Olly olly oxen free.

Almost a year ago I adopted a kitten. If only you knew how explosive of a statement that is for me. Why? Well if you want to know more, here’s a link to that story.

It turns out that kitten, Gerdie Grace, would be the beginning of not only my worst days, but also my greatest. What you’ll learn from that previous post is that I was terrified. Terrified of commitment, death and me not being enough. I didn’t learn that last one until recently, haha. Hard pill to swallow and even more difficult of a lesson to retain. But we’ll get there.

Gerdie infiltrated my fortress. And then she began crumbling my walls from within. But God didn’t stop there.

After having Gerdie for a week, I treated my sister to a graduation trip. I wanted to give her something she had never experienced. Air travel. The beach. Florida. My expectation was to break the generational “curse” of being landlocked and a homebody. I wanted to give her the knowledge and ability to get out and experience the world. What happened instead? Night terrors. Depersonalization. And the inability to eat for a week.

I told myself that I had to be in complete control. That nothing could go wrong. I worked myself up so much that I couldn’t eat or drink without gagging. I couldn’t stop trembling. I was hanging by a thread.

After this horrible experience, I had only a week at home before I headed to Europe for a work trip. Now incase some of you have the pleasure of not living with anxiety…let me shed some light. God programmed us in a way that once we experience a dangerous situation, our brains tend to remember that for future events. With that bit of knowledge, can you guess what happened on the work trip? Mmmhmm. It’s pretty hard to enjoy Europe when dread and fear are quite literally consuming you from the inside out. But wait! There’s more.

I came home for another week only to turn around and head to Colorado for a mission trip. That one wasn’t so bad considering we drove and it was 24/7 Jesus up in there. But I was hurting.

All of that and a year or two prior worth of suffering. And I never sought help. I never told anyone how bad it was. Not my friends. Family. Pastor. Boss. No one. I sat with it.

Pause. If you know what I am talking about and you are sitting with it. STOP. It is not normal to feel that way 24/7. It is not okay. It will not go away by ignoring it. It does NOT make you strong to suffer silently.

Play. I was at a point where I knew I couldn’t keep this up. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t laughing. All I did was cry and panic. I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to take me. But He didn’t. I would go to work and try to get through the day. Then go home and curl in a ball. Every day. For two months.

The final straw happened on a summer day. I had to leave work because I couldn’t keep myself from bursting into tears. I drove to my mentor’s house and broke. As we walked around outside I remember feeling like I wasn’t even walking. It wasn’t me crunching the sun scorched grass. It wasn’t me talking. It wasn’t me surviving. As far as I was concerned, I was gone. Next stop, mental ward.

The thing about anxiety is that it has a way of humbling you. Sort of like Job, ya know. You don’t have enough energy to tell lies or to cover your pain. When you hit rock bottom, you don’t care who sees you cry. Rock bottom creates space you never even thought of.

Rock bottom led me to my mom’s lap as a grown adult. It drove me to an urgent care facility. I didn’t want drugs for the anxiety. I just wanted to eat again. Rock bottom stole every excuse of why I hadn’t called that therapist yet. Rock bottom is where I found the elevator to go up.

And finally, rock bottom led me to write this prayer:

Lord, help me. Help me move out of pain. out of the city of fear, shame, sadness. You created these emotions for a reason. We are not called to remain in pain. It’s a place of learning. A place to grow closer to You. But I have bought real estate there. my house is assembled. Grass tended to perfectly. I bought a one way ticket to my new idol. I turned a trip into a hiding place. Now there’s no room for You. We were supposed to be in a hotel. But I traded in for a one-bedroom apartment. Give me the wisdom and break through to pack my boxes, Lord. Come pick me up. May we spend time together as You remind me of Your gentle spirit. Your power to restore and make new. Cut the lock off the gate. Walk up the path and meet me at my open door. I want to go home. Into Your arms where I find love, peace, comfort, boldness. May Your Spirit speak truth into my weary soul. I want to hear it as if You were shouting from the rooftops. Oh Groom. Come carry Your bride across the threshold into Your home of contentment and peace. May Your acceptance scream through my bones. I am no longer captive to this false reality. Keep Your rescue mission at the top of my mind. Engulf my heart with the realization You are my hero. My saving grace. Jesus, how precious You are. Pull me from the waves. Pump the dark waters that I have swallowed. The fears of the past. The lack of trust. Renew Your vessel. Make me habitable for You. Go to work in me, again. Avert my eyes from in, to up and out. I want to be willing again. On fire. Ablaze.

Clean the windows of my soul. That I no longer focus on the smudges but Your glory and work on the other side. May I have a clear view of all I have left behind due to doubt, fear and shame.

Grab my hand. I won’t pull away. Override my flesh. Pull me in close and lead me in Your dance. Captivate this wild heart once and for all. I’m all in. Abandoned to be captured.

Jesus, I ask You to grow my love for You. Make it raw. Genuine. I need You.

I hear You plead, “Olly olly oxen free. Come out, come out wherever you are.” Of course You know exactly where I am. But You know I have to make myself known. It’s not that I beat You or You gave up. The call doesn’t require me to give up my spot. I could use it again if I really wanted. I could ignore the call all together. But then I’ll miss out on what’s next. I’m coming Lord. This game of hide-and-seek is over. I want to be with You. Get me off this dead-end path. Lead me on one of healing. True healing. Shed light on the pain. The fear. Send Your Holy Spirit to counsel, teach, console. I’m ready to be wholly in relationship with You. Let’s start now. Tonight. My arms are open. My heart attentive to Your voice. Help me let go. To walk through all that I’ve been hoarding.

–Journaled June 27, 2019

To all those who know what happened next…crazy, I know. Apparently God IS in the business of answering prayers. For all those who have no clue, stay tuned…

~ From her shaken fortress. ~

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