It was one o’clock in the morning, both my parents fast asleep in bed and I was staring at the ceiling with my eyes open wide. There was a certain darkness that night that flooded into my room and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to make it go away. I tried hiding under my blanket, squeezing my eyes shut, and clenching my fists but nothing worked. I was trapped, and drowning in a fog of darkness so thick I wouldn’t be able to swim if I was some sort of superwoman.
It was a Thursday night. I had just gotten home from church where I felt connected and loved by dear friends. But for some reason, I felt like I was a ghost when I stepped into my house that night. I felt like anything and everything would go right through me, break me apart and leave me torn in pieces so small I wouldn’t even be able to tape myself back together. Why? Why did I feel this way when I knew I was so loved? And just like that, I was sinking deeper into the fog.
The more I thought about how I felt, the more frustrated I became. I grabbed what little hair I have in my fist and pulled and pulled. I clenched my fist and squeezed so tightly that my fingernails dug into my palms leaving half-mooned marks all over. If it wasn’t for the dead quiet of the night, I would’ve screamed.
In my head, I was screaming.
Someone help me. Anyone help me. Actually don’t help me. I don’t want anyone to see me like this because this is stupid and I’m stupid. I shouldn’t feel this way. My life is fine. I’m loved. But why don’t I feel like it? Why can’t I calm down? I am actually losing air. I can’t breathe.
My palms started to get sweaty. I was shivering, and I felt as though I might vomit at any given second. I wrapped myself in my striped blanket and walked slowly across the hall and into the bathroom. I curled myself up next to the tub and sobbed so hard I am still shocked my parents didn’t wake up.
I thought about everything. My friendships, and how I was probably failing them. My parents, and how I probably wasn’t the kid they thought I was. School, and how I wasn’t good enough at it. I thought about all of the ways I felt like I was failing. And then, I decided I was failing because I was sitting on the floor of my bathroom in tears. I must not be good enough for anything. I must be too broken to fix.
“God, what’s wrong with me?” I managed to say through choked sobs.
I needed an answer for this. Normal people don’t do this. But when I walked in my house that night, and I felt the darkness creep in around me like a thick fog, I panicked and I couldn’t catch my breath in the middle of it all. I was frozen in time, with a heart that was beating so fast you would’ve thought I had just ran a marathon.
Normal people aren’t like this. I told myself over and over again.
After a few more sobs and my last violent shivers, the feeling was gone. All that was left were tear stains on my cheeks, and a pounding heart. But I felt fragile. I didn’t quite feel like a ghost that anything could walk through, but I felt like a wall that might crumble if someone threw something so small as a pebble at it.
And so I went to my room, pulled out my journal and wrote.
I blamed myself over and over again for being a burden to my friends, for panicking, for feeling like I was suffocating in my fear. I’m sorry. I wrote it over and over again.
I’m sorry that I’m like this. I want it to go away. Just make it stop, please. I will do anything to make it stop. Why. Why. Why. What’s my problem?
It was ten minutes of pure Hell. Part of me thought I might collapse and die right then and there. The other part of me was ready to run away from myself as far as I could possibly go. It felt like I was drowning and I couldn’t get myself to the surface. I say that, and it sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not. I legitimately felt like I was on the brink of collapse out of terror. And unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time it happened. No, instead this was closer to the hundredth time.
Despite all the measures I took to keep it from happening again, despite everything I had learned, the suffocating fog came back in the middle of the night. It had been five months of mostly peace. And then for two weeks it was like this again.
Here’s my little secret, friends; it doesn’t ever go away. The fog of Fear never leaves me. I feel it everyday, and especially at night as I fall asleep. No matter what I do, it doesn’t ever leave me. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how closely I cling to Jesus or a certain scripture. The fog still comes in thicker than ever and clouds my brain, and I can’t breathe anymore.
It’s a really sad truth, but it’s the truth. I live with the fog everyday. The difference is the way I deal with the fog. I can’t just keep telling myself every time the fog comes in that I will try harder to keep it away, or that I will do better. Because it will never work. I am powerless in that way. And yes, Jesus is strong in my weakness and he provides the power I don’t have. And I fully believe that. For without him, I’m nothing more than that ghost from the beginning of my story.
But Jesus helps me see through the Fear. He helps me see through the Fear when it’s thin, and not a burden on my life. And those are the days, weeks and months that I feel free and joyful. But he also helps me see through the Fear the days when it’s too thick for me to see four feet ahead of me. Even though maybe those days I don’t feel as free, and I struggle to find the joy because I’m so overwhelmed by this constant thorn in my side… Jesus helps me see through it.
The best part, is that Jesus tells me it’s okay. He doesn’t tell me that I need to be better, fix myself, try harder, change anything, or that something’s wrong with me. He takes me as I am, and holds me in his arms and tells me nothing but truth. The truth of his deep love for me. He holds me while I cry my eyes out because I can’t breathe into the fog, and he holds me while I pick myself up and walk through the fog of Fear every single day. He never lets me go.
I just have the choice every day as I look at the fog. I can choose to try and make it through without Jesus or I can choose to go through it slowly and painfully with Jesus at my side every step of the way. Some days, I will be honest… I tend to pick the former. But I almost always fall flat on my face in sheer terror at the mass of fog in front of me. The beautiful thing, is that when I choose the latter, I always make it out of the fog with a smile on my face. I may lose the smile for a moment, but it comes back because my joy comes from his deep love for me.
This is what it is like for me. It’s a daily surrendering to Jesus Christ, and it’s a daily walk through a dark fog called Fear. But God is always good in the midst of it, and that’s the part that keeps me going.