Last week, as I was walking on the beach, I decided to stop and grab a coffee at the cafe. As I was about to place my order, the lady smiled at me and asked, “Do you want your usual? You are the lady that surfs and orders a coffee in the mornings aren’t you?”
Now, I don’t know why or what came over me but I replied, “Yeah!” Immediately, panicked thoughts fill my mind: Why did you say yes, Rachael? You are not that lady! You don’t even surf! You need to leave – quickly! Haha.
There are things in life that come at us and can surprise us, or even knock us off course as we did not see them coming. (I did not see myself that day as pretending to be a surfer – although I did feel quite cool that she would think of me that way).
Having just turned 42 years old this week and looking back over my life, I have seen plenty of didn’t-see-them-coming moments. Sometimes they have created uncertainty, sometimes they have knocked me a little, and sometimes they have knocked me a lot.
One of the hardest times that I have faced was a couple of years ago; I would never have imagined that something like this would have been a part of my life.
It all started when I collapsed a couple of times in my bathroom. You might think collapsing or fainting happens all the time to people – yes, it does but it’s what happened after that which shook me. I began to experience panic attacks, which I’d never done before. These would happen anytime and anywhere – I couldn’t even watch TV and relax. I remember on one occasion when I had gone to the cinema and suddenly it felt like the walls were coming in on me. I had to escape – right away. During that season, even when getting on the platform at church – something I love and know I am called to – other thoughts would come and say, you can no longer do this, you will always have panic attacks, you might as well get used to them!
The change came because of my son Malachi. As I was struggling with panic attacks, Malachi who was 10 years old at the time, was having nightmares every night. I vividly remember sitting in my living room when a new series of thoughts rose up in me. Enough is enough. I refuse to allow the spirit of fear to dominate my life, my house and my family. Right there and then I started praying and speaking in tongues commanding the spirit of fear to leave and from that night my son has not had a nightmare since. I felt something shift where I was no longer dominated by my negative thoughts. Don’t get me wrong I still had to go on a journey of healing but the stronghold had been broken.
Here’s what I want to remind you: for every set back, every situation, every emotion, every dream, every plan and purpose, the word of God has the answer and the authority. The scripture that I held on to was this.
Romans 12:2, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will’
We can renew our minds – it’s written in His word. So if you are feeling anxious or struggling with mental health then let me encourage you to grab hold of God’s word – let him heal you.
To finish off quickly here are some bullet points that helped me bring healing to my life.
- The Why. Why was I feeling this way? I realised that I had this hidden fear that I didn’t want to die young. My mum died when she was 29 years old and left four children and I didn’t want to leave my children. So somewhere in my subconscious when I collapsed it felt like my worst fear was coming true. It turned out that my iron levels were low so the storyboard in my head could now be erased.
- Don’t accept where you are as your final destination. Research has shown that your brain is not hard wired, it can actually change. It is neuroplastic – it can become healthy and repair itself. New nerve cells are birthed daily for our mental benefit (This verse brings a whole new light) 2 Corinthians 4:16: Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
- Focus. Focus on renewing one thought at a time; don’t try and fix everything.
- Write. Write down what your thoughts are.
- Revisit. Revisit those thoughts but now write down what God says about them.
- Words. Make sure the words you speak align with the new thoughts you are writing down.
Written by Pastor Rachael Taylor (Hope City Newcastle) as part of the SHE IS Collective Blog Series