Free from fear and anxiety

 

Before the age of 25, I had built up many fears and phobias based on several bad experiences that I had encountered throughout my life. I had tried many times to overcome them using medication, tried CBT, spoke to counsellors, I had visited hypnotists and went on many courses. I got nowhere and nothing changed. The only way that I could deal with them was avoidance so that’s what I did.

There comes a point though where you can only avoid something for so long before you have to confront it. A few months after I turned 26 this was the situation I found myself in. Another bad experience relating to a fear I had led me to the lowest point of my life. This time though I sunk into a deep depression. I tried to hide it from those around me but there’s only so much pretending you can do before they realise something is wrong. I went out and tried to resume some sort of normality but I soon found that I was overcome by feelings of anxiety and fear and I started to experience panic attacks for the first time in my life. I had never felt this way before and I wasn’t too sure what to do. I went home and this soon became my safe place. Sleeping became my comfort and it became a challenge just to walk to the end of the road.

After weeks off sick and worried that I may lose my home through lack of money, I somehow managed to get back to work as a carpenter working for a housing association. My manager recognised that there were issues and he adapted my way of working. A previous fear of heights rose to the surface so I stopped working in high rise flats and I would only work on areas close to my home. It became truly embarrassing for me. Avoidance, lies and excuses continued as to why I couldn’t do things and it created divisions in my family and we drifted apart. Life carried on like this for a long time.

It was Christmas 2017 when I reached my breaking point. I was suffering with a minor illness and I just left it until it got to the point where I had to seek help from a healthcare professional. After that I knew something had to change. I just wanted to get to the bottom of it all.

I went to the doctors explaining how I felt and he told me I would have to wait a few months just for initial consultation so I abandoned that idea.

I always thought that it had to be my body which was the issue and after researching anxiety etc online, a lot of information was pointing to a change of diet. So after spending a lot of time reading about food and drink I went on a vegetarian diet first which then led me onto a vegan diet. I was taking herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals to make up for what I was losing from not eating meat, fish and dairy. Other online research spoke about the benefits of yoga so I started to attend a local class. There was always meditation at the end of the session so I started to practice this at home. Before long I got into Buddhism and started visiting different Buddhist temples chanting and meditating and became interested in new age teachings and conspiracy theories. I paid a ‘so called celebrity guru’ £350 who told me he cures everything who then spent 3 hours teaching me about the ‘law of attraction’. Even though I felt no real changes I still continued.

Four months later those closest to me were telling me that I was losing my personality and I drifted further and further apart from them.

Above: My partner took this picture of me one evening concerned about my weight loss.

One Sunday I was meditating by a lake in a nature reserve when I just knew something wasn’t right. I felt weak, my mind felt empty, I had no motivation, I had no energy at all and I had lost a stone in weight due to the diets. I went home and that night I don’t think I could exactly describe what happened to me other than it was something spiritual in my sleep with my partner bearing witness to me leaping out of bed after it happened. I didn’t realise at the time but when you start to mess around with ‘occult’ practices like I had been with yoga, Buddhism, new age, meditation etc then there are spiritual consequences. I realised that what you see is not all there is and an unknown spiritual world became very real to me.

The following evening I sat down in my living room lost and confused with so many unanswered questions on my mind. Then I heard a message ‘READ THE BIBLE’ which I now know to be God speaking to me. I hadn’t heard something so clear in my life. The following day I borrowed a Bible and spent several weeks intensely reading it and one night I repented and asked Jesus to come into my life. I started to go to a local church and I got baptised. And that was it, straight away I started to see the changes in me and so did everyone around me. I kept praying and reading and as each day went on I knew that I had found the peace that I was longing for. I felt happiness inside me that I had never felt before.

The Bible tells us that upon salvation God gives us a new heart and the power of the Holy Spirit changed my heart from being sin focused to God focused and by submitting to Him I started to see the changes in me and so did everyone around me. God put His thoughts into my heart and that is one of the many reasons how I know He is real. The things that have happened in my life since are things that I had previously failed to change on my own.

Some things were just instantaneous. The anxiety, fear and panic attacks I had been experiencing just disappeared. I became much closer to my family who I’d neglected for so long and my partner and I finally booked our wedding after being engaged for so many years. I no longer found my security in how much money I had, instead it is now in God. Money suddenly stopped becoming an idol to me and I became less obsessed with money and wealth and for the first time in my life I started to give money away to the homeless and different charities. I overcame my fear of heights. I stopped the diets I was on with no particular preference to the food I now eat and I now maintain a healthy weight. My safe place is right here where the Holy Spirit dwells in me. Other things are a work in progress as I renew my mind by reading, studying, meditating and memorising God’s Word and believing who I am in Christ and not the lies that the world has led me to believe.

Above: The morning that I went up the Sky Garden in London, the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." First time I'd been up a building that high since i was 12 years old. Praise Jesus.

I thank God for His mercy and grace. I thank Him for forgiving me and for my salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. I give thanks to God for how He was directing my path to salvation, even in my lowest moments, even as I made one terrible choice after another in an attempt to find peace. Jesus Christ is a true Savior who is always with me and will never leave me. And as I submit to God on a daily basis, the Holy Spirit is transforming me so that I bring my thoughts, actions and attitudes in line with His.

I hope and pray that if there’s anyone out there who has been affected by the things that I have been in my life that you repent and seek, request and accept Jesus Christ into your life. From my own experience and through other testimonies you will read about, Jesus will transform your life if you submit to Him. He will break chains that are holding you back and you will experience true freedom in Him. God bless

Paul Jack

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