You walk into that new classroom auditorium and before you know it your heart is racing so fast you can hardly choose a chair. Where do I sit? Is there someone sitting there? Will this person mind? You start looking around and before you know it what was supposed to be ten, turns into 100 faces looking at you and wondering who you are. Before you know it you want to leave the class as fast as you can, drop it, and just get out before anyone notices you.
You race home and you start thinking I gotta get out of this, this is not working, I need to take a semester off, I cannot go back. Did I ever pray before I walked into that new environment? I was a blessed individual. I was born in a privileged family; two teachers, hard workers and spirituality strong. I was encouraged to get involved, play all the sports you can, sing out loud and have fun and don’t forget to say your prayers. I grew up where saying our prayers before every meal was normal, speaking about God was a daily conversation, praying and going to church was the norm. I asked myself, you step into situations that are and uncomfortably hard and what do you do? Freak out. Well I didn’t always freak out, actually I was always pretty level headed.
After all I always had somewhere to go and a place I could relax and calm down if I was ever upset. I went into high school as a grade 8 feeling pretty comfortable since both my parents taught there and I guess you could say I was a gym rat! I walked in knowing every room, almost every teacher by their first name and being involved in everything before I even could write down my name on the sign up sheet. Is that not every grade 8 or 9’s dream? There wasn’t much anxiety in grade 8 but university was a different story. At University I was swallowed up by hundreds of people I did not know, a massive campus and new professors that intimidated me without even knowing they did, it was an everyday anxiety internal outburst and one that made me feel like I was not in control of my situation.
At 16 years old I often forgot when and how to pray. I prayed and talked about God because my mom made us pray. Did I believe he could help me? Probably not, no. My mom took on starting and leading a group of students from our high school into mission work, another blessing in my life. I had my safe zone that carried me all over the world; different countries, provinces and continents. My mom did everything for and with me. A best friend. She prayed for me, so I thought and now I know. Traveling you got to experience the poor, the less fortunate, appreciate different religions and cultures and search for hope and strength. When on Mission Trips I felt like I was on cloud nine, a time away from reality. You appreciate every little thing that happens during that time away. I felt truly blessed to have that experience but I sure didn’t feel blessed when I got home and back to my life, my reality. I went to church every Sunday with my family. What 16 year old got up every Sunday morning to go to church? Me. I never complained. I did and I'm now actually really thankful that I did. When I experienced depression, I try to kill myself and I’d say “I hate my life” a lot. I hid out of view as much as I could and our basement media room became my sanctuary where I cried and I looked down on myself. I did spend time praying and asking God to help me and get me through this part of my life.
Three years later at 19 years old, I believe God saved me. Why do I believe this from someone and something that many do not believe exists, that is not human, that exists in a place Christians call, “heaven”. I met a friend that picked up the pieces in my life, I felt relief in going to church, praying calmed me down and looking at the big picture, believing in God gave me strength and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Something stopped me from taking that one last pill, something got me through those horrifying bad days, someone got me through those times when I was alone and hopeless. For so many years I felt lost and ashamed. I have always been strong, worthy, and a child of God but I just never realized it fully and I am proud to say that I believe God really did and still does walk right beside me, teaching and molding my life..
So I walk into that auditorium and a thousand faces look back to see who walked in. My face goes red and my stomach flips upside down. I feel my body burning up and sweat starts to drip. I say a prayer and look for ways to do something to make myself feel comfortable. I say a prayer although nothing formal. I just talk to him. I know he hears me. I hope we all have something or someone to believe in and that we all have someone we feel safe around. My mom prays for us constantly, that’s a given, that's what mothers do. But the fact that I’ve grown into my faith as an adult makes me feel safe, proud and full of hope. I was born with a plan and he put me on this earth to live with challenges, strength and love.
How did it take me up to now in life to feel comfortable loving myself and loving what I believe in? I could script and tell you about all sorts of inspiring quotes from the bible. But it’s talking with others and understanding my individuality that saved me. My depression is something that I am battling and will conquer. My anxiety is a new challenge but one I know I can beat. I was born to fight those. God challenged me to fight them. Why are you on this earth? Who blesses you everyday with the opportunity to live another day? Who saved you from quitting and leaving that class? Who made you sit down in the auditorium class?
This is me, Cassidy. Every dreaded Monday morning at 8:20 am I walk into an education auditorium and my anxiety peaks and I experience an overcoming feeling that taunts me to run and leave the situation and never go back. But what do I do now, I pray. I take two deep breaths in, I sign my name, I walk down the right side aisle, I sit two rows from the front and first chair in. I sit down and and I ask God to calm me down and to help me get through that hour and 15 minutes. Before the lecture starts I find myself some comfort and get ready for my notes. Did God actually save me? Yes he did with his grace and strength because I know God put me on this earth for a purpose, for a reason and for great things and to be a light for other people.
Anxiety doesn’t kill. I can fight it and you can fight it and with faith anything is possible. We all have a journey here to cross through this life and make the best of our situation with all of its awesomeness and too with all the stumbles and falls. What works for me is to walk into that classroom, smile, breath and talk to him. Find what works for you. He took away my fear and my option of pills, he gave me strength through prayer, he took away my doubt and took away that past ghost that I am not good enough. I will not allow myself to walk out and say I can’t do it. I can do it, from now on I’ll take two deep breaths in, I’ll relax and find comfort and I’ll ask him to calm me and get me through. I want my University degree and I deserve this degree. He has a plan for me.
Your place is where you want to be. Fight for what you want and find where faith fits into battling whatever challenges life offers you. This is me, Cassidy and my faith in God really did save the fear in me.