I haven't had much anxiety in months. I can't tell you when my last panic attack was. But this week, it all came back. Coincidence? No. It was the enemy.
My five-year-old daughter had consecutive panic attacks from Monday night until Wednesday afternoon. She was afraid the paper cut on her hand would cause her to bleed to death. She worried she'd get so sick she'd die. She's never had a panic attack, she's never had these kind of questions or worries before this week. Coincidence? No. It was the enemy.
On Wednesday, she pretty much gave up eating. Didn't want to eat, didn't want to drink. Just cried. A lot. Everything tasted funny. Everything made her tummy hurt. Nothing looked good. Coincidence? No. It was the enemy.
My husband's job kept him running from city to city, driving long distances and working long days every day this week. Exhaustion wore him out to the point that he fell asleep while putting our daughter to bed. Coincidence? No. It was the enemy.
My nine-year-old son with an "old soul" bore the weight of our stress and blamed himself for "everything going wrong" though nothing was in his control or his fault. Coincidence? No. The enemy.
As I write this, I think to myself, "Wow, we sound like a family in crisis. Maybe I shouldn't post this." But no, we are not a family in crisis. We were a family under attack.
How do I know this was an attack of the enemy and not just a really bad week?
On Friday morning, when I was so worn out and at my wit's end, when I was crying with fatigue from trying to battle against this "bad week" and control everything around me, I asked trusted friends to pray. I was so worn out, so burnt out, I couldn't even put into words what I needed to say to God. I just knew I needed prayer. A few hours later, I sat at lunch watching my daughter eat with such gusto that I actually thought I was hallucinating. She was smiling and eating, stuffing the food into her mouth until her cheeks bulged. Then she ran off and played, calling back to me, "I'm still hungry." She had three helpings at lunch then fell asleep in the car. When she woke up, just twenty minutes later, she said, "Mom, I'm hungry. Can I have more to eat?" She ate, without worry, without examining the texture and tastes, and without getting sick. My heart felt peace.
"It's going to be okay." That was what I heard, that was what I felt. And I really had to wonder if I'd imagined all the stress and tears and hyperventilating that preceded this moment.
If you're like me, you know that the enemy doesn't attack unless he feels threatened. He doesn't prey on those whose hearts are already serving two masters. He doesn't have to attack those people, he already has them believing his awful lies. They are no threat to him. When a Christ-Follower decides to set her heart on God, when she makes a concerted effort to keep her focus only on Jesus and not on the waves, that's when the enemy fires up his cannon and launches an attack. So, now you might be wondering, what I've been up to this week that would cause such a war against my family.
I started reading Dannah Gresh's book titled "Get Lost: Your Guide to Finding True Love." Though the book was not written to happily married women, when I heard her interview on Focus on the Family, I knew I needed to read this book and that I'd need to share it with others.
The book's premise is summarized in this sentence from the back cover:
Discover how to get so lost in God that a guy has to seek Him to find you.
The first five chapters outline how we crave to be loved and how we females crave love and protection from males. It's written for young, single women, but oh how it has struck the heart of this old married lady. You see, we don't just fill our craving for God with guys. We fill it with food, with busy-ness, with friends, with shopping.
The next ten chapters of the book hold the 'meat' as we sit down to a 10-day "Love Feast" with our Father in heaven. That's where this week found me, in this love feast so profound that teardrops stain my journal entries. That's why the enemy came after me with his musket.
You see, I've never seen myself the way God sees me. Growing up, I never felt like I fit in and I'd always daydream about the day I would feel sought after, loved and a part of something. That day came but I didn't even recognize that it had. That day came and I didn't even realize it was what I had awaited. I didn't even know I'd felt this way my whole life until this last year when all the horrible stress of 2013 pushed all those deep-set hurts to the surface and I was left to figure out what had caused all this anguish, all this anxiety, all this self-loathing.
So suddenly, in reading a book written for a young woman, I realized all those lies the enemy had told me were just wrong. I'd drank his koolaid and I was done filling my cup. And that young woman inside me began to heal. That's what made the enemy focus his cross-hairs on me. And when that wasn't enough he attacked my husband and my kids too. He thought it would knock me off course, but it actually just knocked me to my knees.
Gungor's song "You Make Beautiful Things" keeps playing in my head this morning. Give it a listen. Then check out Dannah Gresh's book.