About 13 years ago, I was in the middle of one of the hardest struggles that I have experienced in my life. I felt like I was drowning in overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks. My wife, Melissa, looked at me and my situation, and she only wanted to relieve me of the suffering. I looked to her often to do things I no longer felt I could handle. Trips to the grocery store, visits with friends and family, and church services were mostly off limits if I wanted to avoid one of the dreaded attacks.
We typically attempt to fix problems when they bug us enough.
I wanted to be back to normal, more than anything. Over and over, I pleaded with God to fix it. Until I could get the fix I wanted from Him, I tried to settle for temporary bandages that would make my life feel easier. It didn’t work, but I tried! I got into the groove of allowing Melissa to handle the growing list of things I avoided out of fear. That was my way of asking her to fix it for me. And she obliged, hoping her efforts would offer some sense of relief.
Sometimes we run up on problems we cannot get fixed.
Despite my pleading with God, He did not remove the anxiety and panic attacks. They continued, and they got worse. Despite my seeking temporary fixes from Melissa and others, I only briefly, if at all, felt the weight lifted off of me. When it would, it would slam back down on me later with more heaviness than was there before. It led Melissa and me to feel a sense of hopelessness about the situation. We had no control over what was happening.
After a season of attempting to alleviate the signs of anxiety in my life, I realized there was no use. It was not working and apparently never would. At the time, the reason was unknown, but God was just not doing what I wanted Him to do, and Melissa’s best efforts were not enough to make me feel at peace.
I had become a problem to be fixed. I assumed that identity. Everything was wrapped up in trying to get someone to fix the symptoms that were bugging me…to take away the disorienting and debilitating dizziness, racing thoughts, pounding heart, and feelings of terror. I was angry at God and anyone or anything that did not offer the escape I craved and demanded.
We are missing something important if all we want is a fix.
I was missing something important due to being blinded by my attempts to get what I thought I needed the most. I believed that if my circumstances were changed, if the way I felt could be directly altered, I would be okay. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I was seeking, unbeknownst to me, was a temporary fix at best. There was an underlying issue that needed to be addressed, and it would take time and a much more potent healing device than a fixer-upper. If that deep wound was left unaddressed, no fix would ever have given me the freedom I was created to experience.
Good counsel and healing relationships with trusted friends and family members would be a necessary part of the period of restoration that followed over the course of many months. As I think back today on that time in my life, I would say three things about searching for a fix: it prevented true healing, it never satisfied, and it did not hold a candle to love.
Instead of only seeing something to fix, perhaps we can embrace someone to love.
While seeking God to do what I wanted Him to do, I failed to embrace His love for me. I equated Him doing what I wanted to proving that He loved me. While looking to Melissa to make me feel better, I failed to receive the love she had for me. I would, instead, think, “How could she love such a weak and broken man?” There is a powerful truth present in 1 John 4:18. Love is not only the antithesis of fear, it actually casts (or drives) it out. There’s no room for fear in love.
While it may seem all too simple, and not much help, I can assure you from experience that when we are suffering, if we can find a way to let others truly love us (including God), it will help a great deal. It may require a great surrender of attempts to get the fix we want in the moment, but it is worth the risk. Likewise, when we have someone in our life that we care deeply about, there is NOTHING more helpful and precious than to offer them a loving ear to listen to them vent or tell their story. It may not remove all the pain and suffering, but love will provide shelter from even the most torrential downpours of life. Love is the great reminder that we are not alone, that we are accepted, that we are significant, and that we are more than worth time and attention. Those are things that are quickly forgotten when going through the valleys of life.
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