Every now and then my mind tries to trick me into believing that I'm still that girl.
Sometimes it's when I least expect it and others — it's right on time.
"Don't do it. You'll get too anxious."
"Just make up an excuse and cancel. What if you have a panic attack while you're there?"
"Play it safe, D. You need a little more time on the other side of this thing before you try anything too brave for your own good."
I've shared this part of my story before — but for most of 2016, I wrestled through an ugly bout of an anxiety and panic disorder. And here I stand, some two months into 2018 and I am elated to share that I haven't had even the beginnings of a panic attack in a good 8 months.
Have I been anxious? Yes.
Has fear tempted me to bow out of certain things? Yes.
Have I had to correct thought patterns over and over again before they spiral into chaos? Yes.
But the overall, suffocating and mind-altering fog of chronic panic and anxiety is — by God's great grace and by the blessign of modern medicine — gone.
I can stand firm on that truth, I can look back on that season of being a crippled prisoner of my own mind and I can say, "That's in the past. That's over there. I am over here now."
And yet — every so often, I have to fight to tell myself that I am not that girl anymore.
The girl who can't travel.
The girl who can't be in small spaces.
The girl who can't be in big places.
The girl who can't be the last one up at night.
The girl who can't be away from her husband.
The girl who gets nauseated and light-headed when she leaves the house.
The girl who can't eat because she's scared she'll throw up.
The girl who can't sleep because her mind is so stinkin' loud.
The list goes on and on...
Despite the fact that I am largely standing on the other side of that struggle; despite the fact that the Lord has so faithfully delivered me from that season of darkness and despite the fact that this chapter of my story is in the past — there is some part of my mind that attempts to filter my current reality through the smudged and scratched lens of anxiety.
There is still a part of me that has to fight to throw off the labels of "anxious," "damaged," and "crazy."
Those labels? Those identifiers? They're not true. They're not true now and — truth be told — they weren't even true when I was in the thick of the battle.
And when I give this whole thing even a little bit of thought — I can't help but think about how many other ways we do this in our day-to-day.
How many times have any of the below thoughts rattled around in the space between your ears?
He won't ask me on a second date because no one ever does.
I won't get that job because they always find someone better.
Those girls won't be my friend because they're pretty and I'm not — just like high school all over again.
I always get flustered when I give presentations. This time probably won't be any different.
No good guy will ever want to date me, let alone marry me. I always do too much and go too far with guys. Who would want me?
Do any of these sound familiar?
Whether you can relate to something on the list or not — each of these statements have something in common and in some way, we ALL do this.
Each of those statements are damaging because we aren't giving our present a chance to exist without the shadow of our pasts.
When we let our pasts call the shots, we are letting them taint, dictate and rob our futures.
When you let your past call the shots, you are letting Past You bully Now You.
In some way, shape or form — all of us struggle with leaving the past in the past. We all struggle with shirking off the old us and walking fully and freely in the new creation that we are promised in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
(Do you know that — in Jesus — you are a new creation? The apostle Paul tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation — the old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Your new has come, girl. Your new is here and your new is here to stay.)
My sweet husband Tyler has such a gentle and tender way of speaking this truth to me when I find myself teetering back and forth between believing I am who I was and I am who I am. With the kindest and most gentle authority, in Jesus' name, he looks at me and says, "It doesn't have to go down like that anymore."
Hear that, boo. Hear it loud and clear because Jesus says it, Paul says it and Tyler says it too.
It doesn't have to go down like that.
Your new has come.
You are not that girl.