Scared woman peeking

A Great Panic Attack Can Change Everything

After my first marriage fell apart, I vowed that Christ would return before I would ever consider getting married again. Why on earth would one desire a messier life than I had created by age 40 . . . HONESTLY!

Meeting people—well, okay . . . men—occasionally wasn’t problematic. People fascinate me, and I enjoyed making new friends in the aftermath of it all.

On the Mend

One guy stood out as a fantastic, lifelong . . . friend. We could—and did—talk for hours. His kids, too, had a history of health challenges. He was . . .

  • Respectful
  • Vulnerable
  • Good-looking
  • Funny
  • Tolerant (essential for friendship with me)

I told him up front I had vowed never to remarry. I didn’t know he and God were chatting behind my back, shall we say. On one particular occasion, he opened his heart and allowed a few tears to fall.

That just gets to me like nothing else—stellar character, soft compassion, and sex appeal to boot? Did me in. But I would never tell.

Apparently it was clear as a bell to others that my heart was on the mend. He and I laughed and acted like two kids half the time. Love has a way of softening the hardest of hearts; acceptance, forgiveness, and embracing human frailty can’t be beat.

But then came a bit of a hiccup in the form of a “code-blue” panic attack.

The Little Blue Box

About a year into this lifelong “friendship,” we were at the mall. Lo and behold, a jewelry store appeared. The light blue one that sparkles from a distance. That one guarded by more cops than employees and patrons put together.

I had never considered going into Ti . . . Tif . . . Tiffany’s. EVER. In his ever so charming, casual way, he said,

Hey, let’s stop in and take a look.

Take a look? At what? It’s Tiffany’s! I thought, they don’t sell shoes or anything below a bazillion dollars. Why bother? (The first practical thought I’d had in decades.) But, since Christ had not returned, I wasn’t going to marry (remember my vow?), so what damage could a little peek into a jewelry store known for flawless engagement rings do?

Twenty steps and 20 seconds later, I walked straight into a full-blown panic attack.

A flash of terror flooded my mind. The store represented commitment. I had to get out. I spun around and dashed by the pearls, watches, and whatever else they sell, and heaved a huge sigh of relief safely outside the smothering, pale blue decor.

The Benefits of Commitment

It’s not good for us to be alone. Thank God I chose wisely and married my lifelong friend five months later.

Because we were made to be in relationship with Christ, who has committed to love us without condition, we’re drawn to be in relationship with one another. But when we’ve been hurt, we can shut down and wither away. Or we can make ridiculous vows to ourselves in a feeble attempt at self-protection, living half-heartedly and ruled by fear.

Or we can choose to . . .

  • Face our hurt
  • Embrace it
  • Own it
  • Grow through it with the help of healthy people

In so doing, those who know Christ experience this miraculous thing called real intimacy.

Healing is hard. It’s not like skipping through a field of clover with a few holes in it. It’s work . . . good, refining work. To live as Christ promised, abundantly and fully, we have to reject self-protection and embrace healing. Often our biggest challenge is committing to the process. Commitment requires honesty and humility.

When we fully embrace the process, life takes on new meaning and purpose. Life becomes truly abundant; not because humans possess all we need but because in God, there is fullness of joy—and that joy is often manifested in relationships.

smiling friends in sunglasses laughing on street
Image from Photodune.

Not just romantic ones, mind you, but also relationships with . . .

  • Friends
  • Relatives
  • Coworkers
  • Church members
  • Those we serve and live with in our own communities

I tell you, there aren’t words to express what it’s like to be filled with Christ’s love and mercy.

Let Me Hear from You

God’s plan is quite stellar. Had I stuck to my stoic vow, I would have missed something miraculous.

Your wounds may not come from a previous divorce. But you are wounded . . . we all are. Maybe as a child you longed for what never came . . .

  • Love
  • Respect
  • Guidance
  • Connection
  • Forgiveness
  • Tender care

It could be that pastor who betrayed you or that Christian whose cutting words sliced you open, and you have vowed to never allow that to happen again.

But it’s not good to be alone. My second marriage has been beyond healing. It has revealed to two broken people that God can and does heal us as we open our lives to His care. We chose to commit—to be in the process of learning how to love more fully because Christ loves us.

So what’s holding you back? Christ came to heal us . . . will you let Him? I know, you may have a little panic attack at first. Just know you’re onto something when the air clears and you cling to His promises.

Why on earth would you choose anything less than the fullest life possible? What is needed for you to trust Christ with your life?  Let’s talk about it this week.

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