I read somewhere that the area in which we struggle the most is our God-ordained area of ministry. That statement has never been more true for me than it was this past week.
Last week Sunday I started experiencing a headache that I couldn’t explain and that I couldn’t shake. The headache followed me throughout the week and by Wednesday afternoon even I was getting a little worried. The first question people asked when they heard about my pain was, “Did you take anything for it?” While this is an excellent question in theory, you have to understand my past a little to know why this is a hard question for me. One, I struggled with OTC medicine misuse AND I come from a family with a history of substance misuse. Two, in high school I battled with chronic pain that doctors couldn’t pinpoint causes for… so they told me it was all psychological, not physical. It is because of those two reasons that I do not take pain medication unless I can clearly identify the cause of my pain… and even then I take a minimal amount of it. So as people asked, I smiled and said no and left it at that. I tried my hardest to be present in every moment of this week, but as I was present, so was my pain (and I’m not just referring to my headache).
Funny story, my persistent headache disappeared whenever I was with children. On Tuesday before I left bible study early I was talking to a student and there was no pain. On Wednesday at a mentoring session with [loud] middle school girls, there was no pain. It’s like my pain had a kryptonite and teenagers weakened its strength. I can’t explain it, but children literally kept me sane this week.
When I woke up on Friday morning, I fell to my knees in prayer and noticed that something was missing. My headache; my headache had finally left me. I couldn’t stop smiling! My heart was happy, my head was happy and I was going to have a wonderful day! I sang throughout the morning and sang during my brief ride to work. I declared that it was the Lord’s day and that everything would be alright because of Romans 8:28.
My day pressed on as normal. Moments of isolation birthed moments of writing and reflection… but still, all was well. Then I heard a song come on Spotify and it spoke to my heart in a special way. I kept the song on repeat and sang it for at least two hours (music just does that to me sometimes). But then something went wrong. I felt something creep through my spirit that I hadn’t felt in a long time. My head was flooded and my heart was, too. I struggled with being able to breathe and couldn’t keep still anymore. I stood at my work station and placed incessantly. I breathed deeply in between customers, trying in vain to hold back my tears. This went on for about 20 minutes before I finally found the ability to reach out to my manager.
I am having an anxiety attack and I don’t know why.M.E.
That’s what I said to her before a flood of tears came gushing out of my swollen eyes. She asked if I needed a hug, but I declined knowing that the tears would only increase with touch. When the tears still couldn’t cease, she offered to walk me outside. Once we hit the brisk, sunny day air I could finally feel just how rapidly my heart had been beating and feel the heat that was stored up within me. My heart had an irregular beat and I couldn’t even tell. She walked with me down the street and felt the attack begin to pass over slowly, but surely. Thirty minutes. The longest attack that I had ever experienced.
I shared what had happened with those closest to me and they all asked the same question. “What triggered the attack?” I offered my standard reply of “I don’t know” and prayed that that lie would satisfy their curiosity. Deep down I knew the cause, the cause was always the same- I was worried about my future.
I could stop here and direct you to the sixth chapter of Matthew and encourage you to read about what Christ has to say about worry. I could actually reference a whole host of scriptures that tell you to trust God, lean not to your own understanding, and wait on God…. But I’m not going to insult your intelligence because I know you already know the address of those scriptures. Instead, I’m just gonna finish my story.
I sat at work on Friday so preoccupied with everything that could happen later that day and beyond that I became increasingly overwhelmed to the point of an anxiety attack. You see, at some point I made an idol out of God’s plans for my life, choosing to worship the plans over the living God Himself.
I loved the plans more than the Planner.
I sought the gift more than the Giver.
After the attack passed, I planned out just how I was going to isolate myself during the coming weekend. I knew that I wanted to be alone on Saturday but now I needed Sunday, too. I was proud of myself because I didn’t just go home after my attack, knowing that going home would cause me to fall into the cyclical hold of depression and anxiety and isolation… not realizing that I was still headed down that path but in a different vehicle. Instead of isolation I sought companionship and still wound up at the intersection of Alone and Hurting.
All day Saturday I threw myself into various projects to keep my mind off of how I was feeling. Laundry, cooking, eating, filing my taxes, working on church matters- anything to starve the issues of my heart. I had a lot on my mind and I just needed to escape from those thoughts for a day… or two. Come Sunday morning, I ignored my alarm clocks and set out to get a little more sleep. I texted my Pastor at 6am and told him that I wasn’t going to be in church. Nothing was physically wrong, but I was still emotionally drained. I didn’t want to see people because I was so afraid they would know the truth- that I was a fraud and that I was deeply hurting. Yet as I laid in that bed yesterday morning, I felt a conviction like never before to press on to church. So I did.
God doeth all things well.
By the time I arrived (late), the praise team was in full swing, declaring that they just “can’t stop praising His name” and my soul started to get happy. I sang the words with my mouth as my heart drank in its meaning. Every song sung spoke to me as if for the first time. I felt my Help coming. By the time my Pastor came to preach, I was ready for what God was about to say through him… or so I thought.
Point 1: Learn how to check your flesh
Point 2: Learn how to deal with your mind
Point 3: Learn to deal with your appetite
That was literally the three areas that I had been battling with for the past THIRTEEN WEEKS! I can only give that brief summary of his message because the truth is, you need to watch it for yourself. (Click here to view).
Remember what I said at the beginning?
The areas that I struggle with the most are my flesh, my mind, and my body (appetite/food). To God be the glory because those are the same three areas that He has birthed ministry within me. As I turn to Him to heal from all of those pains, He strengthens me to share my victory in Him with all who have an ear to hear and a heart to listen. My ministry is unique because, like me, it has many facets. It is not just limited to one thing, it instead shows the linkage between many areas that we like to keep segregated- like Mental health and the church. For reasons that are not mine to understand, God has chosen me for such a time as this to heal in Him and show that healing (and every painful step of the process) to the world.
As we step into this season of Lent, Beloved I implore you to slow down for God. Take some time to fellowship with Him alone and hear His heart. Personally, I will be pausing from social media and television/movies so that I can give all of that “extra” time back to God. I complain so often about not having time to do His work, read His Word, or meet with Him… yet I know everything that he/she said and did on FB and IG. SMH. I’m slowing down for God- not walking ahead of Him, not lagging behind Him- instead choosing to walk in sync with Him. (Now’s the time to join this healing journey since I won’t be sharing posts on social media! 😊… oh, and get my contact information, too! 🤣❤)
I am not perfect in any way, nor is my transformation complete, but God slowed me down this week so that I could hear this one message that I share with you today: don’t forfeit His greatness for your good.
PS- thank you for the title of this blog, Pastor Henry!