A LIFE CHANGING ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING GOD
My life was forever changed on Good Friday, 2020. This pivotal moment happened unexpectedly, in the quiet of my daughter’s room while I lay next to her, praying in time with her rhythmic breathing.
It was there that the Lord offered me an invitation to trust Him in a way that would transform my whole world. As I lay praying on my daughter’s bed, the Lord invited me to pray for healing from my life long mental illness—Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
I had heard of people experiencing physical healing and I believed God was capable of healing even me if He chose to. But healing was so far out of my theological comfort zone that it had never even occurred to me to ask.
MY SUMMER FROM HELL
I was diagnosed with GAD after what I call my summer from hell—the summer I prayed God would end my life after I found myself slipping off the end of my rope and falling into a deep pit of overwhelming despair.
I couldn’t be the wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister or Jesus follower I desired to be. After years of masking my increasing anxiety and distress, I had no energy left to continue faking it.
I could barely manage to get out of bed some days. I had no strength to pick up my insistent toddler or play with my older kids. Emotional reactions were easily triggered and sent me fleeing to my room, only to resurface the next day.
After several months living in what King David described as the valley of the shadow of death, my patient husband accompanied me to our family doctor, where I hesitantly explained what I’d been experiencing.
I completed a five-minute written assessment in her office. The doctor read it and said, “I don’t know how you’ve been living like this for so long.” Only by God’s grace had I survived those hours, days, weeks, months.
A RENEWED SENSE OF HOPE
The medication gave me a hope I hadn’t known was possible. I remember thinking, so this is what it feels like to be happy. Days turned into weeks, and I had increasing energy to accomplish the tasks that once felt so impossibly overwhelming.
It was life-giving to spend time with my children and be able to do what they needed and asked for. My husband and I began to go on date nights again without the excessive panic that had so often accompanied me in the past.
Medication was God’s provision for me in this season. I began to live in the joy, love, peace and freedom He wanted me to experience.
In this increasingly new normal, I began to delight in Him and His creation as I hadn’t done in years. It was as if He had given my heart a new song. I still had bad days to be sure, but now the good days outnumbered them.
A COMPASSIONATE COMPANION FOR THE JOURNEY
Eventually, I felt I had the fortitude to seek counseling—something I had wanted to do for years but had never felt capable of handling. I spent roughly a year with one counselor before deciding to move on.
About six months later, I found a new counselor and we had a great connection right from the beginning. At the end of our first session together she stated, “Caran, you are worthy.” I broke down and wept. Those were words I hadn’t believed about myself for a very long time.
She helped me find the self-worth and confidence I needed to set boundaries, express my ideas and preferences and advocate for my physical, emotional and mental needs.
She taught me to care for and speak tenderly and compassionately to myself. She walked with me on a path of deep healing, past and present.
A LIFE-LONG STRUGGLE WITH ANXIETY
Looking back on my childhood, I’d had good and bad days my whole life. I was labeled by family, teachers and my parents as overly sensitive, dramatic, shy, stubborn, and emotional.
They failed to see my constant companions of anxiety, fear and worry which affected my attitude, emotions and reactions.
I spent years honing my coping skills, putting up walls and learning how to show just enough vulnerability to feel authentic without giving too much away.
I had a handful of trusted friends who knew the truth and saw me at my lowest points. I spent hours each week in my high school guidance counselor’s office, seeking comfort, validation and insight into my struggles.
Yet relief was elusive. I felt misunderstood and alone. I believed I would have to fake certain parts of myself for the rest of my life just to feel normal.
A ROCKY START TO MY MARRIAGE
When my husband proposed to me, I couldn’t believe he loved me enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me; I certainly didn’t love myself like that.
The early years of marriage were difficult. I believed that I needed to suppress my needs in order to make my husband happy. I didn’t want to trouble him with my emotional distress.
Most nights after he was sound asleep, I soaked my pillow with tears. I was overwhelmed with a life I loved but felt was slowly suffocating me.
As we were blessed with kids, I felt my struggle deepening. It took more and more energy to survive each day. I wanted to be the woman my husband and kids needed; the woman I felt God was calling me to be.
GOD’S MERCIES ARE NEW EVERY MORNING
It wasn’t an audible voice I heard in my daughter’s room that night, but it was clear and unmistakable. Deep in my heart, I heard: “ask me to heal you from your anxiety.”
Jesus the Good Shepherd was speaking to my heart. I knew I had to take the leap of faith that He was inviting me to take. In barely a whisper, I pleaded: “Lord, please heal me of my anxiety.”
I woke the next morning, unsure of what had transpired in the physical realm as a result of my brief conversation with Jesus the night before. In faith, I didn’t take my medication, reasoning that I could start taking it again if it seemed I still needed it.
I didn’t take it the next day either, or the next. And I didn’t need it. My anxious thoughts and feelings were gone. In place of anxiety was deep peace. Jesus had done a miracle in me.
A GIANT LEAP OF FAITH
I was hesitant to tell my husband about my miracle. I could almost hear him saying, Let’s not rush this. Even if you’re healed, maybe you should wean yourself off your medication gradually.
Three weeks later, he pulled me aside and told me he’d noticed how happy I had been the last few weeks. He said that whatever I was doing, I should keep it up. I seized the opportunity.
“I have something to tell you, and you’d better sit down for this.” I described everything that had happened and how I’d been off medication for the last three weeks. He was shocked.
These are some of the immediate changes I experienced. I had no withdrawal symptoms from quitting my medication. My resting heart rate went from the high 90’s to high 70’s. I now needed only eight hours of sleep instead of nine. I didn’t feel tired from doing common chores.
My creativity increased. I wanted to face challenges and relational struggles instead of running from them. I no longer yelled at my kids. I could go on. There was no denying it. God had healed me instantly and completely.
A RENEWED MIND
Although I had been healed, I had to unlearn deeply ingrained, unhealthy thought patterns. I worked to break old habits of avoidance, guilt, and shame, a fear of rejection, learned helplessness and a victim mentality.
I learned to retrain my brain to look for the positive possibilities, and not only the negatives. I practiced the act of casting my cares on the Lord instead of replaying worst case scenarios over in my mind that would likely never happen.
My relationships transformed as I began to respond instead of react in conversations. Instead of viewing challenges as threats, I began to see them as opportunities. I began catching myself starting to rehash old conversations and stopped combing through them for what I shouldn’t have said.
As I began to seek these changes with the help of the Holy Spirit, my relationships began to change. Instead of giving in to distrust, or worrying that my loved ones would reject me if I opened up, I began to step out of my comfort zone. I initiated time with friends, no longer inhibited by fear or worry.
A POWERFUL PRAYER
Jesus said in Matthew 16:19b, “…whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Since asking the Lord to heal me, this has been one of the most powerful prayers I’ve prayed in regard to taking my thoughts and emotions captive. I pray that in the name of Jesus, that the spirit of discouragement, despair, exhaustion, fear or hopelessness would be bound.
Whenever a powerful emotion that is not from God washes over me, I ask Jesus to bind it, and to fill my heart with His truth instead.
There is so much freedom in the truth that God gives—joy, peace, delight, comfort and rest. I can truthfully proclaim with King David, I have tasted and have seen that the Lord is good. The Lord loves to set us free from the thoughts and emotions of the accuser.
NO SPECIAL FORMULA
A friend invited me to tell her small group the story of my healing and the steps that were involved. Essentially, she was asking if there was a formula I followed to be healed.
There is no formula to follow. I didn’t do anything to earn the right to be healed. It wasn’t because I had enough faith to believe it would happen. I’m no more special than any other follower of Christ. I didn’t make a deal. There were no conditions.
Abba Father, full of mercy and grace, who delights in giving good gifts to His children, chose to release me from the burden of my anxiety disorder, restoring mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health to my body and mind.
Jesus tells us that this prophetic passage found in Isaiah 61 was fulfilled in Him. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)
I believe one of the reasons Jehovah Rapha, God my healer, chose to heal me is that He loves to give good gifts. It reveals who God is—it is His nature to care for those in need.
A HUMBLE POSTURE
I sometimes ponder the idea that if I hadn’t been cultivating a relationship with God my Father, I might not have heard His voice speak to my heart that night. I might have missed out on the opportunity to experience true freedom, joy, peace and rest in Him.
Humbly posturing ourselves at His feet, as Mary did with Jesus in Luke 10:38-42, puts us in a position to hear Him speak to our hearts. Growing in our relationship with Him will always bring spiritual freedom, and it may bring physical healing as well.
God is for you, not against you. Jesus willingly gave up His life for you, dying a cruel death for your sins and your sorrows. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. God delights over you with singing. Come drink from the fountain of life and be filled. He is waiting for you with open arms.