Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Living Free

In 2004, I embarked on a spiritual journey to know God and believe Him (Isaiah 43:10), and a year later, I discovered after completing Beth Moore's Believing God Bible study and Breaking Free Bible study how praying Scripture could stop my panic attacks and bring peace. I decided to write down the steps I took toward recovery in hopes that it might help someone else onto the path of freedom from panic and anxiety. By following these steps, I experienced God in a way I had never known before. I felt His Presence, His pleasure, His peace, His joy, His love. He proved Himself to me so many times during my journey through depression, panic, agoraphobia, and social anxiety. He still proves Himself to me. I still need my Lord every day. I cannot cope without Him. My personality is prone to negative and critical thinking as well as low self-esteem and insecurity. My flawed thinking was a major part of my problem that led to depression, anxiety, panic and social anxiety. My response to stress, sickness, confrontations, difficult situations, plus self-absorption and low self-esteem worked against me until I felt completely defeated and unable to cope. My carnal nature needs to die daily so I won't put up with negative self-talk or self-centeredness, so I'm still clinging to Jesus. He is my anchor-hold on my sanity. My Shelter from problems that are overwhelming to me. My very own Blessed Redeemer who rescues me from deceitful thinking and behaving. Most of what I'm about to post I learned through Beth Moore's studies, through Dr. Tim LaHaye's The Spirit-Controlled Temperament, and through my own spiritual walk with Jesus, the Lord of my life and my Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. He knows them and they know His voice. (John 10:3-16)

Believe God loves you and has not abandoned you. (Isaiah 54:10) Believe He is for you and wants to help you overcome your anxiety and fears. (1 Peter 5:7) Believe that He has plans for you. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) God wants us to believe Him. (Is. 43:10) We are His children and anyone may come to Him through His Son. Believe that the enemy has no power over you because he is under Jesus' feet, (Ephesians 1:20-22), and because Jesus lives in you and you abide in Him, the enemy is under your feet as well (Ephesians 2:6). Believe you are a child of God (1 John 3:1) and have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).

(a) Get alone with God and pray aloud. Repent of any unconfessed sin. You may be harboring unforgiveness against someone, or bitterness, or hatred. You may even be angry at God. Lay whatever it is at His feet. Ask Him to take it—to remove it from you. This is not an easy step, but it is a necessary one. Trust that He is a good and just God. Ask Him to help you let go of the past. If, like me, you removed God from first place in your life, ask Him to forgive you. Tell Him you want to love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Take yourself off the throne and let the Lord Jesus reign in your heart and in your life.

(b)Pray every morning. Make knowing Him and His will for your life your first priority. Ask Him to remind you to pray to Him throughout your day. Pray in humility and truth. Hide nothing from Him. He already knows your heart anyway. If I'm not alone, I go outside whenever I need to pray and my husband is home.

Step 3 ASK.
(a) Ask God for His help and guidance while you search for Him and His will for you. Ask Him to give you more of what you lack—more faith, more belief, more trust. Give your panic disorder, depression, whatever has a stronghold on your life, to God. Lay it at His feet and ask Him to conquer it for you. I couldn’t stop my panic attacks, but God could and did by the power of His Word. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is too hard for Him. Come clean before Him whenever a situation or problem arises that threatens your peace. Ask Him to help you think as He thinks about the situation or problem. Counter every negative thought with God’s Word. If I had to go somewhere, but my thoughts told me I might have an accident, I'd repeat verses like, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." (Ps. 91:1)

(b) Ask for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit every day. Ask God to fill you and thank Him. If you ask for the Holy Spirit, God will freely give it. We have His Word on it. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13) The Holy Spirit will guide you and counsel you. (John 14:26) He will empower you and encourage you. After you've been in God's Word daily for awhile, He will put Bible verses in your mind when you need them. Through Him, God’s Word will come alive as you read it, and you will gain spiritual understanding. (1 Corin. 2:14)

Step 4 READ.
Read God’s Word every single day. Believe what it says. God’s Word will begin to change your attitudes and the way you think. Soon positive thoughts will replace negative ones. Buy an indepth Bible study (Beth Moore's always speak to me) or join a Bible study group. This will help you stay in the Word. Pray Scripture that deals with fear and anxiety every morning and every night. (I wrote verses on 3x5 cards and carried them with me whenever I had to leave the house.) Let God’s words of peace replace anxious thoughts.

Step 5 BE STILL.
Take time to sit before God in silence. Ask Him to search your heart and bring up any unconfessed or buried sin you may need to confess. Ask Him to take your heart and mend it. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and let you know that you are His own. It may take some time to tame your thoughts and keep your mind clear while you sit before your Lord. But something that helped me was envisioning Him driving away anxious thoughts from my mind like He drove away the moneychangers from the temple. Then just sit and listen in expectation. At times, I've been led to get my Bible and open it and read at a certain place, and it was just what I needed.

Step 6 PRAISE.
Praise God every day for what He is doing in your life. Praise Him throughout your day, as you go about your work. Work as if working for the Lord. Expect Him to help you during your day. Sometimes it may be a coworker who stops in just to say how much they appreciate you. Sometimes someone may hug you and say, “I just love you,” and then walk away, continuing what they were doing. (That happened to me twice!) I believe that God uses others to speak to us and encourage us. Try to think of problems you encounter as opportunities to walk by faith and put your trust in God. Pray about them and then let Him work things out for you. “The LORD will fight for you. You need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

Step 7 SHARE.
As soon as you feel comfortable, get in Sunday School and church. Being with other believers refreshes our spirits. Ask your class or department to pray for you. Three years ago, I put myself on my church’s email prayer list. Be sure and pray for others as well. Share with others about your journey as you feel led. Let them know what God is doing in your life. Encourage others on their walk.

Well, I believe that’s it. As you can see, this journey is definitely a "journey" of the heart, soul, and mind. But if you are like I was, desperate to be set free, having tried everything else and nothing worked, then you will find the hard work and effort of this journey will be well worth it! There are so many benefits of knowing and believing God. Not having panic attacks is just one of them. I am forever changed. I will never be the same. God has proved His love to me. I know He will do the same for anyone who desperately seeks Him.


Faith said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, and for this post. Good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I was trying to copy and apste it into Word so I can actually print it ot and read and reread it but it's not working. I was wondering if perhaps you cn send it to me in email. Maybe they put a block on being able to copy from it...I don't know. Blessings, Paula