Diagnosis: Panic

panic

The phone rings. The phone doesn’t ring. The news is not what you expect. The news is what you do expect. Our hearts race, mouths go dry, every heart beat is amplified in our ears. Fear. Fight or flight. Sheer panic sets in. This is an all too frequent condition that I deal with. Panic. Even seeing the word provokes what it means to me.

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

Can I tattoo this on my forehead? Who’s with me? So, when I feel attacked or misunderstood, don’t panic. When my manager wants to “talk”, don’t panic. When the doctor arrives who seems hell-bent on criticizing me, don’t panic. When my plans fall through. When I can’t be two places at once. When I don’t get the reaction I want or expect. When it takes me two hours to get to work because of traffic, don’t panic. When these things happen, my first instincts and emotions go haywire. I want to yell and scream…”It’s NOT RIGHT!!” But, that won’t change any of it whatsoever. What will? Who can?

Although, my heart may pound and my mouth feel parched, my knees will hit the ground. My heart will cry out for relief. For guidance and the self control necessary to prevent the tidal wave of emotions crashing all around me from taking me down along with the ones I love. And, I will let the tears fall when they come. Tears are safe. Tears are cleansing. Tears are proof that we are alive. Because, life is hard and seems extremely unfair sometimes. Only with God’s perspective can we trust that the hard stuff is not because of His lack of love, but rather to draw us closer to Him. The closer the better.

We can’t make people do things. We can’t make people not do things. We can’t make someone understand. We can’t change people’s minds. We can’t make someone care if they don’t. We can only pray and ask for the help that He promises.

I still struggle with anxiety and panic, but I know the best prescription for this diagnosis is written in Isaiah 41:10. So, today I will take my medicine. My Ultimate chill pill. And, another one tomorrow….My guess is I need it every day.

He did WHAT?!?!

anger

Have you heard the saying “Anger is hurt’s bodyguard”? I have no doubt that is true. Every time I feel anger bubbling up inside of me, if I take the time to look deeper, I can see it’s from some sort of pain that I’m trying to avoid or I’m tired of feeling. Target that pain and figure out what hurts. It could be betrayal, rejection, shock, confusion….ANGER. Boiling red hot anger is the result.

Jesus got downright angry when He witnessed people using the temple as practically a flea market. He threw tables over, He got red in the face, He raised His voice. “My house will be called a ‘house of prayer’, but you’re turning it into a gathering place for thieves!” — Matthew 21:13 GW. His anger was fueled by blatant disrespect. Can we stand up for each other? Can we stand up for God? Can we stand up for ourselves? Can we get angry about what counts and make a GOOD impact? Absolutely.

Next time anger boils to the surface, take the time to figure out where it truly stems from and how to deal with it appropriately. Are you angry over the disrespect of a person? Over being disrespected yourself? Over being cut off in traffic? Over computer issues? Anger isn’t necessarily a bad emotion. It does mean something is “wrong”. Something is “off”. Just take the time to analyze what you are angry about and why BEFORE acting. That’s the tough part! Our human natures kick in and we want to respond IMMEDIATELY. In some cases, like a child in imminent danger, there is cause to act out immediately.

But, MOST of the time, we get angry because we are hurt. We get rejected. We feel “less than”. We feel misunderstood. We assume the worst. Someone we love gets treated poorly. We FEEL. We are human beings and we were created to have feelings. Our feelings do matter, they shouldn’t be minimized, and we do have the right to speak up. But, our feelings should be assessed before acting on them. What’s going on here? Why am I SO angry?? How dare they? How dare I?

Anger is a normal human emotion. It comes and goes more than I’d like. But, how I act when I’m angry is what can leave a much bigger imprint than the feeling itself. Honestly, “counting to ten” doesn’t always help me, but breathing and praying DOES. Just breathe. Just pray. Take your time. Then….move forward. If something can be changed, do what you can to change it. If it can’t be changed, do what you need to do to accept it and keep going. Keep loving, forgive yourself, forgive others, and move forward in grace and mercy.

We are not alone in our emotions. We are ALL in this together. Anger is a passionate emotion and can easily lead to danger. Let’s use it to passionately propel us in a positive direction.