The second day of Fourth Grade was one of the worst days of my very young life. It was the day I walked into school, for the first time, all by myself.
From Kindergarten through the first day of Fourth Grade, my dad had walked me to class – with my hand resting securely in his.
After he dropped me off that first day of class, my teacher told me, loud enough for the class to hear,
that I was too old to be holding my dad’s hand on the way to class, and that beginning tomorrow it was time to walk myself to school.
Tears stung my eyes as I went to my seat and tried to keep them from spilling over. The next day, I told my dad I was old enough to walk myself in, thank you, and sadly made the walk to Fourth Grade all alone.
My teacher put her hand on my shoulder – which the daggers in my eyes warned her never to do again – and said “I’m proud of you.”
I smirked at her, cursing her in my head, and sat down, waiting until the end of the day when I could go home to safety.
The reason I was walked to class every day was because I was, even as a kid, very anxious. This was because of some circumstances that caused me to worry a great deal about losing the people I love the most – a pervasive fear that made me feel unsafe in the world and insecure in my own self.
I had a nervous tick – incessant blinking that drove my teachers crazy and provided many opportunities for ridicule at their and my classmates’ hands.
As a person who is dealing with panic disorder and PTSD, when my life gets overwhelming, stress and worry and fear seem to disproportionately engulf me and create a big mess.
Weeks of appetite loss, insomnia and debilitating panic attacks can be triggered by the smallest stresses that add up, seemingly out of nowhere and create a beast: a monster of insecurity that demands survival.
Its demands are excessive need for affirmation, suspiciousness, constant fears of being fired or broken up with or abandoned in someway on a case-by-case basis.
My greatest challenge in ministry has been helping people see the love of God and the hand of God at work in their lives, having been one who had to really fight to accept that reality for herself.
My greatest joy in ministry is that the love of God is enough for everyone, even for me and even enough to make up for all of those walks down the hall all by myself on the way to Fourth Grade.
I’m trying to do my best on this journey of self-love and self discovery. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun.
It is however,, always rewarding to look back and see how far I’ve come and how far God has brought me; to know even through the tears, the shaking, the anxious butterflies, that God is still with me and will always, always bring me through.