This. This is a selfish post. Indulge me.
Tonight, I had a panic attack.
I don't get them often-I've only had one since college (8 years ago), besides the one today-and they are never full-blown. They're more like episodes. I've never felt like I was dying or anything. I just suddenly feel trapped. I have trouble breathing. I can't calm down.
Did I mention I was at a work party? Yeah. I was. Go me. I knew I shouldn't have gone to this party, that I was not really in a "people mood," but I really wanted to be there and went anyway. It wasn't long at all before I realized the social interaction was too much. I went away from everyone, sat on the floor, and tried to calm down.
I tried to leave without being seen, but my boss caught me and I started crying on her and...yeah.
That's how I make a scene at a party.
After some inner struggle between sticking it out or being a coward and running away, I managed to convince my friends that I was ok to drive home, and... I was a coward and ran away.
I really was perfectly fine to drive home, and I think I needed it. It was about a half hour drive, so I did some business with myself.
Because the triggers for that panic "episode" didn't start at that party. The general loudness of a bunch of preschool teachers all packed together in an enclosed space definitely didn't help, neither did the spicy food, but that wasn't the cause. I knew it.
So on that lovely (seriously, the skies were glorious) , long drive home, I asked myself exactly what my deal was.
And here's exactly what my deal is.
I want to be seen. I want to be validated. I want to be known for who I really am and not just for who people think I am or who they think I should be.
Over the past couple days, earlier than that, really, I've just put myself out there, only to be slapped aside, and usually by some people with really great intentions. I've shared some things that are really crucial to the core of who Ruth Campbell is, and people, people who I expected to see me and love me for me--they pushed aside what I'd said and instead pressed their idea of me onto me.
I don't like being pressed.
They argued with me about what I was saying, and basically, without fully realizing it, were arguing with what God has done in me, with who I am and who He has made and is making me to be. I don't even know if what I just wrote made any sense at all, but the thing is, I am not seeking understanding half as much as I'm seeking respect and as much as I'm seeking validation, to know that it's okay that I'm me-even if other people don't get it.
And I know my sin here is a sin of idolatry because I'm seeking validation in someone or something besides God. Because I know He sees me. I know He made me stubborn and strange, awkward and awesome, weird and wonderful. That should be enough.
Because I see my preschoolers. And sometimes they act out to get my attention. And I'm like, "Kid, I love you. I am crazy about you. You don't have to get my attention. I see you. I love you. I love you for all the amazing things you are, even if I don't always like what you do. You don't have to fight to get me to see you."
I know that's God's response when I sin to get His attention. Because if I'm honest with myself, that's the reason I sin sometimes, to seek validation from Him.
But this idolatrous sin isn't like that. I'm not seeking His attention, but others. And that in itself isn't sinful. In fact, I firmly believe that sharing stuff about me, about my struggle, about who I am in light of God's grace, these are things God wants me to share. But when I'm met with rejection, even rejection disguised as encouragement, it still hurts. It hurts so much that I've been ignored because someone doesn't understand, and didn't respect me enough to realize I might just know a little bit about what I'm talking about. And that pain bleeds over into everything. It hurts so much that suddenly anyone who has a slight disagreement with me over something trivial is, in my mind, personally attacking me and trying to invalidate me. It hurts do much that I'm having panic "episodes" at what should be relaxing events. It hurts do much that I'm just bursting out at the seams, wanting to shout, "Please. Please see me!"
And I know that's so selfish. I also know that's where I am right now.
Satan has just been at me all year. Starting January 1, 2013, seriously, ALL YEAR. And I know he's not going to get me. He knows it, too, but he's a sore loser. And he's going to fight me with everything he has because he knows God is up to something. He doesn't like it.
That's not an excuse, because I'm still responsible for me, but that's what is going on.
And right now the biggest temptation is to run away, not like I did from the party. That was more of a retreat. Right now Satan wants me to run away and go into hiding and lick my wounds and pretend that I really don't have anything worthwhile to say. Because Satan knows I do have something to say, and that really burns his biscuits, and he's throwing opposition at it. The opposition is coming through these arguers, these would-be encouragers who can't truly encourage me because they haven't truly seen me.
And I'm really just so sure that God is going to use even all of this. He is the Redeemer, and my prayer is that this honesty on my part will help people understand or at least appreciate where I'm coming from, open some lines of communication, and help all of us grow together in godliness. Because I'm not running away.
I am sorry for my overreactions. I'm sorry for seeking validation in something other than God. I'm sorry I have trouble communicating and don't say what I need to say. But it will all come bursting out, sooner or later. Usually sooner. I can't keep things in. Never have been able to.
I'm not perfect. I have a lot of things I can work on, a lot of ways God can grow me.
But I won't apologize for being me. I'm odd. I like science fiction. I don't like Jane Austen. I don't like manicures, pedicures, massages, or having car doors opened for me (unless there are no automatic locks). I have a masculine sense of humor. I like flowers, but I don't like getting them. I like pink, but not as much as blue. I don't like expensive things. I bite my nails. I don't like chick flicks. I am often brutally honest. I am awkward and scared of being a grown up. I don't like watching team sports and can't play any. I have panic attacks at parties. I feel guilty when I think I'm inconveniencing someone. I talk to kids and forget to talk to their parents. I apologize too much. I struggle with both giving and receiving grace. And I have a stubborn streak like you wouldn't believe.
Because I'm me. I'm not who I should be all the time, but don't you dare argue with me about who I am. I don't need anyone but God to validate me, but right now if I don't speak the truth, I'm going to explode.
And let me tell you, I already done did that once tonight, and I don't want to do it again.
His grace is enough. His power is made perfect in my weakness. That's a good thing, people. I'm weak. I'm proud of it, panic "episodes" and all. Because the only boast I can personally claim is a boast in my weakness.
Don't you dare try to take that away.