Overcoming Agoraphobia

Overcoming Agoraphobia

A faithful God in my faithlessness

By Janina Rivera

It’s happening again. Will I ever change?

There was a time when I said these words to myself. I was struggling with fear, and it was the debilitating kind. I just wanted to stay home and stay put. I hated eating out because I was afraid. I hated stepping into the mall because I’d start to hyperventilate and lose control. I hated the movie houses because I’d end up all nervous and sweaty. It was an unnatural fear. I didn’t know anyone who would understand. I had struggled for five years with it, was free from it quite briefly, and then despaired when it came back with a new ferocity another three years.

I remember crying out to God and begging Him to make me normal.

I wanted to know if I would ever enjoy leaving the house. I wondered if I would ever breathe normally in malls, or enjoy eating a meal at a restaurant.

Will I ever change? I remember telling myself No. I will be like this till I die.Agoraphobia bubble 1

It’s a good thing that God didn’t think so. The God of the universe knew that I, faithless for permanent change and desperate at the end of my rope, needed Him to create a change. I simply didn’t know how to do it. I needed a miracle.

And I got one.

Jesus made it clear to me that He was victorious over my fears. I was in a counseling group one afternoon. I prayed to Jesus, asking Him to speak to me about my fears. A picture entered my mind. It wasn’t a mystifying, unearthly picture. No, it was a simple picture, but it held so much meaning. Jesus was there, standing on barren ground. Lord, where is my fear? I asked, searching the picture. And He whispered to my heart: It is buried. I am standing on it. A treasure chest with sparkling jewels appeared on the side, and a sword entered the picture. He again whispered: I am ending this chapter of your life.

My life changed after I took His words to heart. Faith rose in me. In fact, after that day, I was never the same. I embraced Isaiah 26:3 which says, “Thou [God] wilt keep him in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (KJV)

The unnatural fear left me. Slowly, the old joy I had of eating out, going to the mall, and watching movies returned. I started having a zest for life. My curiosity for adventure replaced my once-terrified disposition.

Nowadays, I travel a lot. I like eating new things in various restaurants. I go to the mall without thinking of breathing unnaturally or of losing control. I love the movie house. In fact, if you never knew this part of my life, you’d find it hard to imagine that once upon a time, I struggled with Agoraphobia. It’s been almost seven years since I had a panic attack. I have never had one again.

Agoraphobia bubble 2Perhaps you are at a stage where you think you can never change—whether it is a sin you’re trying to kick out or a circumstance you find yourself in, which you can’t control. Perhaps you think you will be the way you are until the day you die. That is a lie. Don’t believe it. Jesus has incredible plans for you. And He can change you.

Start with humbly asking Him to change you. You can say this prayer:

Lord, I need your help. I can’t change on my own. Please step into my situation. Save me from myself. I give to you every bit of my life—even the ugly bits. Please forgive me of my sins. Wash me clean. Teach me what it means to follow You. Be Lord of my life. Be my all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder where there is fear of open spaces or of being in crowded, public places like markets. It is fear of leaving a safe place.

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