When my daughter, Ella, was a little thing and didn’t quite know how to read, her favorite thing to do as we taxied down the runway on an airplane was to point out the pictures on the safety information packet while the head flight attendant was reading the instructions (you know the one – “located in the seat back pocket in front of you”, thank you very much).
To Elle, the colored pictures and cool looking circles with lines through them were uber-fascinating! Seems like some cheap and innocent entertainment, doesn’t it?
BUT…to me, a sister friend who can become overwhelmed with anxiety, each scenario on those crazy fold-outs only depicted a panic attack waiting to happen! There was this undeniable sensation of an actual knot forming in the pit of my stomach that grew tighter with each picture to which Ella would point.
For instance (with my own crazy reactions in italics!):
• “In the event of an air pressure problem: Oxygen masks will drop. (Oh joy.) Pull the mask toward you in order to start the flow of oxygen. Place mask over nose and mouth and breath normally. (NORMALLY?!?!) If traveling with small children, secure your mask first before assisting them.” (Are you NUTS? Clearly you are NOT a momma! Kids always come first!) Bag will not inflate. (WHY NOT? How do I know it’s working?! AND CAN YOU PLEASE pump some inhalable XANAX in there, too?!)
• “In the Event of a Water Landing”: (Seriously? Is this supposed to make me laugh…or cry?) “Your seat cushion can be used as a water flotation device” (I’m officially at a loss for words on this one. Dropping 27,000 feet in the ocean will not be pretty – seat cushion or not...).
• “In the event of a Power Failure: Lighted strips will illuminate and direct you to the nearest safety exit.” (Lord have mercy, I’m honestly going to be paralyzed in fear at that point. Forget a lit pathway, I’m going to need an ejector seat.)
• “In the event of an evacuation: Take off heels” (um, again, you must not be a mom; unless we are headed to Milan or Paris, we DON’T travel in heels with kids in tow). “Head to nearest exit” (as previously mentioned, I’m in a state of totally paralyzed panic – ejector seats would be really helpful at this point). “Jump down the inflated slide to safety in an organized manner” (so I’m guessing that means you’re going to frown on me kicking, screaming, pushing, and shoving my way to the front with my baby girl – if I’m able to move, that is?!).
I could go on, but why? We both know you’ll never look at those placards the same again, will you?
Sorry, anxiety can be contagious. I should know. I lived with it in varying degrees for years.
It’s not a glamorous ailment or one in which you get much sympathy (not that you want it, anyway). Most people don’t even know you have it because you become really (and I mean REALLY) good at finding ways to hide it and “cope”, (I use that term a bit loosely) except with those who know you best.
Sometimes you are offered medication from doctors, and other times you’re told to snap out of it. Sometimes you are told you need counseling, and other times you’re told to deal with it yourself. Sometimes you pray for peace, and other times you are completely ashamed that you can’t just “let go and let God”. (BTW – that would be one of my LEAST favorite sayings…please do not ever say that to someone who is in the middle of an anxiety/panic attack – we’ve tried and it ain’t workin’ at the moment and now you’re making us feel like we are “faith failures”.)
Sometimes you are paralyzed with inaction, and other times your wheels are spinning so ferociously that you cannot think straight. It can be a chastising-ly debilitating record that plays over and over again.
But, on the flip side of anxiety, we can have something called practical preparedness. I’ve learned an effective coping strategy that I can employ before the knot of anxiety has a chance to form too tightly. You see, that airplane safety card gave me an idea.
What if you and I had a safety information card for navigating daily life – regardless of whether you’re on a plane or on the ground? Even I, a “Nervous Nelly” of sorts, can see the practicality of knowing what to do if an emergency (real or perceived) were to strike, right?
So I turned to the one place I know I can go for guidance from the One who is solid as a rock. And I came across an interesting verse near the end of one of the best known stories in the Gospel:
“Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus’ followers were still in the boat. Jesus came to them. He was walking on the water. When they saw him walking on the water, it scared them. “It’s a ghost!” they said, screaming in fear.
But Jesus quickly spoke to them. He said, “Don’t worry! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.”
Peter said, “Lord, if that is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus said, “Come, Peter.”
Then Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But while Peter was walking on the water, he saw the wind and the waves. He was afraid and began sinking into the water. He shouted, “Lord, save me!”
Then Jesus caught Peter with his hand. He said, “Your faith is small. Why did you doubt?”
After Peter and Jesus were in the boat, the wind stopped. Then the followers in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, “You really are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:25-33, ERV
Um, did you catch that? If not, let me say that again: JESUS GOT IN THE BOAT AND THE WIND STOPPED.
Okay, now THAT brings me joy. Sometimes He calls us to get out of the boat to walk with Him in FAITH. Then again, there are other times when He knows we cannot do that due to our own limitations, so HE CHOOSES to get in the boat with us.
We are NOT in the wind whipped waves alone. Ask Him INTO the boat when you cannot find the courage to get out. Peace, love, hope, and JOY ARE IN THE BUILDING (or in the boat, as the case may be!). And once He’s in the boat, you can work together to calm the storm.
I cannot WAIT to finish this up with you on Thursday! I’m sorry for splitting it into two days, but it was too long of a post to put into one day! I pray you will check back Thursday for the second part!
(If you or someone you know has problems with anxiety, PLEASE READ THIS: I’ve said this before and I will say it again…if anxiety, or other illness of the mind, impacts your daily life I cannot encourage you enough to seek professional assistance. THERE IS NO SHAME IN IT; IT SHOWS COURAGE AND STRENGTH! Don’t let the LIES that these issues “tell” you keep you from getting the help you deserve. Call your primary care doctor and your pastor/priest/spiritual leader TODAY. They will be able to point you in a direction that will begin a journey of healing. You do not have to live with the lies of anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness any longer.
IF YOU ARE FEELING so overwhelmed that you cannot function, or if are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else please call 911 immediately. I’m praying for you. You are not alone.)
Can you even believe it’s one of the final weeks of Pure Joy, dear friends?! Just a few more to go! What’s on the docket this week?!
1. Rewrite/memorize the scripture of the week: Matthew 14:32, ERV – your personal reminder to let JESUS in your boat, whatever that boat may be: “After Peter and Jesus were in the boat, the wind stopped.”
2. Listen to Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns! I know, it’s not on our list, but wowsa, it fits today’s post with such perfect beauty! Here’s a peak at the video on Youtube.
3. Read something meaningful! Check out our book list under the Pure Joy tab above for ideas if you are stuck!
4. Mark your calendars for August 13th – our final Pure Joy Dinner of the summer series – La Dolce Vita!!!
5. Keep up with the Joy Dare! I might be back to photographing and posting in August. But I’m completely loving and enjoying journaling it right now!
Up Thursday: Creating your OWN Safety Information Card!
Peace, love, and JOY!