Have you ever been attacked?
I’m talking about the kind of attack, where you’re going about your day as if nothing is out of the ordinary, and all of the sudden someone shows up and scares you to your core. They hold a gun to your head, and they make you question absolutely every decision you’ve made that day to be standing in the position you’re standing at that very moment.
“Maybe if I would have left 5 minutes later…”
“If only I had taken a different route to the park…”
Would this still be happening to me right now?
That’s how the enemy works. He comes out of nowhere, when you least expect him- maybe even when you’re feeling most confident- and he scares you so much you question everything you’ve done to be who and where you are at that very moment.
I’ve been attacked like this.
I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Impact Women’s conference at LifePoint Church in Minden, Nevada recently. I can’t tell you how ridiculously honored I felt to have been asked to train for an entire hour (God help me) about overcoming fear! I mean, what the heck do I know about that? But because I have such a big mouth on this dang blog sometimes, someone though that maybe I knew a thing or two about gaining perspective through fear, and persevering.
Either way, I accepted and made the trip across the country to work, and be involved in this conference.
Ironically, it was at this very conference two years ago that I decided to start this crazy blog, and it was the organizer of the event who read my blog about spiders (check it out here) and asked me to speak. So I totally get that there are no coincidences, and I absolutely love that this particular conference was so impactful for me personally, so it was a no brainer. I was going to make it happen!
I also have to point out the crazy fact that I only became a believer in Christ about 7 years ago, so to be speaking on the stage, for one hour, at my home church across the country… this crazy God thing was not lost on me. God is so dang big, sometimes it freaks me out- in the best way.
Anyway, I digress.
I headed out to Nevada and had a whole slew of things to do during the week and a half leading up to Impact Women. I was very busy, and I traveled from Nevada, to Oregon, to California and back to Nevada. It was somewhere around the Bay Area when my attacker started coming for me.
Apparently, it’s a thing- and I should know this by now- that when you step up and step out in faith to glorify the Father, you better believe that the enemy is going to be coming for you. They had not prepared me. I did not expect this. And at first, I didn’t even recognize what was happening to me.
I pulled into Livermore, California on the Wednesday morning before I was to speak at church that Saturday. I didn’t feel well. Like I physically felt like I was getting sick.
‘Great timing!’ I though flippantly. Remember how I JUST said that I don’t believe in coincidences. Yea. So by lunchtime that day, I was so exhausted that I had to lay down and take a nap. Imagine that! I was at my friends house, someone I don’t see regularly, and I had to take a dang nap in place of spending time with her.
When I woke up, I still just felt ill. Just not well. And I started to feel this pressure on my chest. I am someone who has struggled with anxiety in the past, and the way my anxiety works, is it shows up physically way before it shows up mentally. I won’t even know what I’m anxious about until I’m about to pass out and I’m in a full on break down.
So to feel the pressure in my chest- pressure that I thought I had conquered years ago- I felt immediately intimidated. I felt out of control. As a matter of fact… I felt controlled. I felt manipulated. But at that point, I just felt angry at my body and my weakened physical state due to the fact that I had been going 100 miles an hour for about a week of my trip. Or at least, that’s what I blamed it on.
I ended up having to abort the over night stay at my friends, and decided to head home to my mom’s house in Woodland California (a 1.5 hour drive at 10:30 at night) just because I felt so worn down and exhausted, I decided that I had to get some rest if I was going to get through the anxiety.
I slept until 10:30 that next morning. I hardly EVER do that! And I woke up feeling tired and anxious! It was at that point that I started to wonder if maybe I was under attack…
You see, I had just recently finished the bible study ‘Armor of God.’ This is a FANTASTIC study, and it is deep, and it is raw, and it is hard. And I still don’t believe in coincidences. And the thing that made me question my symptoms was this nugget I took from the study:
Where the enemy has been successful before, he will be successful again.
I have never been so attacked, so controlled, so defeated and so manipulated as I was when I struggled with anxiety. And to feel those familiar- yet far removed- symptoms coming back, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was being attacked.
I mean, it wasn’t until this point that I realized… ‘Um yea… I am about to go speak at a church conference where there will be 500 women- some believers, some not- and I’m about to give them my testimony and point to my Lord and Savior.’
Yea, I am probably under attack!
That night, now Thursday night, I was meant to speak at a meeting in Sacramento (for my business, not for God- and yet always for God), and I felt so clearly that God was telling me that morning that I needed to say no. I needed to take it off my plate.
How many of you hear God and say, “I hear you, but I’ve got this!”
Yea, me neither.
But on this day, I did that. I decided that morning that I could make it through. I was capable. I prayed for strength and went on with my day.
As soon as I did that, my stomach started to turn. I started to feel like anything I ate very well may come screaming out of my body. And so I decided that the way to handle that is to not eat. A SUPER good idea considering I felt incredibly physically weak.
I managed to not eat until dinner. And although I felt super convicted that afternoon AGAIN to ask if I could be taken off the list of speakers for that evening, I told God that I could handle it.
I couldn’t. That night, after dinner- yes, I finally had to eat- I had to step down as speaker about 15 minutes before I was to speak (that’s not fair to my fellow meeting organizers) for fear that I would pass out, crap my pants, or just die during my 20 minute talk.
This lead to fear. Self doubt. But mostly fear.
The enemy had grabbed hold…
What if… I can’t do the one hour long break out session on Saturday? What if I can’t do it?
You guys, my breakout was entitled ‘The ‘WHAT IF’ shift.’ You can’t make this up.
Thursday night I accepted that I was, in fact, under attack. But what I was disappointed to realize is that the enemy was gaining ground. It wasn’t the other way around. The doubt, the fear, the ‘what ifs’ were mounting. And as much as I prayed- constantly- I didn’t seem to feel the Holy Spirit coming to my rescue. I enlisted friends and family to pray as well. But I also maintained the confidence- although somewhat dwarfed- that I was going to be able to handle it. I was just going to pray, and God and I were going to make it through.
Although I had just finished the Armor of God study, I didn’t seem to think that all those other lessons I had learned and eternalized where worth dragging out just yet. (This is where we should all give a collective head smack).
Either way, Friday morning- my birthday- I woke up feeling a touch better! I drove to Nevada and met with some friends for lunch, and although I did still feel the ever present pressure on my chest, I did start to feel like I was gaining ground and this was going to remain in my control.
Sure, I was under attack. And yes, God would fight on my behalf. But there are tools people. There are amazing shields, and shoes, and helmets and swords that we can use. God has given these things to us. He has equipped us with the armor and the weapons to fight back, and to not just be successful in warding off attacks, but to also find victory in defeating the enemy!
This, I did not tap into.
Friday afternoon, I had a massage scheduled. It was my birthday! And after the long week and a half I knew I would have leading up to my conference, I figured I would need it. But by this point in the week, I was basically convinced that there was no way to fully overcome this war… I was just going to have to weather it.
You see, I wasn’t fighting back so much as I was just trying to defend and stand. But I was too exhausted.
Friday afternoon, the enemy started to take his final blows. He was coming for me. And I was realizing quickly that it wasn’t going to be enough for me to just try to withstand… I was losing. And I was going down hard.
After lunch I felt bad, quickly. You see, one of my biggest fears is shitting my pants in public. Yes, this blog just took a turn. I’m sorry for that, but I need to be real here. I am VERY afraid that my anxiety- which causes me to have an upset stomach to the point where I either can’t eat, or can’t leave the house- is going to ruin my life. I’m very afraid of this. And after I ate lunch, I was basically panicked that I was either going to have to leave my massage in the middle, or worse, I was going to have to fast from that point clear on through my breakout session, which was about 24 hours away.
These are not ideal circumstances, people.
So I told myself that I would be fine. This enemy is not going to keep me from a massage. This is what I need. I need to freaking relax. I need a break. I need to not think. I need to just chill the heck out. So I’m going.
As soon as I laid down on the table I felt my heart beat in my stomach. Maybe you’ve had that happen before when you’re nervous. That seems logical now. But for me, in that moment, I was certain- without doubt in my mind, I swear to you- that I was about have an aortic aneurysm.
Yes, these are incredibly rare, I realize. But I have a husband who was a first responder and I know about these things. And I am a super weird person, with a random medical history (nothing related to my heart) but I became absolutely convinced that one of the following would happen:
- I was about to die on the table and my poor friend- the masseuse- would have to deal with that for the rest of her life.
- I was going to have to interrupt my massage so that I could call 911 and be rushed into surgery to hopefully prevent the inevitable in time or…
- I was going to wait until after the massage and then drive myself straight to the ER.
This is funny now, but it wasn’t funny then. This was real to me. This was absolutely how seriously I felt. I was sure that my last breathes were upon me. And I spent the first 20 minutes of a 90 minute massage debating these three options- as they were my only options.
At about the 1/2 way point I had made peace with the idea of dying on the table. That wouldn’t be the worst way to go. And quite frankly I preferred dying, at that point, to going to the ER because of what would likely be diagnosed as an anxiety attack (trust me, I’ve been there).
It wasn’t until the hour mark that I started to consider the ridiculous lengths my attacker would go to to stop me from speaking. Not just stop me from speaking, but to make me question if I could ever speak again.
It was at that point that I started to put on my armor…
Well, if I’m being honest, I couldn’t remember- in the middle of my attack- what the heck the armor was!!!! Sword of the what? Helmet of salvation? Or is it Helmet of Spirit? And the shoes of the word? Or was the shield the word?
I couldn’t remember a thing I had learned. No defense was coming to me. Nothing.
And so I did the only thing I could think to do… I started to visualize myself putting on the Armor of God.
In Ephesians 6:10-12 says:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
No, I couldn’t remember the pieces of armor and what God tells me they shield me from and arm me with, but I could remember that I had a freaking suit of armor given to me from God and all I had to do what put it on. And that’s what I did. I visualized putting on the helmet, and the breastplate, and the shoes, and the sword… I pictured it, and with each piece that I donned, I could feel the enemy shrinking away.
That evening, I went to church. The organizer of Impact Women, Sunny Cain, a fierce woman of God, put together a worship night for the speakers and the people closely related to the conference. When I walked in that church, I saw women who had been shaken. They had been fighting the good fight, just like I had. They looked tired, and weary, and fearful. They looked like I felt.
And that made me feel better.
Like I said, they did not prepare me. These women expected it- as we all should- because a lot of them had grown used to doing big things to further the Kingdom, and yet as much as I wish I would have been prepared, I’m so grateful for the lessons I learned during that attack.
We came together that night, and with worship lead by the amazing front man of I Am They Band- my friend, Matt Hein- we sang, we prayed, we cried, and we fought for 2 hours straight. I’m not kidding you. Music never stopped. Prayer never stopped. We just fought privately, together. And it changed me.
If you’ve ever been attacked, you know how violated you can feel. You know how shaken up you can become. You know how much doubt, and fear can creep in. You question everything…
When I sang ‘We will not be shaken… We will not be shaken… We will not be shaken…” over and over again, through my tears, I could feel us overcome.
Yes, it got worse before it got better. Yes, I was broken down to the point that night, where I was asking myself, “Who do you think you are? You are a brand new believer! You can’t stand in front of these people. You can’t tell them what you hardly know. You can’t stand on the stage at church. You are WAY out of your league here.”
But the Lord lives in me. And with him… I will not be shaken.
Well, I might have been shaken a little… but I overcame… With He who gives me strength (Phil 4:13).
I walked out of church that night with my head held high. The pressure in my chest was gone. Completely. My stomach was settled. My heart was full. I felt strong. I felt victorious. I was smiling like an idiot. We will NOT be shaken.
I slept well that night. I woke up excited. I wasn’t nervous- well, no more than I normally would be. I didn’t feel sick. I even ate food and felt fine. I didn’t even wonder for a second if I wouldn’t be the exact right person to deliver my message. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.
Thank you, Lord, for that. Because as much as I tried to equip myself, I am only human. I can’t do what YOU can do. And I rest easy knowing YOU have won it all. You have already declared victory over an enemy who might win a battle here and there, but he will NEVER win the war. I have been gifted the armor of God himself, and I now know exactly how to use it.
So again, was it a rough week? Absolutely! But on the other side- from this perspective- it was a miracle. It was God moving. It was a complete pleasure and honor to be used by Him, and to be armed by Him. And I’m so grateful I got to see it all first hand. Because God is always good. He never changes. And He and I are ready for the next round! 🙂