What a time it’s been! I was on The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi last week, on Easter Monday, the very day, thirteen years ago, that I entered full communion with the Catholic Church.
It was a good experience, but not one without anxieties. On the show I shared how God saved me from death, both physical death that I was contemplating via suicide and the spiritual death of despair and unbelief.
I haven’t watched the whole video–only got to see about fifteen minutes so far due to working “nights and weekends” at my work–but many friends have remarked to me that they thought it went really well and that they could hardly believe I was someone who had an anxiety disorder.
But I did have one, and leading up to the show I was quite anxious about it. Because I’m like an alcoholic who has been sober for ten years–the temptation to drink again is always sort of there in the background–just as for me the temptation to fear and panic is there. For the show I knew I would be in the limelight, something some people desire but people with disordered anxieties avoid at all costs. I didn’t know much about how the show would be done, either, up until the night before.
They told me that there would be little preparation because Marcus likes to have the interview be as spontaneous as possible–he’s hearing the story for the first time like the viewers are–and that they do one taping straight through. So no do-overs for mess-ups, basically.
All this made me a bit uneasy, but when battling rising anxieties I’ve learned a few things. The first is that I tell God I’m afraid of failing or being humiliated, but that I seek to do this thing for His glory, so that others might come to know him. Since that is my goal, and not my own self-promotion, I need not fear. For I can only do my best, and if God allows me to be humiliated, then that is for His glory. I’m a poor instrument and can’t be surprised that not every note that comes out of me sounds good.
I also learned to remind myself that I’m surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are on my side. They love me and don’t want me to fail. They are my spiritual family, and I can let my guard down. That was the case with the people at the Coming Home Network (who do The Journey Home). They are a great group of people, faithful and kind, and so welcoming. They made me feel at home.
Another thing I learned is that my children and wife are always proud of me. All my son and daughter knew was that I was flying on “a jet plane” to Ohio and would be back the next day after they were in bed. But that I would come in a give them a kiss when I got home. They love it when I can read to them, carry them on my back, do the “super fly” game, and get home from work so I can push them on the swing. My wife likewise loves me no matter whether I’m successful or a failure.
The anxiety disorder and depression that God rescued me from taught me to not be puffed up anymore. I was ground down to a fine consistency and realize I may very well be again one day. When I tell my wife such things she laughs and says “you’re the last person that would let success and recognition go to their head.” I hope so.
While Marcus Grodi normally doesn’t speak much beforehand with the person being interviewed, he and I ended up chatting an hour prior to the show about farming. He and I have a lot in common in this area and traded stories, books we’ve read, and ideas about how the rich Catholic agrarian life may be recovered and brought into the modern world. It was providential, and something I didn’t expect at all, not knowing that he was interested in this subject until I mentioned that we had bought a milk cow. It was one more small gift of our Lord that helped me to feel more at ease.
After thirteen years, God has substantially healed me of disordered anxieties, including depression and panic attacks. I no longer have to take any medicine for them, and they are usually manageable. Sometimes, when multiple severe life stresses occur, they can flare up again, but they have not been able to paralyze me as they once did.
To all my friends who messaged or called me telling me they thought the show went well, thank you. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to hear that, and how grateful to our Lord that I am for it. Blessed Easter season to you!