Taking a break on my back patio one summer morning I sensed a short bout of dizziness. Since nothing ever really had been wrong with me, I blew it off. I thought, it’s all in my head. Well, it happened again and again and with it came heaving breathing, and a rush of emotions and physical sensations I never felt before. I thought I was going to pass out or die. So, I made an appointment with a new intern and got it checked out. I know by now, you’re thinking the worst, but it was all in my head. They did every test you can think but all came back okay.
I had never experienced an anxiety or a panic attack to this level before but when it happens, you will think you are either crazy or dying.
The attacks were foreboding and would come out of nowhere. I hadn’t quite identified the fear but all I know is that I felt closed in, trapped, and unable to help myself.
You see thoughts of trying to make up for lost time was subconsciously playing out in the deepest part of my heart. I had anxiety about the future and my reality didn’t match my expectations. I was also in a season of tremendous loss and limits. The thought of losing total control of the things I put my hope in was just too much. We think we have everything under control until we realize not everything is under our control. Each passing day, more of life was behind me, AND I WAS SO TIRED of trying to fix it.
This was by far a new low and yet a new level of trust for me… Up until then, everything had been wrapped up pretty tight in a nice little bow of my own making. I could fix everything! No problem! But, this season was different. Instead of recuing me from it, God was calling me to walk with him through it.
I sensed him asking, “Will you, Jackie, trust and stay faithful even when it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted or in your timing? I have to admit, I didn’t like this question at all. What happens when life takes a turn you didn’t see coming? Well, here I was and I have to admit, there were days I found it hard to persevere.
It was made worse by the fact that I was embarrassed to admit these things were happening to me. I was a Christian and a leader and the last thing I wanted was for someone to think I was not trusting God.
So, what to do? I wish I could say I gave myself a pep talk and read a few scriptures and all was well again, but it didn’t work that way.
It was hard work to let go and trust that God had a plan even when I didn’t understand. But, I realized I had a choice. I could be bitter or I could find ways to be better. I started with forgiving myself for feeling like I had to have it all together. That was a tough one since I am very hard on myself. I worked on letting go of pride, shame, and what people were saying and thinking. Shame keeps us silent, but I partnered with God and let others in and told them my story. I decided to be brave and face things I didn’t want to face, to admit my needs and most importantly to find closure to the dreams that died. I found courage in words like embrace, accept, and different.
With God’s help, I forged a new path and found joy in the little things. I found life in the new and different as well as came into an exciting level of freedom and calling.
Walking this road was the hardest thing I have ever done but there is hope. I had to lose my life, my grip, and my plan to really find it. And you know what? By going through, I learned new things about myself and my relationship with God.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it Matthew 10:39 NLT
Are you tired of trying to control everything? Has the rug been pulled out from under your tidy Christian life like mine? Friend, I don’t propose to know your story, but I do know there is hope for you. Take charge of what you can and give the rest to God. Keep focused on the end of the story where you come out of this shining like gold.
When the enemy is trying to destroy your testimony, call and faith, God is right there fighting the battle with you telling you not to give up. New days are on the way and never lose sight of it. The road may not look like you planned, but God is writing your message through the mess and when you get to the other side of this, you will be better than ever, more than okay! So, go girl! Put on that new shade of lipstick, cute boots and sparkly eye shadow and face the day because you are God’s girl and he always takes care of his girls! When the world says it’s over, God says there’s more.
Jackie Tinkler is the Co-Founder and Ministry Development Director of Something More and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She has been ministering to women for 20 years as a Women’s Ministry Director, Counselor and Producer. She is co-writing a Women’s Small Group Study “Something Beautiful” and when not leading women to freedom can be found worshipping at Church of the Highlands, decorating her friends’ homes, enjoying time with her family and chocolate lab Nelson or sitting in the balcony at the Alabama Theatre.