I wrote this one day, two years ago:
Some days, I feel like I'm being held captive. Today was one of those days. Let me explain.
Hi, I'm that voice in the back of your head that tells you there's someone that watches you when you sleep.
When you were younger, I told you there was something big and scary that lived under your bed or in your closet.
Yup, I'm that same voice that tells you not to look in the mirror in the middle of the night, and to “go” to the bathroom when you need to or you'll increase your chances of getting a UTI.
Sometimes I warn you of legitimate things... like taking precautions when driving in stormy weather, being aware of your surroundings when you're out late at night, or taking extra time to wash your hands carefully to avoid getting sick.
Other times I like to embellish. You know, over-the-top stuff.
Like telling you to prepare for a crash every time you hear an airplane flying overhead.
Or that there's probably a bomb on your subway train and you better have told your friends and family that you love them while you had the chance.
A mentally ill gunman is going to walk into your workplace and start randomly shooting, so you had better plan a good hiding place before it's too late.
That wind's getting pretty strong — are you prepared for a hurricane?
I can scale it down too.
It's too late — that woman at the grocery store didn't cover her mouth when she coughed and you're definitely going to get sick.
Tonight's the night — someone's definitely breaking into your house tonight.
You asked him to text you once he gets home and he should have been home by now — he probably got into a car accident.
The house is too quiet but your mom should be home — someone probably slashed her throat and left her in the bathroom in a pool of her blood.
Yeah. Death is my specialty.
Surprisingly, little things that don't really matter really get to you.
You don't work enough hours — your coworkers probably think you're lazy.
You study for hours at a time but your grades don't show it — you probably won't pass the class.
They don't like you because you're just not cool enough.
They are definitely talking behind your back.
They probably don't consider you as close a friend as you do them.
Will you be able to pay your bills this month?
See what I mean? Minuscule.
And yet, I crowd your mind with the most elaborate to the simplest worries — and it all works beautifully together!
Your heart beats faster, you start to get fidgety, you have trouble breathing — paralysis.
You're paralyzed by your fear of your imagination.
How can you trust yourself?
How can you trust the voices in your head? You really think that I'm worth trusting?
You have no control of what I tell you, and clearly can't shut me out either.
So what's going to help you?
I hold you captive. I'm you.
I probably wrote this on a lunch break at work or on the train during my commute to school. Or maybe some other time. Either way, it would have been a good chunk of time being enveloped in these suffocating emotions.
I started writing this two years ago and left it as a draft in my phone. It's strange. I don't remember typing this down at all, yet these emotions and feelings of paralysis are all so very familiar.
After the 2015 Paris bomb attacks, I didn't want to go anywhere. I vowed to only take the underground subway if absolutely necessary; otherwise, I'd stay above ground where it was (supposed to be) "safer". I'd have trouble sleeping. I didn't want to get on public transportation. Even though it meant taking a detour, I preferred to pay more for the "fancier" above-ground transit system, just because it felt slightly safer.
Today, with a pandemic raging, it seems like the safest place to stay is at home in bed, doors shut, lights off.
But the reality is that no one place is safer than another. Danger, disease outbreaks, terrorism, ignorance, mindlessness — all these terrible things are uncontrollable.
Evil is rampant.
Sin is ever-present.
The enemy is ever tempting.
Death is real.
We know our only escape is Christ,
and yet, our foolish selves will still choose to try to find other escape routes.
The only solution is Christ — he's done all that needs to be done to abolish evil and remove darkness. But, knowing all we do about him, we still sometimes live as if he isn't there.
Without him, we can never be free enough. We will never be strong enough. Fear will always paralyze us.
But if we cling to him,
we will slowly discover that we need fear no evil for our God is with us (Psalm 23:4).
So often, we choose evil. We choose captivity and paralysis over freedom. In some ways, it's just easier to stick with bad habits rather than to seek change.
Freedom requires courage to choose Truth over feelings — to trade our sorrow for joy, trade our darkness for his light, and exchange our sinfulness for his righteousness.
We can't imagine what this real freedom looks like. We just know that we can do nothing to help ourselves.
Frankly, often, we'd rather be able to take the credit and say, "I got myself out of this mess. I freed myself. Me, me, me."
Reality is this: "I chose sin. Sin and fear paralyze me. This world scares me. I can't save myself and I need a Saviour."
The problem is that we don't like admitting when we're at fault; we don't want to call ourselves foolish; and no one likes admitting they need rescuing.
In many ways, paralysis is a choice, and freedom can be one, too.
Have you ever struggled with terrifying thoughts that crowd your mind? Does talking about it help? It helps me.