Within the past few years, I have truly struggled with anxiety and panic. I always thought anxiety disorders were serious, but it would NEVER happen to me. I had everything together...there was no reason to fear.
Looking back, I realize that anxiety is something that has affected me since childhood. When I was very young, I was scared of death. As I got a bit older, I was scared that something would happen to one of my parents. Every now and then, the panic would hit, usually at night. My stomach would drop, my heart would race, and I was scared.
When my dad would work nights, I was a nervous wreck. There were some nights, I would just cry because I wanted him to come home. As for my mom, I could easily walk across the hall and see that she was tucked safely in bed. I worried about her in a different way. She is a diabetic, and I always worried that she would become ill when she was away from me. There were also times I was away from both parents. As a child, I was terrified of tornadoes (still am!). During a tornado warning in elementary school, I was reduced to tears. I knew that I was safe in the hallway at school, but what about Mom? What about Dad?
Over the years, these feelings continued. And then, I added the hubs to my list of people to worry about. But I am slowly learning to conquer fear. I strongly believe that we all have our weaknesses, and the devil knows them. He knows them well. He feeds off of them.
In my recent reading*, I have a new appreciation for Psalm 23. I think it's very easy to take the words at face value without understanding them. I've been studying this scripture, and the words are truly beautiful. The Psalm comes from David, but I've added my own reflections.
A psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
God is my caretaker and guide...I don't need anything else.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He tells me when to rest, when to relax, when to refresh. He calms me when the proverbial wolf is at the door.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
He shows me where He wants me, and I go where he wants in order to achieve his purpose.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
I am surrounded by death, fear, and heartbreak, but you, God, are always there. I will not be alone. As a shepherd, he will not leave his sheep. He is personally responsible for getting me home.
Though I have sometimes been struck by fear, God has used those times to draw me closer to Him. What was intended for destruction, God is using for growth. No more holding on and trying to fix everything on my own. My Shepherd is protecting me.
*I've been reading Traveling Light by Max Lucado. Much of my understanding of and information on this scripture comes from that book. I've also done research on how shepherds cared for their herds in David's time...amazing parallels!