Anti-fear therapy

I was cleaning up my brushes and paint cans after some volunteers and I finished painting a large mural for the local Sunday school when Maxim passed me a note:

I was really encouraged to meet and work on this project with people like you, so full of faith and positiveness. Can you please remember to say a prayer for me, as I’m going through a very tough time in my life? Thank you.

I was rather surprised, as he didn’t appear to be someone with a lot of problems. He was a successful, well-mannered, friendly gentleman.

Some months later, Maxim invited me to his home for dinner. It was then that he confided how he had been battling for years with debilitating panic attacks that prevented him having a full social life. Lately, even just the fear of having an attack was enough to discourage him from going out. Therapy hadn’t seemed to help, and he was so ashamed of his condition that he’d begun making up excuses whenever he was invited to an event.

As he was sharing this, I felt I could relate, as I had also experienced a recurrent fear that brought on distress and worry, albeit milder than his.

For several years following a car accident, I had become very fearful of driving, particularly on busy highways. My heart would start beating faster and I’d break into a cold sweat, and eventually I started dreading getting into any kind of vehicle. It took a while to get over, so I understood what Maxim was going through.

Maxim told me more about his condition. At first, I just listened, then I told him about my own experience.

“How were you able to overcome this?” he asked eagerly.

I shared how trusting in Jesus, praying, and listening to uplifting music was the key. Things didn’t change for me instantly, and even now I occasionally have small bouts of the same fear, but these mostly serve to remind me of how far I’ve already come. Before the evening ended, we prayed together for him to learn to entrust his fears to Jesus.

The good news is that after a few months of following the same “therapy” as I had, Maxim was freed from his panic attacks. He has resumed his social life, started traveling again, and opened up his home and heart to other needy situations.