Rachel Jenae

My Story: A Battle for Perfect Peace

It was a part I hadn’t shared in some time. The part where I was a fearful, anxious, completely absorbed in my own struggles, mess of a mind person, breaking down daily and quite possibly the neediest person around. Oh ya, that part. That was me.

I was sharing it with my mentor and, to someone who only knows me as I am now, she was completely shocked.  I was shocked by her shock actually, because to me, it’s just part of my story. I hadn’t thought about it in ages, but I could see the life giving power of testimony go forth on every word, almost begging God to do it again, as I told her where I use to be.  Fear was never me.  It was simply what Satan wanted me to be and live with for the rest of my life.  That’s always the lie.  “You’ll deal with this forever.”  Fear is what cancels out faith if we choose to believe it.  Fear is what keeps us bound up in never stepping out, never speaking up, never moving forward, never believing.  And it’s never satisfied with just a little ground, it will take your life.  Your whole life.  It must be fought.  It must be fought with truth and it must be fought to the death.

So for whoever this is for, this is my story…at least part of it.

I was 21 in 2003 and had just returned from the trip of a lifetime.  Myself and 26 other bible school students had boarded a plane to take the longest non-stop flight from LA to Sydney, Australia.  From there we boarded another plan to Brisbane and then another to Port Moresby, Papa New Guinea (PNG).  In two short weeks we had split up in teams and covered a lot of ground throughout the country.  My group had been on a small island out in the Pacific Ocean where we bathed in the ocean, used outhouses, had no electricity and most of the children had never seen white people.  Incredible, life-changing two weeks.  I returned and within a week was deathly sick with what we came to find out was malaria.  Three days, one blood transfusion, a million needles and some trillion killed parasites later I was released to go home.  Extremely anemic it took months to feel strength again.  I returned to school in the fall and quickly picked up my old routine as best I could.  Six months later is when the real fight started.  It was there all along, but malaria had brought it to the surface.  Fear.  Ugly, paralyzing, death-gripping fear.

It was never anything tangible, it never is.  It’s always just a shadow trying to scare us, but it was definitely tangibly gripping my life.  Physically I felt like I was hypoglocemic and I would eat every two hours to avoid dips in blood sugar.  Emotionally I was a wreck and most days would break down crying to sometimes even the most random people.  Mentally I was out of control.  I couldn’t get my mind to rest.  I was thinking, about thinking, about thinking and within seconds of having a fearful thought, my imagination would have me dead in one ridiculous scenario or another.  I would wake up in the morning my heart racing 100 beats a minute and panic would have me almost to the point of fainting.  I would wake up in the night and call my parents stricken with fear to even get out of bed.  I would literally feel paralyzed.  I felt completely alone in a crowd and if I wasn’t in worship at school, I wanted to be sleeping.  Those were my only places of peace.

This first bat with fear lasted only a month, but felt like a year.  Shew, it was over. Miraculously, one day I was praying for the kids coming to a youth camp I was involved in and I prayed for God to do what only He could do and when I went to sit down I immediately knew something had changed.  My mind was at rest, at peace.  At least for a while.

Fast forward three years and I was working at a church with the youth.  I lived with students who were attending a discipleship training school and assisting as the ‘house mom’.  Life was good. No great actually!  I was about to go on a trip with the students and several other leaders to Israel for the first time!  I was beyond excited!  The first three days were incedible, but driving into Jerusalem it was like a gust of wind came straight to my heart full of anxiety and it began again.  Here I was a leader on this trip breaking down most days and so full of anxiety that I didn’t know what to do.  Where had it come from? Why was I facing this again?  For the next 2 weeks on that trip I struggled and when I say struggled I am summarizing the fact that I couldn’t be alone, I began having blood sugar issues again and I was shaky and weak most of the time from thinking about thinking about all the things that ‘could’ happen, and I was exhausted.  I convinced myself that I just needed to be home.  My home. Back to comfort and known places.  Back where I knew I was safe and my mind could be at peace.  But… upon returning home, it didn’t stop.  I don’t remember many good days at that time.  I read a lot, prayed a lot, had worship music always on in my house, asked for prayer more often than I cared to but I couldn’t get past it.  This went on for the next four months.  I didn’t want to travel at all. Thinking about traveling gave me anxiety and then heartache because I knew it was part of my future.  The shortest trips out of my normal routine would have me a wreck by the time I arrived.  Four months of waking up every day and thinking to myself, “I’m not sure I can make it through this day”, but realizing what a stupid and silly thought that was.  I was convinced at any moment I would fall down faint from my hearts over-exurtion or a pie falling out of the sky. It was that ridiculous.  But even in knowing how ridiculous it was I couldn’t gain control over my thoughts or feelings.  Month my month the Lord would give me another word, “just keeping walking, don’t stop”, “take every single thought captive.”… and all I could do was hope, believe and keep walking.

I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but He was teaching me.  He was uprooting fear that was rooted in my life, but I had to choose to walk through it.  At any point, and believe me more than one person suggested it, I could have decided it was only a physical problem and gone and got some medicine.  God was teaching me how to take authority, how to take thoughts captive, how to uproot and replace fear with truth, how to renew my mind.  It was not a quick fix, miraculous breakthrough like the first time, which He could have done again, but in the process of walking through the valley I grew.  This time, he was showing me my authority as a daughter and He knew that the things that were coming in my life, fear was not an option.

At the end of those four months slowly something shifted.  One day here and there, then a week, then a couple weeks.  I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was still looking back, waiting, expecting it to reappear and trying so hard not to, but I had learned how to take every thought captive. Every feeling, every emotion, every single tiny thought.

I’d like to say that was the end of it.  I’d like to say that I never forgot what I learned in those four months, but I did. I forgot many times and all over again I would fight again and have to remind myself and go to friends to remind me.  The enemy knew this weakness in my life as much as he knew my strengths and he was always ready to pounce at any given moment if I left the backdoor open in any other area of my life.  There were times when I was completely on my guard against fear, but would start dealing with anxiety and not know where it came from.  Then the Lord would show me the backdoor I’d left open by gossip or dishonor or disobedience and fear had simply slipped in.

It wasn’t until 2009 that God completely shut the door to fear in my life and gave me the key.  No looking back. No waiting and wondering if it would rear it’s evil head again.  No trying to not look back.  It was done with once and for all!  Not to say I never have any fears, but when they come they have no roots to build on, they are normal thoughts that I then normally dismiss.  Even as I write that it is strange to know it so matter-of-factly, but I know in full confidence it’s true.  In the spring of 2009 when I had my last battle with fear God used an amazing couple in my life to asked me some hard questions.  Questions that dug up the last roots of fear.  You see deeply engrained in my “Christian” thinking was this off-base, false “truth”.  It was based on the fact that “God allowed me to get sick with malaria and almost die so what else would he ‘allow’?” And in that question was a root of doubt.  A root that was poisoning my trust of God with the thought that ultimately He was not good.    The goodness of God is who He is, just like the love of God.  It’s not something He does, it’s who He is and if we doubt that very foundational truth it will skew everything! It skews who God is, who we are and if we doubt His goodness we doubt why we would ever want to give up control to Him.  And isn’t that what it all comes down to?  Control.  Independent, rebellious control and wanting things our way.  Not fully comprehending that He has our best in mind and sees the big picture.  “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” -Isaiah 26:3

So…I challenge you, choose with me today to get out of bed and whatever you’re fearing today, to face it head-on and not give up.  Make a list of your heart’s desires and then make a list of the fears that keep you from doing them and you’ll very quickly realize how fear is gripping your life.  Don’t believe the lie that “this is just what I’ll live with for the rest of my life”.  It’s not true, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you it will probably be a hard battle! Probably the hardest battle of your life! To choose to believe truth every day! Because Satan’s out for your death and if fear is what will keep you paralyzed and contained from reaching your God-given potential, then why would He stop?  Put on some courage and decide that the battle is worth it and ‘greater is He who is in you than he that’s in the world’ and ‘you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you’.  Say it outloud and believe it.  Declare it on a daily basis.  Determine in your heart and mind to move forward and never give up!  The people and things ahead of you are waiting for you and you’ll need to be completely free of fear to take them on!

Today, I shared my story. At least part of it.

Now I’d love to hear yours! Either in the comments or with a link to your personal blog. Share your story! Share your testimony that will cry out, “Do it again, God! Do it again!”

Much love,