counsel of others can provide clarity and direction. Remember, I’m just an email away and I want to pray for you. trina @ trinaholden . com