Religion Magazine

Waves of Panic

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard

Waves 2

(Join Robynn as she sorts through circumstances that have jumbled her emotions and mixed up her metaphors!)

My passport application is being processed. It was rejected the first time because the photo had some flash glare on the forehead and some shady shadows lurking along behind my neck. That put us at least three weeks behind schedule. We frantically searched out a place in Kansas that successfully takes Canadian passport photos. That took a couple of days and involved an unexpected drive into Kansas City. I couriered the application with a new photo again to Passport Canada in Quebec.

Now I wait.

Once we receive the passport back we’ll need to quickly send it to the Indian Consulate to get a tourist visa. That takes 10-14 days too I imagine–although maybe longer since I’m a Canadian applying from the US.

We have tickets to fly out at the end of November.

To further complicate things, a couple of days into the waiting, we received notice that our credit limit on our credit card was over-extended. Of course there are tickets on there and a large order of Lowell’s recently published book. Lowell’s visa to India and the children’s visas are on there too.

I wrote a check to cover our credit card bill. Lowell called and had our credit extended.

And then it hit me: That’s the same card we charged the passport to. The panic wells up inside my stomach and up into my chest. When did the book charge go through? Would Passport Canada already have tried to charge the card for the passport? Or maybe not yet?

I want this trip to India so badly. It’s a trip home for me. It means more than a simple trip overseas (although are those ever simple travel trips for anyone?). To me this trip is an oasis. It’s a true holy-day. It’s childhood and memory. It’s revisiting deep friends, deep places. It’s revisiting me.

And yet, I am completely out of control in this situation. There’s nothing more I can do. I’ve done everything I can….including plead-praying and soliciting others to pray more steady prayers. All I can do now is wait.

In the waiting I do have these waves of peace. The dates and deadlines become fuzzy and I can just about see past the timeframe to Jesus. He stands there reassuringly. I can nearly hear him whisper that it will be okay. I breathe in and I breathe out. I am consoled.

Suddenly, without warning, another wave washes up on my face. Saltwater is in my eyes. I can no longer see Jesus….or anything at all, really. It’s blurry and teary and water stained. I’m blinded by fear. It wears me down pushing me into the surf, the mealy sand down below. I hurt. I’m disoriented. I’m confused. I’m walking visionless. But I manage to stand. Sort of. And I toddle back in toward the beach.

Straightaway another wave hits. But this one is calmer and quieter. Peace wets my toes and washes up my calves. My soul is once again ordered and stable, serene. Life is good. I can do this thing. I am at rest and confident. Jesus walks with me. I sigh with relief and contentment. My faith is restored. It will be okay. I will not be destroyed. The trip will happen.

I’m walking up the shore and unexpectedly I’m soaked from the rear with yet another huge wave. It washes the sand out from under my feet and I fall face first into the grit and grief. I didn’t see this one coming. It soaks me through. Once again I can’t see: water in my face, grief-grit in my eyes. I’m choking on salt-sobs. Panic-drenched I shiver with fear. I can’t swallow. I do the math. I count the days. There’s no way this can possibly work out.

Waves of peace; waves of faith; waves of panic; waves of fear.

I’m tossed and in turmoil.

I used to think being a person of faith meant that I would never doubt. Any flicker of doubt was met with disappointment. Did I not believe? However, now I think that having faith means experiencing a range of emotions, some even seemingly in conflict with true faith. Faith is shallow and meaningless if it cannot handle my queries and my questions. I need to be able to express my fear and my rage, my angst and my agonies to God in order for it to qualify as sincere believing faith. It’s going to be messy and untidy. Faith doesn’t organize well. You can’t alphabetize it and file it. It involves a type of continuum tight-rope-walk crossing. The continuum that lies between belief and doubt, strength and weakness, bravery and fear. Faith takes us out across that continuum. It walks us through those waves of fear, panic, peace and faith.

So I wait, with my faith in my throat, by the mail box. I keep looking and believing and hoping and wondering how this story will end. I brace myself for the waves. I squint my eyes and try to see Jesus in it with me…sometimes I think I catch glimpses of him; sometimes I don’t.

The apostle James wrote in a letter once, “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”  I am certain that my loyalties are not divided. I keep coming back to God. I know He really is my only option. Where else can I possibly go? But in the believing there are real waves of wet emotion. And it’s the emotions that toss me about, wave after wave.

As long as we come back to faith, come back to our Solid Ground, come back to Jesus our forays into fear and sinking sand don’t destroy us. They don’t weaken us. We come back and we find that reassurance and rest available in Jesus…who’s perfect love casts out our fear.

Until it resurfaces.

And then His love casts it out again.

And so the cycle goes on….in an honest real experience of faith. Meanwhile I’ll keep checking the mail!


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