The summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school I decided to sign up for the diving team. My cousin, Andrea, who was more like a sister urged me to join her in this new venture. Always loving gymnastics and the Summer Olympics I agreed to give it a whirl and while most of our friends were snoozing we would wake up early every weekday morning in the chilly Michigan air and practice up at our local pool with one of the swimming coaches. Beginning a sport at the age of sixteen is definitely a challenge but with great effort I got through the season and surprisingly learned all of the different dives that were required to earn a varsity letter. Some dives were a little nerve-wracking but I found it fun and rewarding. The following year,when I became a senior, is when everything changed.
We started practice in August and quite a few months had passed since I stepped foot on the board so getting back into the groove was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. But I was determined and muddled through for about a month.
And then one late, dark September night the phone rang and from the other end came horrible news. My cousin, Jason, had been driving home from work and ran off the road right into a tree, totaling his car he had to be pulled out by the jaws of life. He was on life-support but brain dead and his dad told us that he was going to pull the plug. Jason passed away leaving behind two siblings, both brothers, one his twin. We went to a heart-wrenching funeral and buried my sixteen year old cousin. This horrific event triggered a fear inside of me that I had never experienced prior.
Every time I would get up on the diving board to do practically any of the eleven different dives that I practiced, all I could see in my mind was my forehead banking off of the hard board. I pictured blood pouring out of me and could actually see myself floating in the water. Panic and fear would rip through my whole being. My heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest and my stomach had butterflies fluttering around a million miles per minute. This was the first of many panic-attacks to come throughout my life.
Just the other day my mom asked me if she thinks that I could ever dive again. I told her that I could absolutely NOT!!! I would be so scared!! We talked about it and that very night I had a dream that I was a senior in high school and back at practice. It was one of those dreams that seemed so real. My coach was there and my friends. I even told Joe about it when I woke up.
The next evening my mom and I, Jonah and Ayla were having dinner out at our favorite restaurant and the head coach of the Swimming and Diving team happened to walk in with his wife. I hadn't seen him for a number of years. I went over to him and said hello and told him about my crazy dream.
With Christmas this past month my anxiety level has been through the roof to a new place that I didn't even know existed.
Furthermore, I think God is trying to convey something to me. He has helped me to recollect the very first time I felt out of control and washed over with fear and He is reminding me that He was right there with me holding my hand just as He is right now. He hasn't let go and He won't! When I am out of control, He is in control. I don't believe that He allowed and allows me to suffer through this without a purpose. Maybe I will always struggle with this anxiety and panic.
But I won't live through it alone and helpless.
I have an ever-present, omnipotent, all-knowing, all-loving, never-turning, life-breathing, mercy-showing, , unfailing, tear-washing, always restoring, ever-faithful in His redeeming GOD at my side!!!!
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."