Everyone is trying to master the art of being fearless. Anxiety attacks, panic attacks, stress, tension, phobias, are all common terminologies these days. During the past year, I have learned that anxiety, based on fear, never truly goes away. It's the courage that overcomes
the fear. It can completely diminish that feeling. While praying one morning, I was asking God to give me strength with something I was dealing with. I had a lot of fear and anxiety over this one particular issue. I opened up my Bible and came to this scripture: "I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources, He will give you mighty inner strength
through His Holy Spirit."--Ephesians 3:16. So by His strength, your fear is unnoticeable. It's still there, but the inner strength will conquer it. I've been known to cry out, "I just wish my anxiety would go away,"
but that kind of thinking isn't going to do anything other than amplify it. Whatever you resist, persists. It's when you let it stay there, but you pray for "mighty inner strength from God" that makes you overcome anything you're afraid of. It works. It does take time, but it works. From being a scared agoraphobic, to a strong and courageous 'I can do anything' type of person, I can still see the fear inside, but God's strength crushes it every time. A lot of things had to be adjusted to, like drinking wine every night with dinner. It kept me awake until 4am. When you're fatigued during the day, this causes more anxiety. So I had to be conscious of what I was putting in my body. I also started eating healthier. I dabble with junk food from time to time, but I don't eat crap anymore. Done. This helped with my heartburn, which also kept me up at night. Sleepless nights are triggers for anxiety and sometimes, you have to give something up in order to get that rest that God's been trying to give you.
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. When my mom passed away, my anxiety began to increase at an alarming speed. I was scared of everything. I was scared to go out. I was scared to stay inside. I was just a mess. I started to get answers to my prayers, so I kept a journal writing down each prayer, and then I would write down any answers I feel that came from God Himself. I made my way out to go to grief counseling. After the session, I got in my car to go home. As I was pulling out, the radio was on a Christian station. It said, "Doing something you fear and trusting God will put you in a better position the next time around. Ask for God's strength and you can do anything in His name. When you have faith, this requires actions, because faith without actions is dead. It means you don't trust Him enough to take care of you while you are walking in fear."
As I nervously made my way out of this huge parking lot, I started driving onto the highway. I was anxious and focused on just getting home. But something weird happened. I could hear my mom's voice. I heard, "Go to our favorite restaurant right now and celebrate the fact that you conquered your fear." But with who? I never walked into a restaurant alone---and with this anxiety? Are you crazy? But my car literally drove to this restaurant that my mother and I always went to. When I walked toward the building, it was as if my inner voice was yelling out, "No! Go home! Stop this! This is still! You're walking inside there all by yourself? What will people think?" As soon as I got in, I was greeted by the owner with a hug and I sat at the bar and had an amazing dinner, reading articles from my phone. It wasn't bad at all. People were talking to me, and it was nice to see other people sitting by themselves as well. When I returned home, I sat outside on my deck because it was a beautiful night and poured a glass of wine. In the wine glass, my mother's face appeared. Strange, because someone pointed it out to me on Instagram and said, "Deb, do you see the face in the wine glass?" And oddly enough, it was my mom's face when she was in her 40's when she wore these cat eyes glasses that went dark when she went outside---I think they were photo lenses. I wouldn't have noticed this at all, if it wasn't for someone I didn't even know well pointing it out to me.
I seem to always get signs from God telling me something that I should or shouldn't be doing. And as you know, I loved my wine. I drank every single day, maybe one before dinner, and 3-4 afterwards. But even if someone thinks that's pretty moderate, it wasn't because my wine goblets are huge. My serving sizes were ridiculous. But I looked forward to my wine time and my evenings hanging out with Madelene, having a nice dinner and relaxing, until it was time to go to bed. That's when the anxiety would kick in and leave me awake till 4am. The alcohol stripped me from having any restful sleep whatsoever. While praying for rest and for my myoclonic jerks to stop---which are like little jolts and mini seizures from stress and anxiety, God gave me a realization of what I was doing to my system. He needed me to be level-headed and sober. He needed me to stop drinking.
"And it is not fit for 'kings' to guzzle wine. 'Rulers' should not crave liquor. For if they drink, they may forget their duties and be unable to give justice to those who are oppressed. Liquor is for the dying, and wine is for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more." ---Proverbs 31:4-7
Translating---kings and rulers meaning, God needed me to be at a higher position in life--to be more reliable and to work with clarity instead of always being in a state of fear and anxiety. And when it says that wine is for those in deep depression---yes, I was in a deep depression due to my grief as well as my anxiety, but that wasn't what God had planned for my life. For some, wine is good for those who are having a hard time. But for those meant to reach higher, He needed me to put down the wine and pick up something better. Soon after I had given up the booze, I started sleeping better. I started attending church services just to be around other people who loved God as much as I did. I started to do more things, and miraculously, my agoraphobia disappeared because with the alcohol being taken out of the equation, my anxiety and depression lessened. I started to wake up early, making coffee and breakfast as I did years ago, before my mom got sick. I started to enjoy life again. I know my mom would want that for me.
"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea." ---Psalm 46:1-2
Here's the thing I've learned, especially lately. Through my grief, loneliness, solitude and state of panic and anxiety, God was always there for me. And not even through my own belief system---it was the proof of His existence---his answers and remedies that have seen me through my own inner struggles. I hate to say this, but whenever I needed anything from anyone, not one person was there. I'd hear a whole lotta' "I'll be there for you,"
or "Call me anytime if you need anything,"
and when I called, I either got a lecture on how to get my crap together, or I was completely ignored as if I didn't exist. The thing is, people will always disappoint you. I know I've disappointed people in my life. We are human. People have their own lives and stressors going on. This is why you'll eventually come to find out that the ONLY one who is there is Jesus. And you want Him to be the only one there because the things He has done for me are beyond what any human can possibly do. I'm not saying I don't appreciate what people do for me, or even their attempts to help me out in a time of need---but God is all you need when you are feeling alone, isolated and scared. He is the only one that can save you from your own mind. Our mind can be a torture chamber. We're prisoners of our own mind if
we let it. But when we let the Holy Spirit control us---invite the Spirit to dwell within us---we become new Beings. We become like-minded with Christ with strength and courage to get through the toughest storms. That's why we should thank Him in the storm. When you trust that God will get you through it, you'll notice your faith strengthening and your fear lessening.
"He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak... Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." ---Isaiah 40:29-31
Whenever you're feeling scared and alone, go into a room, shut the door behind you and pray to God. Keep doing this until you start feeling His answers. I have a prayer and answer journal. I write down my prayers and I always get an answer from God through many mysterious ways. But His answers are all written down in my journal. But the only reason why I received answers was because I expected answers. Faith is hope, but strong faith is the expectation that comes along with it. Stop relying on people and start trusting God instead.
For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!