Reaching Out to Others as We Cross Our Mountains
I sat in my Honda Pilot half way up the mountain pass on a snowy afternoon- locked in to the line of committed cars traveling back home from a weekend of skiing. I was alone. I was feeling deep unease within my belly. I tried reasoning with myself, “Kristin, just pull yourself together. There is nothing visibly wrong.” But I couldn't shake this sudden anxiety over my whole body.
Again, I tried coaching myself as I inched along the long winding mountain road, “Kristin, you can do this. Don't stop, you are almost to the top of the mountain, then you just coast down the other side.” “I am a strong, capable woman,” I thought to myself.
I wasn't getting any better. I started methodically asking myself if there was a place for me to turn around. I needed to get out of this line of traffic. I began to feel panic. I was sweating and starting to nervously shake. I tried changing the music I was listening to. I tried praying. I tried breathing in for five, holding for five, and releasing for five- it only made it worse.
I was having a full blown panic attack. Turning around the car after reaching the top of the mountain pass, I drove back down the mountain I just had climbed over the last hour. I felt defeated and weak. Feeling frustrated with myself, I drove back to the closest town and pulled over and wept. “What was wrong with me?” I interrogated myself. Why was I unable to simply drive over a mountain? I let the tears fall as I sat in my car alone, feeling very alone. I did not want to admit I was struggling with this anxiety attack. But I needed help. I reached for my phone, ashamed by my own dialogue in my head, and called my husband. He picked up and listened to me timidly share what was going on. In his kind tender voice, he said, “I'm so sorry, Babe. I see you and am with you.”
We then came up with a game plan to turn on my cell phone location service for him to see where I was during my next attempt over the mountain. The mere fact I would know that my husband knew where I was at in my journey meant courage in my bones. His “with-ness” got me to be able to breathe deeply. I was able to drive over that mountain that day because my husband showed me how Jesus cares for us. He was WITH me. He didn't have to necessarily fix it; but it gave me the courage to face the mountain and conquer my fear- even though I couldn't even name what I was afraid of.
I have learned endless metaphors from this experience like how to be kind to yourself and how Jesus can give us the strength to head over the mountain, but the main nugget of truth I have learned is reaching out for help is vulnerable, scary, and worth it. I gave my husband the opportunity to see me in a very real, honest place. I allowed connection in the deep places of my heart which felt heavy and unseen yet very loud.
What mountain are you climbing? Are you at the bottom looking up at a 15,000 foot climb or are you nearing the top and need someone to cheer you on? Wherever you are at, I pray you know Jesus' withness. Reach out for help if you struggle with anxiety or depression- there are others who will walk alongside you to encourage you like counselors or friends. It's so worth it in the end to risk vulnerability for connection.
To listen to my latest series on Wholistic Hearts podcast about Pursuing Connection, head here.