You can only hang on by yourself for so long. Letting go can become a surprising path to freedom.
Many years back my sister was trying out hang gliding in Mexico. After some impromptu instructions the boat towing the glider took her out over the ocean. When she came back she told us she had hung on as long as she could thinking that letting go would land her in the water. When her strength faded so did her choices. She let go and stayed in the air.
Shauna Ncube is from North Cooking Lake, Alberta and spent time in Nara, Nara Japan. She is a wife to Nigel, mom to Keenan and Ian and a friend to many. In early 2018 Shauna messaged me, “Everyday I wake with a different song in my head. I woke with the song Forever Reigns today which is great because it’s the first time a ‘church song’ has been with me in the morning. I’m ready to talk about my story.” Thank you Shauna for sharing.
I thought that I had the strength to carry myself through fear. There were many ways that I tried to gain control of my fears and myself over the years without knowing what I was running from. As a quiet and shy introvert I feared judgment.
As a result, I fought fire with fire and became judgmental of others, trying to read into their intent or thoughts. This led to bitterness, cynicism and atheism. I was overly judgmental of myself which led to low self-esteem. I avoided situations that caused anxiety which led to many lost friendships and burned bridges. Eventually I started to restrict gluten, dairy and sugar in my diet, attempting to control the physical signs of anxiety and stress in my body.
I faced social anxiety. General anxiety. On-and-off low level depression. Hyper sensitivity and a very overactive mind. Outwardly quiet, I can assure you it was NOT quiet in my head!
Anxiety and depression worsened after postpartum sleep deprivation and exhaustion. I didn’t have the energy to get out of the house often with our new baby and a feisty toddler. Help was offered but anxiety led me to reject it as I worried about what might happen.
I tried going on an antidepressant drug used for anxiety, with terrible consequences. On the third day of the medication I felt like I could not take care of my children due to the extreme side effects. I called for help and stopped taking the medication.
Finally, my strength was gone. After more time spent trying, I slowly started a different medication with better results. It was my way of trusting God’s help.
In addition to some mindfulness practices and memory verses (see below), the fog of mental angst slowly cleared. Looking back without such a thick filter of anxiety I now see the ways I tried to control my life. Medication may not be right for everyone but in my case it’s like having a great butter icing on a delicious (chocolate, anyone?) cake.
People who haven’t had direct experience with these disorders might wonder why I didn’t get help earlier.
Unlike many people with anxiety or depression, I never experienced panic attacks or suicidal thoughts. I got up each morning and did what I needed to do. I didn’t feel sick.
And hearing, “You can’t change who you are” a few times over the years wasn’t motivational. I didn’t understand that what I was experiencing is treatable.
At least 49% of Canadians with mental health issues do not seek help (CMHA.ca).
When you decide to let go, God will hold you up.
I am thankful:
1. God has always been with me, even when I was fearful and resistant. Through my husband, our church, and my grandmother I was led closer to His word. The first verse I memorized was 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love.” God is love. Perfect love. Over time I learned to accept His love and love Him; through that I could love myself and start loving others.
2. I’ve been taught to trust. Through long endured infertility and a miscarriage I learned to trust Him. “Their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD determines their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) God paves the road, places the signs and brings on the weather. He shows us the way and answers prayers in time. One healthy boy and then another.
3. He pursued me. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) No matter that I didn’t grow up in a church-going family or that I tried out atheism for a while. God pursued me as a youth at Birch Bay Ranch where I first learned about Jesus, to my husband who brought me to Central Tabernacle and to North Pointe Church where I was baptized as an adult. I’m a happy captive of the church.
Now we bring our family to North Pointe where our children can learn His Word from a young age. Hallelujah!
APPLICATION: Please leave a comment below for Shauna. What’s your story?
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Thank you for being a champion for introverts, Pastor Bob. Peaceful blessings for anyone waking with anxieties today.
You are welcome! Thank you for sharing your story. You’ll see how it encourages others.