Roger was in a panic again. His chest was getting tight. It felt like his throat was closing. His vision was closing. This couldn’t happen again.
He leaned against a shelf of books in the library and tried to steady his breathing.
He had just read an email saying he had gotten a 52 on his last chemistry test and that he couldn’t pass without at least a 98 on his final.
“God, why did you make me struggle with anxiety?! You know I can’t handle what most people can!” He tried to steady his breathing still but it wasn’t getting better. “I can’t check into the clinic again. Mom can’t afford it.”
Roger found his way to a chair that was in an old phone booth, refurbished to be a tiny study desk. He had heard about a lot of people struggling with anxiety when starting college. But he never thought he’d be one of them. He had always wanted to be in a career where he could help people, even if he didn’t yet know in what that would be. But here, even at a Christian college, it appeared he was the needy one.
“God, I can’t struggle with this?! Just please take it away.”
He looked up and saw the words, “Are you feeling anxious? We can help. Stop by the counseling center for some help.”
He made it home that night, tried to relax but struggled to sleep and was still feeling panicked the next day. So skipped his first class and walked sheepishly into the counseling center.
“Um, I’m feeling some anxiety…” There was just one lady refilling the coffe pot in the office. She looked at him and a compassionate smile broke out across her face. Perfect timing. Why don’t you step into my office.”
Roger settled into a chair as she sat at her desk. “Can you please just give me something to make it go away?”
She looked at him calmly, again a smile coming out. “That is rarely how it works, uh, what’s your name?”
“That’s not the best question to ask, Roger. Instead of asking God to take away our struggles, I think he’d rather give us the tools to battle it. If I had never started having panic attacks in high school, I never would have become a school counselor, helping kids with panic attacks.”
As Roger got up to leave an hour later he had a prescription and a sheet of calming exercises. He looked back at the counselor and said, “Honestly, I still do want to be completely rid of this. But I am okay if God wants to just give me enough tools to do battle, and maybe use them to help others win battles against it.”
Are there some burdens which you’ve been asking God to take away? Might a better prayer be to let him give you the tools to do battle against it?
Raw Spoon, 8-17-21