Control, Panic, and Finding our Anchor

Breathing is something I usually don’t notice. If I slow down, I become aware of how wonderful breathing feels. How the air currents rush through my nostrils, as if they are racing each other to my lungs. How my entire body seems to open up in order to receive a new breath. How the whole process seems to make me feel lighter.

Usually, I don’t pay attention to these feelings. I just go about my day and assume breathing will continue on in the background.

I have been more aware of my breaths lately. Because not long ago, I couldn’t find them.

I was lying on my bed, chatting with my husband. My mind was swirling with the unknowns of the future. I was crying and trembling as my heart raced to keep up with my thoughts.

Suddenly, the weight of panic settled in and rested upon my chest. My lungs could not bear the burden. I lost control. I gasped in short bursts. I exhaled in sputters. I ached for oxygen. I struggled to find a rhythm. I felt my torso heave.

I hyperventilated.

Slow and steady, my husband settled me into calm. He anchored me, and my breathing gradually returned to normal.

What caused this?

Housing. Another thing, like breathing, that I take for granted.

Months before, my husband and I made an offer to buy a house. It was a short sale. Lots of hands in the same basket meant a long process of negotiation. The banks could not come to an agreement with the sellers by the time we relocated.

We moved in with my husband’s parents.

As much as we love them, this was not a good long term solution. We were anxious to get the housing situation figured out.

Since the bank didn’t meet their deadline, we were no longer contractually obligated to the property. We made an appointment with our realtor to see what else was on the market.

As it turns out, by the time the day came to look at houses, the bank had reached an agreement with the first house. It was ours if we wanted it. With a guaranteed closing date within the month.

But, we still decided to look. Just in case there was something else we liked more.

Turns out, there was. We fell in love with another house.

We decided to pull our offer on the first house in order to go after the second house.

We waited, overnight, to hear back from the sellers of the second house. This is what brought on the panic attack.

This was a self-imposed stress.

Though it was nerve-racking, it was our choice to be in that place of panic. We chose to look for houses. We chose to give up the house we had in our pocket. We chose to take the risk of going for a different house.

We exercised our choice and exerted our control.

Interesting that as soon as we exerted our control, we lost our control. We had no influence over whether the sellers of the house would accept our offer. We had no say in when they would desire to move, and whether that would match up with our timeline. We had no ability to make the house pass inspection

And in the middle of these unknowns, I hyperventilated. A reminder of how little control I actually have.

Sometimes we feel like life is completely within our direction. Like we have a grasp around all of it. We think we can chose which way to go and know exactly what will happen.

Most of the time, it turns out, control is an illusion. We never have power over the unknowns. And sometimes, we even lose our influence over the knowns.

When the uncertainties of life cause us panic, the answer is not to grasp harder for control. It is allow the One who loves us settle us into calm. Because no matter what we don’t know, we do know this. Jesus is Lord, and He loves us beyond measure. Christ can be our anchor in the midst of our stress.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” –Hebrews 6:19

Have you ever panicked? How has Christ been an anchor for you?