Panic Attacks–Yes Even Christians Get Them

In my last two blog posts, I’ve spoken about getting out of the “faking fine” game at church. The book I reviewed in my last post, “No More Faking Fine”, was a great resource, and one, I suspect I will be tapping into for a long time.

Anyway, this past week I volunteered at the Vacation Bible School at my church. I was a tribe leader and really enjoyed my group of kids and my junior helpers. We all connected well and had a great time learning about Jesus and getting to know each other. We even made up our own song which was cool too.

The words “panic attack” don’t seem conducive to all of this, but I’m getting there. Towards the end of the week, I was asked why I wasn’t teaching in the children’s area. My hands started shaking, and it seemed like all the blood had drained from my face. I was wondering why I had been asked. This all happened in seconds though it seemed like hours. I made a brief excuse which seemed to satisfy the person and the other people who asked me. I guess the good time my tribe was having gave the impression that I had some great teaching ability.

I went home and thought about it some more. The teaching part intrigued me because I did work in a classroom before I began homeschooling so yes, I do have some experience. But then, the voices came. ‘Why would you want to teach? You have nothing to give these kids. There’s no security in your life. Why would you have it to give these kids?’ Yes, that particular thought was true. While I have the security of my relationship with Christ, I don’t have any other kind of security. At least the kind of security that other Christians seem to believe is important.

My hands started shaking again, and my thoughts went tumbling all over the place. I was in the middle of a true panic attack. I wasn’t sure what to say or do or if I needed to say or do anything at all. It was overwhelming to say the least. There was no way my mind or heart could believe that I had the ability to teach in the children’s area. I had to forcibly put the idea out of my mind for the weekend, or I wouldn’t have been able to function at all.

I woke up yesterday morning though with a reason behind the panic attacks. It could only have come from God. I was having panic attacks about teaching because of what had happened to me in our previous churches. The churches where, after I had been asked to teach Sunday School and had been teaching for a while, the people decided we were no longer good enough. After they had gotten what they wanted out of me, I was no longer good enough. My family was shunned for reasons I still don’t understand, and we left the church. So, being asked to teach had opened a locked box in the back of my head, and shame filled me. Shame, even in the midst of our VBS celebration.

We got to the end of our service, and I thought maybe I should ask for prayer. Then the voices came back and the shame along with it. ‘How could I explain something like this in ten seconds? How could I say I didn’t want to teach because I was abandoned by my church family the last time I tried? How could I say I was scared people would decide they no longer wanted to be a part of my life once they had gotten what they wanted out of me?’ There was no way I could so I didn’t ask for prayer, and the service ended.

It bothered me so much though that I came back to pray after my husband and son went in one direction, and I had dropped my other son off somewhere else. I sat at the cross by myself with my hands shaking and my thoughts in turmoil once more. I yelled and screamed at God. “Why, God? Why?” I truly lamented elements of my past for the first time. Dealt with things I thought I had packed away a long time ago. God and I talked for a long time, and I felt the first steps toward healing. Just the first steps, mind you, but enough to where my heart didn’t hurt so much.

I couldn’t recommend this practice of lamenting more highly. God wants a relationship with us, and He can take the yelling and screaming. I just wish I had the courage to share my laments with people in person, but maybe, that day will come. I pray today that we will all have the courage to have a real relationship with God–laments and all.

Praying God’s blessings on all of you today!

 

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4 thoughts on “Panic Attacks–Yes Even Christians Get Them”

  1. Wow … your past church must have put you through quite a lot. I think you’re quite brave to get involved in a church as much as you are given what you’ve been put through and how you’re not ready to do more beyond that. The scary thing is – churches do tend to be users. I remember when my church replaced the youth leader with a you pastor freshly graduated from the seminary. This guy hadn’t done anything wrong at all, he had won our trust. Then all of the sudden there was this new guy that we knew nothing about. We just wanted things to go they way they were – but the leadership was a group of fickle guys who often got strange ideas as if they were in charge and did as they pleased with little regard about how others felt about their actions.
    It’s okay to not be ready to do more than what you’re comfortable with doing. If others want to pressure you to do more, it’s probably because they’re looking for somebody else to do something they don’t want to do themselves. That’s why I got stuck doing nursery duty at my church for four years – not because I was good at it, but because they couldn’t find anyone else – and I never really got to do what I wanted to do because if I did that – there would be nobody to run the nursery.

    1. Thank you, Jamie! I do love the new church we are at now though we were put through the ringer at our old churches. While we’ve been at our church for five years now, I still have many issues with trust because of what happened to us before. God wants me to work through them though, and with His help, I am doing my best to do that. Thanks again for visiting

  2. Alisa, this is beautiful. Sometimes others notice gifts in us that we don’t realize we have or simply lack the courage or confidence to use (I’ve experienced this in my church – who, ME?!?!) What a blessing that God wants to hear our laments and, like you said, often speaks to us in the midst of it. You are loved, and you are precious in God’s sight, fearfully & wonderfully made!!

    1. Thank you, Karen! While I was trying to be as honest as I could before reading this book, learning about lamenting has given me a Scriptural focus to dealing with the bad stuff.

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