I have been wrestling with how on earth I was going to be able to tell this story. I'm afraid it's going to take a lot of rambling, but if you're willing to follow along, I hope it will be worth it in the end.
All of my adult life I have struggled with fear in some form or another. Not a daily sort of thing, mind you, but enough to be able to say that fear was a big problem in my life. Fear of being attacked, fear of loss, fear of something horrific happening to those I love, etc etc etc. Pretty typical fears, I suppose, but with my active imagination, I was able to take them to new "heights," and sometimes even have them turn into full-blown panic attacks.
It is no surprise to me, then, that the times that God has been the closest -- and made that closeness known -- has been during those times when I have been struggling the most with these sorts of fears. When I have taken myself out on that ledge, and am pleading with Him in sheer terror to come and save me, He comes quickly and chases the fear away.
This last one, though, was pretty dramatic.
While I have made some mention of it here and there in various posts, I haven't explained exactly what I've been going through for the past 6 months. Ever since November I have been battling a gut-wrenching battle with fear like I've never experienced it before. It has been a daily "wake-up-in-the-morning-with-my-stomach-in-knots" sort of fear... the kind that you can feel crawling up the back of your neck and scalp.
I have been living in terror over the end times.
I can't turn anywhere, it seems, without being hit over the head time and time again that this is it... persecution is coming... and life as I've known it is basically gone.
I have managed to paint a most vivid picture for myself of the end, a Rwanda-Darfur-Holocaust sort of thing, with terrorists, biological warfare, and starvation thrown in there as well. The best I could hold out hope for was huddling out in the woods somewhere with my family, dressed in rags, eating acorns and roots and waiting for the nightmare to end.
Needless to say, this hasn't been the easiest 6 months for me.
I have choked back sobs while listening to my children talk about what they are going to do "when they grow up," because I felt their future was hopeless.
I have wandered about in a daze, totally stunned that everything I love is going to be ripped away from me.
I have panicked over our eternal souls when faced with persecution.
I have even asked God if it was worth it to scrapbook anything about Grace's life, since we wouldn't be around to reminesce.
Yeah, it's been that bad.
I really didn't want to post all this, because I know I sound like a complete basket case. I'm not. I have managed to function, to homeschool, to laugh and play with my children, to keep up with everything I am responsible for. This is just what I've been dealing with on the inside.
I took this to Confession during Lent, and the priest was sooooo wonderful. He looked at me so sweetly and asked, "Don't you think that the Lord will give you the grace that you need for whatever you will have to face in the future?" He also encouraged me to ask the Blessed Mother for her intercession.
Well, if you knew me, you would know that this is an uncomfortable thing to ask me to do. I won't go into details (although Suburban Cowgirl is laughing right now, I'm sure! *grin*), but this just makes me feel left out -- you know, all other Catholics have this amazing devotion to the Blessed Mother, and I wonder why I can't get my act together.
ALL OF THIS is background to get to the point of this whole story.
I have nursed Grace to sleep every night, and every night I have cried and begged God for mercy for my family.
I was simply tired of crying and being scared. Praying hadn't helped, reading the Bible hadn't helped, and saying the Rosary hadn't helped.
Remembering something I had read recently, where the saints encourage us to ask them to intercede for the graces we need (and that the graces don't come unless we ask for them), I started saying the Rosary again... but with some changes. As I held Grace and sobbed, I prayed:
"...Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for THIS sinner, and obtain for me the graces I need to function normally, now and at the hour of my death, Amen."
"...Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for THIS sinner, and obtain for me the graces I need to quit living in fear, now and at the hour of my death, Amen."
etc etc etc.
That was last Monday (May 4th).
Since then, I have been COMPLETELY, 100% panic-free.
I'm not kidding.
I went to bed feeling scared, and woke up feeling like the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
THAT, my friends, is a miracle.