I must admit I’m sad to see our garden now gone.
I miss the garden even though it didn’t yield much in the way of produce. Our backyard seems so barren and drab now with the garden dead and the left over plants brown and brittle and crushed under the weight of the snow and frost.
For awhile this Fall we had unseasonably warm weather. That warm weather meant the grass was greener longer, which was welcome, but not normal and I don’t like when things are abnormal when it comes to my routine and environment.
The days became shorter, nights and mornings cooler and I knew soon there would be less sun. Because things had been so weird in the world the past several months, I was actually yearning for the normalcy of warm weather fading into cool weather and cool weather slipping into cold weather. I wanted, in some ways even, for it to get darker earlier, though it meant less sunlight and time to play outside with the kids. Yet, even as I yearned for the normal cold of winter, in the pit of my stomach I felt dread because weird things seem to happen in my world when the days are shorter and the sunlight is less. Most years it’s is depression that sets in and invades everything in my life.
Last year it was depression but it was also sickness and the loss of our dog and then for three months straight I vibrated inside like I was sitting 24/7 on an engine.
No one could figure the vibrating out - not my family, not doctors. A couple blood tests were off but nothing pointed to a medical cause of what I could only describe as internal vibrating. Not being able to pinpoint a reason for it scared me and the more fear set in, the more I vibrated, night and day.
When it started I thought it was my ears. They had been stuffed and full all winter and my balance was off. No one else thought it was my ears. They thought it was all in my head. Soon I began to think the same thing and even now, I still wonder. The only people who could relate were two friends - one who had something slightly similar during panic attacks and another who said a friend who had recently lost her brother told her she had been vibrating inside for weeks and felt it was from extreme stress.
I hadn’t faced any trauma, though, so what was wrong with me, I wondered. Losing a pet who had been part of our family for 14 years wasn’t the same as losing a brother, even if the loss of the dog was intertwined with overwhelming guilt for me since I believed, and still believe, I could have reduced my little dog’s suffering if I’d only focused more on his needs and less on my own.
The vibrating wasn’t a symptom of any medical conditions, a doctor told me. It was much more likely my physical symptoms were stemming from mental anguish, anxiety and a complete loss of normalcy and security in my life, she said. In other words - I was suffering a near mental breakdown, or at least that’s how I understood what the doctor said.
In the next month heart palpitations and nighttime waking caused by feeling like I had stopped breathing kept me awake most nights. I felt like my body was turning on me, trying to kill me. I soon realized it wasn’t my body that was trying to kill me but my mind. And even more than my mind it was spiritual forces influencing my mind and driving me further into panic, fear and sheer terror.
Were my symptoms real?
Honestly, there are days I still wonder.
I stepped up my electrolytes and started to stretch muscles and do lymph node massages to try to drain the ears. I listened to sermons day and night about fear and rebuking evil. Slowly the vibrating stopped and one morning I woke up and it was gone completely.
Even now I can't be sure what combination helped the most, or what was really going on, but I know prayer was the only thing that got me through.
Trusting Christ, using His words to fight a battle waging around me in the spiritual realm was what I needed most. This is not the first time I've found myself battling demons and knowing things were moving against me spiritually.
Before the battle was against the very fabric of my family. This time it was my health and like before I only saw the physical battle. Even more during this battle than the last, I was spun out of mental control. This battle told me I was going to die and leave my children alone. These thoughts didn’t just tell me my family would fall apart but I would lose Nmy life.
There are times I still feel the dread that it will all happen again but I know I now have weapons I didn't quite understand how to access before. And I’m still learning.
A sermon by Joseph Prince about the battle for our mind is something I have listened to on repeat for almost a year now.
Prince talks about our mind being where the main battles are waged in our life. And those battles are launched in the spiritual realm, not the physical one.
The battles we often see as physical- the health concerns, the financial worries, the tension within our families- are being waged in the spiritual realms and we can’t fight them the way we would in the physical world. Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons and our main weapon is fervent, focused prayer.
Speaker Priscilla Shirer saysin her book “Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer”:
“If I were your enemy, I’d magnify your fears, making them appear insurmountable, intimidating you with enough worries until avoiding them becomes your driving motivation. I would use anxiety to cripple you, to paralyze you, leaving you indecisive, clinging to safety and sameness, always on the defensive because of what might happen. When you hear the word faith, all I’d want you to hear is “unnecessary risk.”
And that is what happened to me - I was crippled mentally. I couldn't fathom anything positive coming from what was happening to me and I lost interest in everything I loved. I clung to my house and my bed and yes, I felt having faith was a risk to me, to have my hopes and dreams shattered around me.
When I find my thoughts drifting back to last year, to the darkness and the fear, I try to remember what finally pulled me through - placing my focus not on my enemies of Fear and Dread and Infirmity but on Christ and my knowledge of Him wanting the best for us, even when we feel like our lives are totally out of control.
We may not always understand why we are in the midst of our trials but we always know who is the author of our story and He was there when our story began and He will be there when our story ends.