1 Peter 2:9
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God for he has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
I had a panic attack in the middle of the mall last week. No, it wasn’t convenient, but is there ever an opportune time for a breakdown? Shopping for a dress with my mother turned into a race to find my breath and my sanity outside of Banana Republic. It was embarrassing to say the least. I’ve made great mental health strides in the past few months, and this felt like a giant step backwards.
Panic attacks are awful. I’m not talking about a little anxiety or worry. Panic attacks for me are real physical manifestations of terror and trauma. Mayo Clinic defines a panic attack as “A sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.” (Mayo Clinic, 2018).
Unfortunately, I’ve had several experiences with these attacks, and I know the drill. My heart rate shoots through the roof. My breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Dizziness and numbness throughout my extremities force me to find a safe place to sit and recover. I feel out of control and disconnected from reality. Honestly, in the middle of some panic attacks, I feel like I’m going to die.
These attacks are real, petrifying and I hate them.
Before the mental anxiety bursts into a physical response, there’s always a small and crucial window of time where my thoughts and fears are escalating and the stressful situation I’m facing somehow spirals into lies about my identity and future.
Ellie is un-choose-able.
Ellie is forgotten.
Ellie is worthless.
Ellie doesn’t belong.
These are lies. Lies that I believed in those moments before the panic attack at the mall. I allowed those thoughts to marinate, and before I knew it, I was having a full-blown panic attack.
My life situation in the past two years has not been helpful in calming my already anxiety prone temperament while under stress. And my ex-husband’s affair certainly didn’t help heal this bent towards a poor body image and self-rejection. However, I am not a victim. I have control over how I choose to respond to the predispositions in my personality.
To you, dear reader, I confess that I have believed lies from time to time. It is not pretty. I have not only been unsuccessful in walking into the identity God has given be, but at times I have actively believed and declared over myself the opposite of those truths. I, Ellie Herringshaw have contradicted the Creator of the universe by believing I am worthless and a nobody. I obviously cannot speak for everyone struggling with anxiety, but for me, this is my leading cause of panic attacks. Not okay.
So, I’m going back to the basics. Who am I? Who am I meant to be? What lies am I believing? In that period of time before the panic attack hits, when the lies are swirling, I can stop and declare 1 Peter 2:9. “But Ellie is not like that…” This opening line in the New Living Translation identifies the lie as a lie.
Lies say, “Ellie is un-choose-able.”
Truth says, “But Ellie is not like that. Ellie is a chosen person”
Lies say, “Ellie is forgotten.”
Truth says, “But Ellie is not like that. Ellie is a royal priest.”
Lies say, “Ellie is worthless.”
Truth says, “But Ellie is not like that. Ellie is a holy nation.”
Lies say, “Ellie doesn’t belong.”
Truth says, “But Ellie is not like that. Ellie is God’s very own possession.”
From this moment on, I’m taking a stand against anxiety and a negative self-image. I’m committing to my mental and spiritual health and refocusing on the truth of who I am and who God has made me to be.
I encourage you to do the same. Instead of sitting in the lies that swirl and rage against me, I am going to take up Ellie’s Emergency Anti-Feeling Crappy About Herself Protocol and recite 1 Peter 2:9 over myself. Join me when you need to!
There is freedom from anxiety, depression, and a negative self-image. That freedom is Jesus. Anxiety is rampant in our world today. If you’re struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, I encourage you to get help. I see a great psychotherapist and I highly recommend finding one. There is help! You’re not alone. This life is a journey of sanctification and growth. I am taking steps towards healing, and I refuse to have a panic attack again.
Em · July 10, 2018 at 3:55 pm
Well said! Thank you for writing this! I still deal with anxiety attacks even 3 years after my events. Mine come in the middle of the night most often. My lifeline has been learning to preach the truth of the Gospel to myself that Jesus was rejected by His Father while he hung on the cross so that I can be fully accepted forever and never experience rejection by God. We are wanted and beloved. This is so clearly displayed in Christ’s sacrifice for us.
Nick Peterson · July 11, 2018 at 2:58 am
Thanks for writing this Ellie. It reminds me of something I read by Martin Lloyd Jones from “Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures.” What you’re describing here is right in line with his advice: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/talk-dont-listen-to-yourself/
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