I’m Michele. I grew up in Virginia Beach, where I met my husband Kyle of 9 years, and now live in Southeastern North Carolina. (I’ve decided I can’t be far from the beach :)) We have the sweetest, cutest “puppy” (she’s 7) Zoey and 6 chickens (5 hens and a feisty rooster). This past summer my only sibling, my brother Mark, moved in with us and it’s been an awesome adventure! I’m a massage therapist of 7 years, 5 of which I’ve worked from home (and LOVE it!!). I’m also the women’s leader at our church. I enjoy fitness and nutrition, being outside (especially the beach!), crafting, journaling/writing, blogging at theEvenif.com, and a good book that makes time slip by unnoticed.
Since the age of 5, I’ve battled the intense fear of vomit (emetophobia). I suffered through school in constant fear of others (or myself) *possibly* throwing up (even worse if it actually happened), which caused bouts of anxiety attacks which later led to panic attacks. This fear seems to always be present, whispering to me from the back of my mind, but there are seasons when it grabs the microphone and causes me to cower. Those are the seasons that I have panic attacks almost daily, causing me to not only be drained mentally, but also physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Seeing myself now at 29, with no other reference point, I feel like I have too far to go, that this fear is still here, it should be gone by now, and I’ll never make it to the finish line. But when I look at where I was, my eyes flood with tears seeing the glory that is our God. His mighty hand has held me and protected me all these years – He is redeeming me from the pit. I never want to experience the fear and anxiety that I do, but it amazes me the nearness I feel to God in the midst of it. In the peak of an attack His still, small voice whispers peace to me – for even His whisper is louder than the shouts of the enemy! He’s given me family and friends that love and encourage me, a husband that loves me so well and supports me when I can’t support myself, encourages me when I see no hope, and speaks truth to me and over me when all I hear and see are lies. So, even though I may have a ways to go, I’m not where I was and I praise God, giving Him all the glory, for this struggle is my refining fire.
God’s strength in the midst of this struggle shows me how much He loves me. By Him showing up everytime I struggle, everytime I’m falling to the lie of the enemy, shows me how devoted He is to me and to giving me life in Him. For the longest time I was caught up in the shame, guilt, and fear of it all; I was afraid of being punished by God for not trusting Him enough. I felt silly and childish (especially as an adult) for being so gripped by the fear of something so natural. (I mean there are greater things to be so afraid of…) But this attitude led me to worship God out of fear of punishment and as a way to appease Him. I thought that if I read my Bible enough, went to church every chance I got, prayed, helped others, followed the rules, then God would be happy with my efforts and I’d be forever free from this struggle. But God broke through all that. He’s shown me (is showing me) that though this anxiety and fear is not how He intends for me to live, HE is the one that will (that HAS, in Jesus name!) free me – NOT my works. So now I do all those things I did before to gain His approval, except now it is in response to His love, not to earn it. For I already have it.
For the past three years I’ve chosen a word and verse to cling to that will redirect my attention to God and what He’s doing in me. The first year I chose the word GRACE and this verse
2 Corinthians 12:9 — But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
So, though my word and verse has changed each subsequent year, I’ve deemed grace and 2 Corinthians 12:9 my life word and verse. It is the verse I cling to when I’m weak, it gives me the encouragement I need to know that even though I’m falling He is strong and being glorified in it all because I am clinging to Him.
Follow our blog over the next few weeks to hear from others who are BEing COURAGEOUS by living the life that God has called them to. And, if you have a courageous story to tell, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!!