COVID-19 has brought a hearty amount of quiet time back into my life allowing me the time to ask myself the tough questions in life like:
Do I like where I work?
Do I like what I do for a living?
Do I feel fulfilled?
Do I like where I live?
Do the people in my life build me up or tear me down?
Do I like the life I am leading?
As I thought about these questions, what stood out to me the most is that I've been rushing for sooooo long that I’ve forgotten how to be still. I've been going from one job to the next, one project to the next, and one task on my to do list to the next that I haven't even had time to pause and ask myself the questions above, the questions that matter most.
One of the greatest things I've learned along my walk with God is that he loves when we are still. He loves when we take time to sit in silence and simply be in His presence. One of the most important things I've learned about myself is I'm terrible at sitting still. I'm an overly active human with a lot of energy. I'd rather run than walk. When it comes to swimming, I don't want to lounge on a floaty. I want to swim laps and play competitive pool games. Catch me at a coffee shop, and I'm not the girl journaling with a cup of warm green tea. I'm fueling up with espresso writing my next novel. Moving fast and thinking fast have helped me out a lot in my life, especially when I moved to LA to be an actor, but when it comes to spending time with God, it's not aided me one bit. Thinking about how swiftly I've been zooming through life over the past few years made me realize it was time for a drastic change. So, I decided to go on a long solo hike to get back to some quality time with God.
What I expected was a nice, blissful walk in the woods, but what happened was I got lost, dangerously lost.
Remember that I excel at rushing. So, when I zoomed to the hiking trail, I did so without packing a water bottle. It also happened to be 100-degrees outside. There was no shade anywhere on the hike, and I didn't tell anybody where I was going. Just to be clear, this is a terrible idea! Who goes on a hike by themselves in the middle of a scorching summer in California with no water? Apparently, I do.
So, I get lost on this crazy-big hiking trail, all alone, in 100-degree heat, with no shade or water for miles around me. I’ve never had a panic attack in my life, but in that moment, I felt all the symptoms of one creeping in. For those that have had a panic attack, my gosh I feel for you. For those who haven’t experienced one, let me give you an insight into what it feels like. Your body tenses so tight you feel like an iron-rod. Your breath begins to shorten. You can hardly breath, and your lungs begin to concave inside of you. No, really. You actually feel like your lungs are disappearing inside your chest.
Webster's definition of a panic attack is a feeling of intense fear, so intense that it causes the body to freak out and stop breathing. Do you know what this means? It means OUR THOUGHTS have the power to trigger a panic attack! And boy do we have some nasty thoughts. In, 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article summarizing research on human thoughts. They found that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts PER DAY, and of these thoughts 80% are negative!
The high percentage of negative thoughts we have is a great reminder of how much damage our thoughts can do. Honestly, I probably would have been okay if my thoughts didn’t spiral drastically to dark, negative thoughts. Literally, this is where my mind went….
* What if a coyote attacks me! * What if I pass out from heat stroke!
* What if I faint from exhaustion and nobody ever finds me! * What if I DIE!
And in a split second, I lost my breath. The only thing I didn’t do was cry, and that’s because I was too busy trying to stay alive that tears didn’t even have time to form in my eyes. Needless to say, I was freaking out!! Then I thought of these words, "This too shall pass.”
Whenever, I have been frightened or scared, I’ve said these words to myself. These words remind me that whatever uncomfortable feeling I am experiencing now, it won’t be forever. Life is full of dark and light situations, but the light will always overcome the dark because God is the light, and putting our trust in HIM always leads us to safety.
And 15-minutes later, after chanting, “This too shall pass,” like a monk in training I climbed up a very steep, rocky part of the trail, and saw my baby! There she was, my silver Toyota Corolla gleaming in the distance. Just a few more steps, and I was free, away from this isolated, hot hiking trail and on my way to a cool AC conditioned car and a jug, more likely a tank, of water. Alas, I was safe! But here's the thing, I managed to avoid having a panic attack before I spotted my car because I put my trust in God in the thick if my fears, not when my fears were over.
If I had relied on me, I might have been a goner, but I put my trust in Him during my dark and scary moment. Do you see what I am getting at here? If we put our trust in God only when things are good, then they will never be good. We must put our trust in the Lord in the darkest of times. A lot of us feel in the dark right now. We don’t know how long COIVD will last? If we will return to our former job? If we will even have a job to return to? Will we lose our house? Our business? Will we have to move to a new city?
If you’re struggling right now, I am with you. I’ve lost all my jobs, my apartment, and my future is clearly unknown. Come on, I’m hiking on isolated trails by myself. Thanks to COVID, I now live in the countryside of California. I'm surrounded by birds, bunnies, and salamanders so fearless I feel like an intruder when I step outside. It's so quiet, I can hear myself breath all the time, and I have no idea what shape my career will take when this passes, but what I do know is, “this too shall pass.”
My friend’s will have a wedding one day! I will have a secure source of income one day! I will be able to travel and see my family one day! Our God is a good God, and “this too shall pass.”
If you are feeling in the dark today, remember when we cling to the Lord, we will not live in darkness anymore because He is the light, and the light always triumphs darkness when we call out to it.
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