When You Feel Like Freaking Out

how I'm learning to invite God into the freak out instead of pretending everything's ok

I talk a lot about waiting, and that’s because I’ve done a lot of it and most of you have, too. Sometimes it seems like there’s always something that’s not going right, and the part of me that likes things to go right just can’t stand it. That’s why our gracious God is always, always, always teaching me about His better way. Isn’t it funny how the things we’re most passionate about can be the things we struggle with the most?

So… all that to say. There is a situation in my life in which I am waiting. I can’t really share about it on the internet, because it’s not really the kind of situation one shares on the internet. But let’s just say that the deepest, most inner parts of me sometimes feel like this wait is a special kind of prison. One with a really big cage, but a prison all the same.

And you know what’s happened? I have tried everything in my own little human power to get out. I am trying to earn it. Like maybe if I’m good enough and I show God, “Hey, I don’t mind this prison! Look I can be loving and gentle and joyful and happy in this prison because I have the joy of the Lord!” Or “Look, I am doing everything right. I am so good, because I love you.” He will be impressed and I will have passed the test and then I can move on! Yay!

Of course that would work awesomely if the joy of the Lord was something I could conjure up all on my lonesome. But it’s not, which is why it’s called the joy of the Lord. It comes from Him and not from me trying to impress Him.

Then I’ve tried to change who I am. Maybe if I wasn’t so me-ish, this situation wouldn’t be so bad. Look, other people are in the same situation and they aren’t upset about it at all. They even like it! They wake up thinking about how nice it is to be in this situation that feels like a very long form of purgatory, and I’m all like that main character in Shawshank Redemption, [spoiler alert!] putting on happy face and making the best of it while I’m secretly hatching plans to make a break for it.

Then of course came the shame.

Whyyyy for the love of all that is good can’t I just get it together?

Why can’t I make it through one day of this situation-that-never-ends without feeling like I’m going to freak out? There are starving people across the world who are happy, and I am sitting here feeling like a senior in high school before graduation day. Make. It. Happen.

And then resignation. This situation is never going to end. This is just how it is. Just learn to fake it through the day, and everything will be OK.

Can I tell you what has happened to me in this phase of resignation? Nothing good. Because I lost my hope. And not only did I lose my hope, I lost who I am.

I have chiseled away at myself until this square peg fit into a round hole. And sometimes that’s good. Shouldn’t we let our Lord prune us and refine us like a jar of clay or gold in the fire? When He does that, we can be sure we’re never losing something that was doing us any good.

But when we do it to ourselves, to fit in, it’s like shoving ourselves into pants that are two sizes too small. Eventually something is going to come busting out, and it probably won’t be beautiful.

The person that I have been trying to be in order to survive this waiting game is just not who I’m created to be. I’m as much that person as my husband is white, which is to say not at all.

So now something crazy has happened… God is saying, “Come back to me. Why did you stop bringing me into this situation? Why hasn’t it been in your prayers? Why do you take it for granted that you have to go through this alone?” And you know what? I realized that’s totally what I’ve been doing. My prayer time was awesome. I got to lift up so many people in prayer, and I have seen each of them being carried through some really tough things by our gracious God. But I wasn’t asking Him to carry me.

In trying to make myself something I’m not, I forgot who I am and whose I am.

I am someone who needs to be carried through this situation by loads and loads and buckets full of grace. Because no matter how much I try to “like” the waiting game I’m in, this situation is just not something I’m ever going to enjoy – and guess what? God already knows that. I’m someone who needs the joy of the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit, because my own self is not going to conjure it up just out of pure bliss for the circumstance I’m in. I’m someone who needs to be filled with gratitude, for sure. And I’m someone who can know that no matter how much I’m waiting, I’m loved for exactly who I am.

And sometimes I’m going to grumble. I’m working on it. But David wailed too, in between his praising, and now we have the book of Psalms. So it’s no surprise to God how I feel about things, and He still chose to wash me with grace and call me His own.

I’m not suggesting we give ourselves license to freak out whenever we feel like it. But for those times when it’s all too much and we’re hanging on by a thread, and it’s all we can do not to crack (or even if we do crack), we can remember God is there. He’s with us in the midst of it. And even when it doesn’t feel like it, He’s for us.

God is not expecting us to impress Him with how well we hold up in every situation. He’s waiting for us to call out and ask Him into it. He knows who we are. He knows who He created us to be. And He definitely knows when we’re in a situation we literally just cannot stand. What He wants from us, more than our perfection, is our trust. He’s waiting for us to acknowledge we just cannot do this on our own. We are faltering. We are freaking out. And we need Him more than anything in the world. He wants is for us to know He loves us, even when we grumble, and He’s not letting go.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15 (NIV)

How do you guys feel? Have you been or are you in a waiting game, and has it been as hard for you as it’s been for me?

Original photo of Overwhelmed Employee by Petr Kratochvil. Text by Stephanie Oh.

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12 comments

  1. Trust…..a vital part of our relationship with God. Be wrapped in His unconditional love Kim…..knowing His deep love for you and that you are enough. Hold on tight…And remember He has a firm grip on you and he won’t let go! Hugs and prayers.

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    1. Thank you for this, Renee! This is what God keeps telling me – “You are enough.” “I love you.” “I won’t let go.” I had no idea how badly I needed to hear that until He started repeating it to me, and then I realized I’d let this difficult situation come between us, because I was trying to be “strong enough” on my own and listening to what others said about me. Thanks so much for the continual encouragement! Hugs and prayers back to you!

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  2. Girl I can totally relate! I so get everything you’re saying. Here lies the differance between positive thinking vstruthful thinking. Sometimes the truth is not positive, but that’s ok! I’ve done all you listed:) Try harder, plead with God, be positive, try to figure it out (this one gets me the worst), then comes discouragement, and ultimately despair. Real is all God wants and you’re right with the trust thing too. David is so relatable because he did both. He didn’t deny his pain, he told God, then trusted He would help him. Being who we aren’t is always destructive. I’m learning that more and more. I’m realizing it’s ok being who I am because God made me that way! I’m not a super optimistic extrovert. Even though I have forced myself to be that so many times to please others or because i thought i should be. God made me, where like you, I need Him to lift me to the place of joy in the valley. I can’t create it and left to myself I’ll think myself to death!:) This post was awesome. I will be praying for you Kim.

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    1. Krystle, thanks so much for all of this! I’m just walking through this stuff literally right now, in the present, day by day, and it means so much to me to be able to share it and know I’m not the only one who feels this way! The crazy thing is that a few years ago God filled me with hope, and it was such a huge part of who I was for a long time. But the situation I’m talking about here is one that I honestly don’t enjoy, and the more I tried to pretend I was OK or to force myself to be happy, the more my hope slowly faded. (And the more I became opposite of everything I normally am until I felt like I was dying on the inside. I think being able to connect with all of you here was one of the few spaces that was keeping the real me alive.) I didn’t even notice it happening until God pointed it out to me! It feels so liberating to know we can tell Him, “I’m a square peg in a round hole and I need you so bad” and know that He LOVES us just the way He made us regardless of what other people think. You do you and let the real Krystle shine! And thanks for your prayers! Praying for you too!

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  3. Dear Friend…I am so glad you opened up your heart here and shared your struggle. You have been a fountain of encouragement and Light to me in the past few months and I am so grateful. But I am even more grateful for the opportunity now to pray for you and lift you up through your own hard days.

    A life with chronic illness is a life of waiting…waiting for change, improvement, healing. Waiting for wisdom on treatments and finances and symptom management. And, oh man, waiting is HARD. I’m right there with you on that.

    I recently read Lewis Smedes’ book “Keeping Hope Alive” and in it he refers to waiting as “the hardest work of hope.” And I think the struggle to wait, it really is the struggle to keep hoping, to keep believing even when what we hope for seems impossible or at least seems as if it’s never going to happen for us.

    I wonder if part of the secret to waiting is to work on being present to the “right now” of our life, to stop ourselves (with much help from God, obviously!) from racing ahead into the future with our thoughts of what might happen, good or bad, or what we need to do to get there and rather focus on the “gift” of each day. Keeping a gratitude journal these past couple years has helped me immensely with this, but it is still a constant decision I have to keep making to “let go” of the future, because all my stressing over it isn’t going to change it (what?!).

    I’ve been reciting James 1:2-4 every night these last weeks: “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow. For when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” The way the NLT translates this verse has given me a whole new perspective on the passage because it gives me a sense that finding joy in hard circumstances is mostly about “letting go.” It *can* be an opportunity for joy, so *let it* be. Your endurance *can* grow through this, so *let it* grow. I don’t have to *make* joy or *make* my endurance grow. I only have to let go of trying so hard to change my circumstances, change myself, change God’s mind about answering my prayers.

    Wow…sorry for the super long comment. Clearly I can relate to the struggle with waiting (and freaking out)!! You will be on my heart and in my prayers in the weeks ahead, Friend. May you find much joy as you draw closer to Him and let Him do with your life as He will. Because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be amazing!

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      1. Thank you for such kind words, Krystle! I always enjoy our conversations here at Gospel Girls and appreciate your faithful input as well. Isn’t it great to have sisters on the journey, no matter how far a part we live?

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    1. Courtney, YES! ” And I think the struggle to wait, it really is the struggle to keep hoping, to keep believing even when what we hope for seems impossible or at least seems as if it’s never going to happen for us.” <– This is so why I talk about waiting all the time! It's the fire that refines our faith, but it still burns a bit. 😉 James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:3-5 always go together for me. "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." – Romans 5:3-5. Thanks for everything!

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