Guest Blogger: Heather Frank, the Heather Frank blog
“Though the storms may come
And the winds may blow, I'll remain steadfast
And let my heart learn when You speak a word
It will come to pass
Great is Your faithfulness to me
Great is Your faithfulness to me
From the rising sun to the setting same
I will praise Your name
Great is Your faithfulness to me, oh
I put my faith in Jesus,
The anchor to the ground.
My hope and firm foundation
He’ll never let me down.”
If I’m honest, it hasn’t always been easy singing words that reflect this song.
I am the epitome of brokenness because for the past fifteen years I have danced with anxiety and depression. In my lowest of seasons, I found it nearly impossible to trust the unknown, all the while having a spirit of praise. I had let fear and doubt consume my mind, and as a result, I allowed darkness to flood my life.
The fear of death didn’t fully sweep over me until I was in my third month of driving independently. I had turned 16 that year and acquired my driver’s license, feeling as most teenagers do at that time: on top of the world. Daylight Savings had put the sunset in the early evening, and I found myself driving in the dark on the way to youth group. I wish I could tell you the details of what happened next, but to be honest, the next thing I remember was waking up on the ground next to my car surrounded by my parents and emergency medical workers. I had just been in a severe car accident.
At the time I was driving with a friend on our way to the church. It was the youth group’s Christmas party, and my friend forgot his gift for our youth pastor. Little did I know that one detour would create such a trauma for my body, that it would cross over well into my adult years.
I learned two elderly ladies were trying to cross the median opposite of where I was driving. As I made the turn onto this major road, the driver floored her vehicle hoping to cross the median unscathed. She was very wrong and suffered as well. In a not-so-perfect timing, her car t-boned my car right into my driver’s side, railing us straight into a tree on the side of the road. With the combination of her hit and my car-ramming head-on into a tree, the airbags deployed and all chaos had come to a screeching halt. She and her passenger were rushed to the hospital, and as for my passenger, he acted as quickly as he could saving me from the crashed vehicle.
Of course, this is all from what he had told me. He believed the car would catch fire and saw I was unconscious. Without hesitation, he got out and ran around to my side to pull me out. The emergency medical teams were called, as well as our parents, and just as quickly as the accident happened they all showed up. It was then I woke up wondering what day it was and why I was on the floor in the dark. I couldn’t recall anything.
The Body Keeps Score
There’s a book called, “The Body Keeps Score” by Bessel van der Kolk that talks about what our body goes through once we experience trauma. It is said the mind will suppress memories to protect the host, however, the body always remembers the trauma.
Although to this day I cannot recall what happened or how the accident felt causing pain to my body, my body produces a physical response to my suppressed memory from the trauma, even to this day. A trigger formed that night, and driving has always been an emotional hurdle for me ever since; a hurdle so great, it grew a perfect storm we know as “Anxiety”. Not only did I feel threatened when I would drive, I found fear creeping into areas of my life I didn’t know it could touch. For years I battled the heaviness of anxiety and tried desperately to break free.
I know I am not alone in this- from the testimony of others to reassure me, but more importantly through passages found in Scripture.
We find David in the book of Psalms singing praises to God and crying out in agony over the sorrows in the lowest of his seasons (Psalm 16, Psalm 56). God declared him as the “Man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22) and yet, he still found himself in the middle of the darkest of moments. He is just one example of many Godly people that walked paths that we are walking today. It is in these written testimonies it was found to be beneficial to add to Scripture, because we will face trials in life (John 16:33), and we need to know how to navigate them.
Just as those chosen and loved by God found themselves in hard valleys, we too find ourselves there. Naturally, we transition from one season to the next, and our emotions and headspace will reflect the same. What matters is how we respond to what comes next.
“This isn’t fair. Clearly, God has forsaken me. How can He allow this to happen? I am ill-equipped and cannot walk this season...it’s too hard.”
“I will put my faith in Jesus because He is good and faithful. His hand is in this situation, and I will trust that whatever outcome may be, He has my best interest at heart. He promises to equip my every need, so I will trust I can make it through because He will not forsake me.”
Which response brings life?
Which response is easier to give?
Maybe you’re like me and realize that the answers to those two questions are opposite.
Our Response Matters
It wasn’t until my body began to break down that I realized my response was the culprit. I chose to respond out of fear because I felt threatened, and in return, my body responded as such- protecting itself from the threat of danger. Those reactions to life’s stressors produced such anxiety that the physiological effects from it began crippling me. I found myself broken spiritually, physically, and mentally.
Instead of responding with an act of trust and praise, I responded with a fearful headspace, doubting everything in my life. I had let the enemy’s lies take hold of my mind, pushing me farther away from His voice found in Scripture.
I avoided driving as much as I could because I didn’t trust that I was safe. When I gave birth to my children, postpartum anxiety coupled with postpartum depression showed up every time. Real, physiological things were happening in my body, and that only put my “natural anxiety” into hyperdrive; only this time, it brought depression along with it.
The fear of my children dying became an emotional trigger for me. Hearing of other kids dying triggered my initial fear over the lives of my own. This emotional trigger of mine exposes a weak area of my life that I am unsatisfied with: the control of protecting my own children. Friend, ultimately, we are not in control. That kind of control is reserved for the Sovereign One, and He will never leave us if and when we walk through our own fire.
There’s someone out there that doesn’t want you to grasp this truth that we are never alone. He is the one that rejected God and despises the Imago Dei...us. As image-bearers we are highly valued and greatly loved. Satan wants nothing more than for us to reject this truth, and that dividing plan starts in our mind for him to work.
If the enemy can distract you, he can discourage you. As a response, we can isolate ourselves because of it.
I had let that distraction pull me away from God’s word, allowing lies to fill my headspace instead of His truth. My response was directed by a spirit of fear and not praise because I wasn’t filling it with Scripture. My response was isolation, and my family began suffering from it. What I thought was protecting myself and my family by isolating myself produced the opposite effect. We all were hurting.
Something’s Gotta Give
At the height of my anxiety and depression, the 2020 quarantine went into effect and the world shut down. Our life was put on pause. I didn’t know it then, but what was perceived as a frightening, unknown season for others became the healing ground for my mind. I went from feeling the heavy weight of stress and anxiety on my chest to a moment where everything stood still. At the start of quarantine, I had just finished a round of tests with my doctor: blood work, heart echo, and an order for a head CT. When the results came back good and clear, we knew the result was anxiety. Something had to change, and little did I know the pause we saw became a gift for my health.
I’ll never discredit the hardship and sorrow others faced during that time. The pain and loss were so real and felt deeply within our own home. We saw firsthand lives lost from the virus and the mental health sky-rocket from isolation. Depression became a new darkness for most. However, it was in that darkness that “I” had no other choice but to seek Him again. If I wanted to break free from the stronghold anxiety held over my mind, I needed to seek His peace and truly receive His grace. I had nothing else to lose because what became new to everyone else was an old foe of mine. I couldn’t let “one more thing” add to what was already crippling in my life. I desperately needed God.
It was in that season He found me in my brokenness because I chose to be seen. He is the God who sees us, always. However, do we choose to be seen? That’s when the healing starts to happen. He sees us, but we have the free will to choose for Him to heal.
Every whispered lie in that season was called and cast out by His truth found in Scripture. I needed a firm foundation so that I would respond in an act of praise again because this spirit of fear only brought death into my life.
Healing Brings Life
Friend, we need our weaknesses exposed so that He can heal us. Healing transforms our “acting out in fear” to standing firmly on the rock with the spirit of praise and trust in the Father.
We need to learn how to respond without fear because the valleys will always come. Seeking the Father and diving into Scripture creates that rock to stand on when the dark waves roll in. We must remain steadfast to His word.
I pray over you as your friend and ally that you come to a place of steadfast faith. As the waves of hardship roll in, I pray you are able to stand on the firm foundation you have created in Jesus to hold you steady with a confident heart. That in any valley you can sing these words,
“I put my faith in Jesus,
The anchor to the ground.
My hope and firm foundation
He’ll never let me down.”
Truth is, He is your fortress and protector. He will never leave you and because of that, you can put your faith in Him.
“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” - 1 John 5:18 (ESV)
“...I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
What are the areas in your life that need to be restored by the Father?
(trust issues, parenting, marriage, financial hardship, etc)
What situations do you find yourself responding to out of fear?
(fear of the unknown, hearing the death of a loved one/child, not making enough money, etc)
What could you surrender to the Father today that will lead you to respond with trust and praise?
(my children’s health, my health, finances, etc)
What are you doing today to fuel your relationship with the Father?
(adequate prayer time, daily devotional reading in Scripture, etc)
Heather is a small-town published photographer turned writer, passionately pursuing Jesus and the calling He has on her life. She is an advocate for all things ministry work and mental health wellness. Heather is a wife to a brilliant entrepreneur and mother to two littles trying to gracefully navigate the joys and struggles that come with both titles.