Hi, my name is Karen, and I am a grateful believer in Christ who struggles with fear and anxiety.
I came into the world weighing less than three pounds. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was just 2 years old and was subjected to five surgeries before the age of 10. I had one additional surgery my sophomore year of high school. All the surgeries were traumatic and fearful events that came with many unknowns.
I don’t remember comfort, compassion, or explanations regarding the surgeries I endured as a child—just feelings of fear and vulnerability. The one thing I did know, the one thing I was sure of, after wearing many braces and being subjected to a lot of different physical therapies attempting to make my body work right, was that there was something wrong with me. I was not the same as everyone else. I was different.
From as far back as I can remember, fear and worry ran my life. Very early in my childhood, my anxiety physically manifested itself in painful stomachaches so severe that our family doctor had to put me on medication. I worried about my academic performance at school. I worried about being picked last on a team in gym. I worried about pleasing my friends and my teachers. I fretted and fussed about both little things and big things in my life, about things real and imagined. I was a people pleaser who lived with the fear of being rejected, unaccepted, and abandoned. Anxiety tortured me in the present and threatened to steal any joy I could have in the future.
Between the physical struggles I was trying to overcome, and an experience of being molested in junior high, my anxiety began manifesting itself in full-blown, crippling panic attacks. Throughout high school and into my adult life, I would have frequent bouts with both anxiety and depression that would eventually lead me to an in-patient hospitalization due to suicidal thoughts.
Needless to say, when I first came to Celebrate Recovery® at the invitation of a friend, I was a mess. I was falling apart both personally and professionally. I had communication problems, boundary issues, almost all my relationships were toxic, and my panic attacks were out of control.
When I showed up at my first Celebrate Recovery meeting, I told my friend that I would come, but I certainly wasn’t going to talk. I had been hurt and betrayed by so many people. I wasn’t about to let anyone break through the stubborn defenses I had built up from the wreckage of my past.
But God had a different plan. I wanted to leave as soon as I got there. But a friendly face that invited me to sit with her stopped me from leaving. Over the next weeks and months, I began to open up to her and to others. Celebrate Recovery provided a safe place for me to begin to unravel the pain and worry that were suffocating me.
Through Celebrate Recovery I realized I was powerless without God, as it states in Principle 1. But more importantly, I also realized that I did matter to him and that he had the power to help me recover. I finally began to realize I was valuable to God. I recommitted my life and will to Christ’s care and control. I started working my recovery and found a new peace I had never known before.
My life has changed as I now base my decisions on God’s truth. I do not let fear rule me anymore. I have released the lies in my head that for so long said that I was worthless and unlovable. I have replaced the lies with God’s truth that not only I am valuable, but also I am secure in my heavenly Father. He will never harm me or leave me, and he will always love me unconditionally.
I have stopped living in chaos and have been able to find and begin to use the tools of recovery. I have a healthy support system to aid me in my journey. I know now it’s okay to not be okay because I have learned that when I admit to safe people and to God that I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)!
The road to recovery has not been easy. God is still working on me. It is well worth the journey. I am grateful for the new peace that passes all understanding—peace that comes from a God who loves and values me just as I am. I now have a Forever Family I can trust and give back to.
Thanks for letting me share!