"This is the time. Say it."
"No. They will think you are attention-seeking. They'll think you are weak, or strange."
"This is it. You need to open yourself up. This is it . . . "
Then I thought of a quote from The Power of Positive Thinking, "Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow."
So I lurched forward, and I spoke, "I've actually got a prayer request for myself. We are going on a trip in a couple of weeks and it will be the first time I've flown in a while. The last time I had to fly, I had a panic attack, and it was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. It was awfult. It shocked me, and I didn't know why it was happening. Now I can understand it better and I'm in a much different place. I'm actually feeling more confident about this trip. But still, I need your prayers."
[Insert a flushed face and quite a few "um . . and. . . um's" in that speech.]
Sympathetic eyes were locked on me. A man looked right at me and said, "You are not alone. You are not alone in this. It is so common. You are not alone."
Then a ring of voices, "I've gone through the same thing. I know just how you feel. When is your flight? What time? We will be praying for you."
As we bowed our heads and prayed for the requests around the room, as my husband squeezed my hand, and as friends surrounded me afterwords, I kept thinking, "That was the best thing I've ever done. That was absolutely the best thing! I'm so glad I didn't listen to the devil, who wants me to be afraid; who wants me to keep it inside; who doesn't want me to share, or have fellowship, or victory. I'm so glad I threw my heart over the bar!"
I felt relief, because I shared my vulnerability in a safe space, and it was received so gently and respectfully. I had to do that first, in a small group setting, in order to have the confidence to share it here. Sharing it here feels like the next step, the brave thing that God wants me to do next.
Are you curious about my flight?
I am happy to report that many faithful people, not just the ones in the room that night, followed up with me and let me know that they would be praying for me at 3 o'clock on Easter Sunday, when our flight left. I felt those prayers through and through, and I made it all the way (with connections!) with no problems. To say I am grateful would be the understatement of my life.
But, I am grateful. I am so grateful that I have been moved to action here. I feel like one of the many things that God has been teaching me through this anxiety journey is that I need to open up. I need to be less afraid of what people will think and more secure in how God is working. I need to let go of my former definitions of success and perfection, and cling to the reality of a beautifully messy life.
Life is wonderful. It is full of beauty, but it is also a mess! Life is not perfect. It is not always combed, straightened, or put together. It is not always poised, confident or smooth. It can be tearful and stomach-achey and blah. It can be scary, uncertain and lonely. And here is a newsflash: It is like that for everyone.
If you are struggling with something right now, something you've only told your mom or your spouse, or no one at all because you are afraid of what they will think . . . I want you to know that there is power in prayer. Specifically, there is power in a lot of people praying for you and knowing that they are. If you've got a safe and confidential space, throw your heart over the bar and ask your friends to pray. If you don't, or if you just want one more voice going up to heaven, email me, and I promise that I will add mine to the chorus.
Just a few weeks ago, I wanted to be where I am now, but I didn't know how to get there. I'd been praying and studying and doing a lot of work. I wasn't sure where it was leading or how to apply what I was learning to my life. Then suddenly, God gave me a "now or never" time to share, and for once I wasn't too chicken to grab it. I stuttered and flustered, but I got it out and it was awesome.
It was so awesome that I'm stuttering and flustering again here now, in an effort to be obedient to God and his lessons for me: Share the weakness, let go of perfection, and help others along the way.
So, how can I pray for you?
You may write your request in the comments and trust that others will pray as well, or you can email me privately. Either way, I'd love to hear from you. I'd also love to hear your stories of how God has helped you recognize and/or reveal something difficult, and what happened when you did.
Linking with today:
(for the first time)
and on Thursday: