Panic Attacks, Pumpkins, and Peace

Confession:  I am addicted to productivity.  It’s time to just admit it.  It doesn’t matter where I am, or what role I’m in at the moment.  I have a deep desire to always be doing something, going somewhere, and accomplishing goals.

“I feel as if my skin is the only thing keeping me from going everywhere at once!”      ~Prince Henry, Ever After

Every addiction has a consequence, and mine happens to be panic attacks.  It happens when my list of goals becomes unrealistic, yet my perfectionism won’t back down.  This happened to me again just last week.  It was a minor panic attack, but it still qualifies.  My mind was doing its normal thing, going in a thousand different directions.  Ideas flooding my brain, distracting me from any work or activities I had planned to do that day.   Or any other day.  For three days straight.  I should be doing THIS!  I have been totally neglecting THAT!  I felt like a total failure because there were so many things I should be doing, but because there were so many, I felt paralyzed from doing anything.  My heart was racing, I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t breathe.

Usually when I get this way, I can calm myself down by creating a plan – reworking my calendar so I feel time expand again.  Nerdy, I know.  But it only helped a little bit this time.  So I got more serious about it.  I sat down and wrote a 6-page mission statement for my life, Jerry Maguire style.

“Without a vision the people will perish.”      ~Proverbs 29:18

Writing a vision helped a lot, but I still felt antsy and short of breath.  So I really let loose and made a chart of my goals and a color-coded priority list.  Very nerdy, I know.  That should have done the trick!  Planning has always been my go-to remedy for self-induced stress!  And all these things I was panicked about doing – these ideas I’m having – they are good, Christian goals.  They will further God’s mission.  So why was I still so overwhelmed?

Good news.  I’m perfectly okay now.  Why?  Because I went back to Jesus.  I must have lost sight of Him while I was so busy scheming about how I was going to single-handedly save the world.  But as soon as I got back to Him, I could breathe again.  And my heart stopped racing.  He should always be my go-to remedy.  He already has the plan figured out.  He is my calm.  My peace.

So how did I get back to Jesus this time?  I picked up a book I had been neglecting – The Imitation of Christ.  It’s a wonderful little jewel, packed full of reminders to be humble and loving, to live simply, and to stop worrying.  It’s basically a centuries old version of “What Would Jesus Do?” – remember that movement a few years ago?  Everyone was sporting WWJD armbands and t-shirts.  I never jumped on the WWJD bandwagon when it was popular.  I was too cool for clichés at the time.  But now I’m really wishing I had the WWJD armband to wear as a daily reminder to “Keep Calm and Imitate Jesus”.  (Has that t-shirt been made already?!?  I would seriously be the one wearing it, long after the fad is over!)


It is just so typical of me to miss the party like that.  It’s as if my fairy godmother magically appears to make me a dazzling dress.  I squeal with delight, dancing around in the fairy dust in my glass slippers.  I ride in the magic pumpkin on the edge of my seat, finally arriving at the castle to impress everyone at the royal ball only to find…the ball was yesterday.  Perfect.

But here’s the awesome thing about Jesus.  He’s not a cliché or a passing fad.  His royal ball is not over yet.  I can still show up, even though it’s past midnight and all the magic I thought I had has worn off, leaving me in rags.  He still has the full banquet prepared, waiting for me.  He’s ready and willing to fill me up so I have enough to give to the world through my productivity.

I lose my glass slipper all the time.

I’m usually tripping over the pumpkin and getting the seeds stuck in my hair.

The fairy dust is pretty, but I have asthma, so it makes me cough.  Classy.

But the Prince of Peace doesn’t mind.  He’s delighted to see me come back to Him.  And I’m so grateful He lets me stumble into His ballroom so I can find peace again.  I’m so blessed that, even though I’m not gracefully gliding across the dance floor in a sparkling dress, He lets me collapse, exhausted, into His arms.

I get that being overwhelmed by my self-created to-do list is most definitely a first world problem.  But this was yet another reminder to me that I need Jesus.  Every.  Single.  Day.  We all do.  Whether we are battling cancer, or fleeing terrorism, or trying to survive a trip to the grocery store with a toddler, or fighting a productivity-addiction-induced panic attack – we need His peace.  His calm.  And we definitely need the royal ball that is waiting for all of us.  Waiting for us to just come back.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”    ~John 14:27

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