I could feel it creeping in. The familiar sweat on my palms, the urge to excuse myself from the room and wait this one out. One by one, the members of the circle gave their feedback, the rest of the table politely quiet as each one shared their reflections. There was no getting out of this one. The group had voted for the dreaded, ‘everyone at the table can share,’ and, of course, I was the last one in the round of questioning. The topic was strategies for starting conversation with strangers, and more specifically how to segue from a casual introduction to offering healing prayer. My brain scanned a dozen past scenarios, examining them for meaning, technique, finesse. As one of the youngest there, however, old familiar questions circled the narrowing gap between myself and the person currently speaking. Were my ideas any good? Was coherence on my side today? Or would I open my mouth to merely flounder for words as I had done in countless past scenarios?
I chided myself for ignoring the other responses and pushed down the guilt of realizing I had no idea what ideas I was clapping for. And with the rise in my heartbeat came a certain degree of disappointment – I had been working on this for years. I could tell you all about the inner inner workings of my amygdala in that moment, and its ability to hijack an edifying conversation by pumping the bloodstream full of cortisol and fight-or-flight response. And yet, having learned so much, why was I still in this place? Why, after years of practice, was I still steeped in anxiety?
I took a deep breath (In for four. Hold for seven. Out for eight).
I thought back farther. Past the last few weeks. Past the last few months.
And I paused.
Comparatively, I wasn’t nearly as tense as I used to be in these situations. The old signs of an impending panic attack were noticeably missing. Even the sweat was manageable. I could number my three talking points in my head and still remember them two minutes later. I no longer needed to write them down line-by-line and word-for-word.
I had a sudden realization that God had done—was doing, would continue to do— a work in my heart. Each small step of surrender in the midst of crushing anxiety had meant something over days and years. Something to Him, and something to me. Each time, a tiny step had been taken. And instead of urging me to catch up with everyone else, He had walked me through what had often taken enormous amounts of strength and courage at the time. Each sentence had been celebrated. Each defiant ‘no’ to fear like winning the Super Bowl.
And in that realization, I sank into a settledness. There was grace for myself in this process. A grace that so many times before had been extended to me, in my need and in my weakness. There it was. I was in process, but my trajectory was freedom.
What grace can you embrace today? What small victory can you celebrate even if no one else sees it? Take five minutes with God today and ask Him to lift those moments of growth to memory. You may not be where you want to be yet, and that’s okay. In the process there is Presence.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
Jane Funke is a freelance writer, teacher, coach, and editor whose mission is to restore the body, spirit, and soul to live in wholeness and freedom and bring glory to God.
Jane creates educational resources for teens, young adults, and Christian couples. You can connect with Jane by going to https://thestillnessproject.etsy.com.
I am thankful to God for bringing Jane into the life of our family. She is a kind friend, prayer warrior, contributes to the MinistryMoms blog and MBOC resource page, and is also helping to set up our new WIM Heartbeat Community online! Thank you Jane! We love you!
This post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your regular medical healthcare professional. This post may contain affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when purchases are made using these links.