Sue grew up with a common generational belief that conditions such as depression and anxiety were a sign of weakness. They carried a huge stigma, as did seeking psychological help. Recently, her perspective changed.
Sue began having problems with extreme anxiety and panic attacks. It took a while for the doctors to determine exactly what the problem was, but they finally determined it was uncontrollable anxiety. She took some meds and eventually the problems subsided. But, nearly one year later the symptoms returned with a vengeance. She was having a full-blown panic attack practically every day, and it was interfering with everything she tried to do. She started going to a counselor who was able to help her manage the symptoms, but they weren’t really able to determine what was causing them. She started on some new medication with much success and is doing better. Now if a panic attack starts to develop she can intervene before it totally engulfs her.
Shortly after the anxiety started again, she began a Bible study at work – Beth Moore’s study of Daniel. One of the things she learned is that through every “trial” there are 3 ways that they could be resolved: (1) God will totally deliver us from the trial – we won’t have to endure it; (2) we will become closer to God by having gone through it; or (3) we will be delivered into God’s arms as a result of it. She pondered these thoughts in context of her current trial, uncertain what the result would be.
While she didn’t have immediate clarity, she would soon sense God’s perspective in her circumstances.
The woman who cleans her house had been injured in a car accident. Upon her recovery and return, Sue asked how she was doing. The woman burst into tears while she explained how anxious she had become and how she felt like it was showing weakness. She felt she needed to just get over it, but she was just floundering at what to do. Through the counseling Sue had received and from the books she’d read, she was able to share with her that anxiety is a real illness and needs to be treated just like any other illness. Sue encouraged her and pointed her in the right direction.
As she reflected on the sequence of events, she experienced a “light bulb” moment. The thought occured that maybe the reason she’s had to endure this problem is so she can be a help to others who might be experiencing the same thing. Her thoughts about anxiety have certainly changed and she realizes from experience that it is beyond her control.
Instead of looking at her issues as a burden, she’s decided to look at them from the standpoint of how God will use her circumstances and draw her closer to Him in the process. She’s learning to depend on Him more and has gained understanding and empathy for others who have similar problems.
May the following verse ring true in each of our lives.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor 1:3-4
Special thanks to Sue for sharing her story. My prayer is that others are encouraged and that we always remember to pray for those around us, as we never know what they may be experiencing.