January 15, 2014: O Trust, Where Art Thou?

~by Louis Templeman

Yesterday, I experienced an all-day full blown panic attack. During the ordeal, while in the thrall of terror I felt the fears that tormented me were fully reasonable. This morning, in the aftermath of the ordeal, they do not seem as reasonable yet they still have a little bite. During the day as I struggled through work I would find myself forgetting to breath, forgetting what I was doing, walking somewhere for something I needed only to forget why I was wandering around.  I would stop and, once satisfied no one was watching, lean into the wall with my forehead  and pray something stupid like, “O God, where are you? What’s going on? What am I going to do? Why does it seem like you are so far away? Or, so uncaring?’

The Lord was with me in that point of misery and he spoke to me. The Lord said, “Don’t you trust me?” I answered honestly, “No.” Hearing God’s voice in my heart and being convinced of his presence should have brought me peace. But, it did not.

My father died last Monday. Already, I miss him dearly. I really loved him. Yet, somehow, his promises to me were always teases, like the game we play with children, holding out a treat only to jerk it away as the child reaches for it. So, I learned and internalized the sad awareness that many promises are only set-ups for anguish and disappointment. I do not hold that against my Dad, for he got the template for making a pretzel out of my soul from his own father. It seems to be a spiritual heirloom; or even a curse in my family that has been handed down for generations. Or, perhaps, it is merely the human condition.

So, I told the Lord, “No, I don’t trust you. I love you. I know you are trustworthy. But, I am incapable of trust. Please give me peace and the ability to trust.” Then I recalled that I had taken Holy Eucharist the day before, so from that experience I prayed, “Lord, you are in me. You have entered me by your Holy Spirit and even by the body and blood of your holy sacrament.  So from within please trust through me. Trust for me. I am so bankrupt that I cannot even trust. I am in such a panic, in such a maelstrom of fear that I cannot even pray except for these ridiculous words of admitted mistrust. Please help me.”

A precious silence enveloped me. I did not receive deliverance from the terror, but I did have this one thought which somehow gave me strength. What is the worse that could happen to me? Get sick? Die? Fall off a ladder? Have an accident? Go broke? Face another grief? Yes, any number of evil things could happen to me, but would I quit serving God? The answer is, of course, No. Even though I have such little faith that I cannot trust God through a panic attack I know I will never give up my love for him, or the practice of my religious faith.

I don’t understand it. It is simply all I had to hold on to. It was rock solid knowing that I will never let go of my Jesus. I will always embrace his Holy Spirit as my love and my closest companion. From Paul’s words (Phil. 1:9 and Eph. 3:19) I can now confess:

“And this I pray, that my love abounds yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; and I know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, and I am filled with all the fullness of God.”

So, I guess I did trust him a bit more than I realized. It is just that I felt so forsaken; nevertheless I could not forsake him. Somehow I knew, but could not have verbalized during the deluge of panic, that he would eventually, in his time, meet with me and comfort me. I wound up having a good night’s sleep.

Today, I do trust in God. I guess I did yesterday, too. But, it took waking up to see it.

~Louis Templeman

Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D.

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