Give it all up! (just one of my stories)

Give it all up and follow God!

Now why would I do that?  I go church when it counts?  I pray once in awhile about the things that I need?  I believe there is a God and he has a son named Jesus?  I’m spiritual? I’m religious? Oh and by the way, I am so NOT a sinner like everyone else!  Isn’t that enough! Besides, I like my things, my life, myself.  Why does being a good Christian require me to give it all up? Would I have to change my friends, job, personality?  Sell my house, my possessions, go door to door?  Would I be labeled a Jesus freak, born-again, crazy christian?  Will the chatter around me assume something really, REALLY bad has happened to me and I had 3 choices, self-inflicted death, an evil pathway or accept Jesus as my savior!

Or do I simply not understand exactly what following a Christian life really means?

Exactly!  I had no clue.  In fact it scared me to the core.  I was a Catholic girl.  Still dabbling here and there at my local church.  Truly adoring the people, priests and programs, but not getting a clear message.  The traditional forum was getting to be monotonous.  I knew there had to be something else.  Something deeper and it was tugging at my heart for years. 30 plus to be exact.

Enter a true emergency.  I got sick.  Mentally ill in fact. Firstly, during my college graduation I unfortunately had my first of many Panic Attacks.  Having no idea what was going on, I thought I was having a heart attack.  At 21?  Yes, I was convinced and embarrassingly led out of the large graduation ceremony to a medic room to watch 4 years go by without that proper acknowledgement.  To this day, my mother still thinks I “slept in” and blew it off. Geesh!  Those attacks were a few and far between and lasted only a few months.  Then they were gone.  Fast forward 3 years, a new city, wedding engagement and full-fledged panic disorder overtaking my life.  And without health insurance to heal it properly.  Somehow, that faded away too.

Faster, faster forward to my 39th year. And you all know what comes next, the big 4-0! For some reason THAT scared me to death. Literally.  It was the unreal and that really haunted me. Simply watching a TV medical drama and seeing a 39-year-old male have chest pains and die due to a heart attack freaked me out.  Reality that a young (I still think 40 is young) mom with 2 kids in the car, getting into a deadly car accident then autopsy reports saying it was due to a heart attack, that was petrifying.  And, on and on and on.  Why my fear was around the (cardiac) heart, I have no idea.  It did prompt me to see a cardiologist and get a full work-up. BTW’s my heart is in great shape. That helped.  Well, a little.

But the turning point was in that 39th year and my overwhelming fear of getting older that my mind started to race.  And it was going faster than I could keep up with.  For no real reason at all.  No death in my immediate circle, no incurable illness, no financial burdens, kids were good, marriage was good.  I, should have been good.  On top of the world.  But I wasn’t and a reality check set in that changed me for the long-term better while enduring the short-term worse.  Enter full working panic disorder with general anxiety and attacks every waking moment and during my precious sleep too.  I couldn’t sleep, function, eat.  I lost several pounds (that was slightly a highlight).  My family & doctors didn’t know what to do because I was adamant about not taking medication.

One day my mother came over fearing my condition was worsening and asked me to go visit a friend of ours.  A woman I had known most of my life.  She had worked with my mother and watched me grow up through my odd teenage years, prom, college and weddings.  We had lost touch over the years but I would run into her around town.  She was a true friend of my family.  But moreover, she was a true Christian woman.  One that was intrigued by the Proverbs 31 woman.  She modeled that.  But she was real, modern and seemed to “get this” world we live in.  Faults, sins and all.  A beautiful married woman, with a beautiful family of 3 kids, husband, and a successful business, she was a working mom who seemed to have it all.  I wanted to model her. I didn’t know why, but I did.  Did she “give it all up” too?  I found out she didn’t, while she actually did!

My mom set up the date and I awkwardly accepted.  I was to go to her house and talk to her.  Just that.  Weird right?  No premise, no specific topic, no wine, just ladies who lunch.  Eek.  I had no idea what we were going to say.  Come to find out, neither did she.  I respectively brought over lunch and we sat at the table and chit-chatted for a while.  Mainly about life, a little about my condition, stuff.  Then, enters the Lord.

My friend had a sister whom was a Christian warrior and so loved the lord that on her deathbed she was still full of grace and praise for our king.  My friend had just spoken to her sister before my visit and her sister was praying for us during our time together.  When the conversation turned “jesusy”, I got uncomfortable.  I never thought of him as a solution to my problems let alone I needed to build a relationship.  But through the grace of my friends love for Christ (and me), her sisters prayers and petitions and Jesus’s presence right there at that table, my curiosity sparked.

From there I was asked to partake in a bible study with a Christian starter kit/guidebook and 3 ladies who love coffee and the lord.  We met weekly and through a baby step, open-minded approach, I started to realize, I have been very lost in the way I was living my life.  I thought I had a good life but discovered I had a bad, covetous attitude.  My world view was way off and my self worth was ignorantly displayed by the things I possessed, flashed and displayed for all to jealously admire!  I wasn’t living my best life because I was convinced I was in charge of my life.  Oh what the foolish at heart are capable of manifesting in our heads.

Through medicine and therapy (and of course the Grace of God), I do have my Panic Disorder/Anxiety under control.  But still, on occasion, when those attacks happen? I no sooner dive into my bible and they seem to go away.  Hmmm, go figure!

The lord started to do a work in me and brought about more chapters I hope to share with you very soon.

Grace and Love,

Jodi

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