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Friday, February 14, 2020

Pause. Stop. Breathe. Hope Again.

They say that comparison is the thief of joy. Well I believe similarly, fear is the thief of hope. The questions about the future running through your mind without any break, back to back questions desperate for answers. Before you know it, assumed conclusions become definite "answers" and the gloom and doom of those "answers" steal the light that could've been at the end of the tunnel, hope.

That is what I experienced when I had my first panic attack in September 2018. It was a year filled with tragedies and loss, my mind was not well, and hope seemed possible, but distant. In July 2018 the Lord sent me a warning dream of what my future would be if I didn't learn how to cope with crisis. It was in that moment that I realized I needed help to get through the pain. I needed someone to teach me how to cope. I needed Christian therapy. I started to pray for God to send me the right person and someone I could afford. It would be a while before that prayer would be answered. However, in the meantime, it was as if the Lord Himself became my therapist. He began to make me more aware of my mind and it's fragile state and steps I needed to take to start to get well. One of those things was to begin to BREATHE. 

In August 2018, I came across a Youtube video by Heather Lindsey called Birthing Pains. She began to talk about her season of back to back tragedy. Bad news after bad news. She compared it to a pregnant woman in labor, the closer the baby is, the more intense the contractions get and the closer each contraction is to the next. Leading up to labor, the number one thing the woman is taught is how to BREATHE. Breathing helps to relax the body and helps the mother to work with contractions, rather than tensing up and increasing the pain. She began to teach this concerning the spirit realm and our seasons of back to back tragedy. It was in watching this video that God began to teach me how to cope. 

Up until this point, every thought the enemy wanted to throw at my mind was entering in. I was so weak. I was so hurt. How was I to know if this was the enemy? What if these thoughts of hopelessness were true? Fast forward to September 2018, I was on my way to church and at a stop light I saw a sign on the side of the road promoting a suicide awareness walk. I started thinking me and my cousin should go to that (6 months earlier I lost my uncle and his dad to suicide). I thought it would be good to connect with other surviving family members and bring awareness to prevent future deaths. Then I thought what if they have it close to the bridge where he died? What if this is going to this makes me relive finding out about his death? What if it's too much and I can't handle it? What if it triggers my cousin and the sadness brings him to hopelessness? What if he can't take it and he does the same thing his father did? Question after question flooded my mind while I was driving to the point that I started to get shortness of breath and my heart was racing. Any hope I had in remembering my uncle at that walk was stripped away as questions filled with fear took over my mind. Then I remembered what God taught me through Heather's video, BREATHE. I began to say Lord, help me *deep breath*, Lord, help me *deep breath*. Breathing didn't give me perfectly wrapped answers to my questions, but with each breath I remembered God is with me. To have God with me, is to have HOPE. I remembered that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I remembered that my cousin is in His hands. Breathing reminded me of God's presence. God's presence brought clarity. Clarity revealed it wasn't time for me to participate in a suicide walk and THAT'S OKAY. 

Maybe your illness has brought you great anxiety. Maybe you too have allowed your mind to race 100 mph into the future, meanwhile God is still sitting with you in the present. I want to encourage you to start breathing INTENTIONALLY. Even before the thoughts come, start pausing throughout the day and take a deep breath in silence and then repeat and repeat again. When the questions of the future start racing, realize fear is attacking you, realize you're having a contraction and BREATHE. Stop everything and say Jesus help me *deep breath*, Jesus help me *deep breath*. Do this as many times as you need to and HE WILL SHOW UP. He will remind you HE IS WITH YOU. HE HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE AND IT'S NOT OVER UNTIL HE SAYS IT'S OVER. Even in the midst of chaos God has a plan. When you have no idea, He knows. Let that be your HOPE. I love you so much, but Jesus loves you more.

May your hope be in Jesus Christ.


Tell me how this Hope Letter helped you in the comments below!

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