When I got the call that told me that I had been accepted to participate in the World Race, I was completely shocked.
While I had spent the past couple of weeks trusting that God had planned what was best for my future, I had a nagging feeling from the day that I submitted my application that I would not get in.
The reason? I didn’t think that a girl with a severe anxiety disorder would be looked at as a viable option for spending nine months living out of a backpack and traveling the world.
Simply put, I believed that I was way too messed up.
When you meet Maya Kuipers, the first thing you notice is her confident smile. Even when you get to know her better, boldness just seems to come naturally to her. When you get beyond the “hellos” and learn her backstory, you come away having felt the grace of God. If you’ve faced anxiety or depression or know someone who has, Maya’s story comes as a breath of hope. Maya, her mom Shana and sister Kaylee are part of the North Pointe family.
Struggles, Breakdowns and Hope
It was around 2003 when I first began having trouble with anxiety.
After seeing a psychologist, I was given a diagnosis of a severe anxiety and panic disorder; a diagnosis that would lead to horrible struggles, an abundance of breakdowns, and most importantly, the close relationship with God that I have today.
This isn’t a story about how God miraculously cured me of my disorder, or how I now lead a wonderful life free of any anxieties or worries.
Quite frankly, life would be much easier if this was that kind of story, but let’s be real, when is life ever easy?
Plagued By Panic Attacks and Anxiety
In seventh grade, I had horrible panic attacks multiple times a day, could not leave the house without having a panic attack, and would completely freak out if my mom wasn’t with me.
The result was me missing school and barely leaving the house for months.
I was plagued by attacks that were triggered by the smallest of things, and at one point, considered ending my life in order to stop the torture that a chemical imbalance in my brain was putting me through.
Comfort in Chaos
My family tried everything – from regular visits to a therapist(shout out to my super rad therapist, Mary – you were da bomb), to slightly stranger methods like acupuncture. In regards to the acupuncture, I would just like to say that it is not a good idea to stick a bunch of needles into a 12 year old with severe anxiety and then leave her alone in a small room…but I digress.
After months of fruitless efforts, I discovered one thing that soothed my anxieties almost as soon as I started having a panic attack: prayer.
God did not suddenly cure my anxiety disorder, but He did provide a remarkable amount of comfort in the midst of so much chaos.
I stuck to fervently praying for God to relieve me of my anxieties, and slowly but surely, my panic attacks became less intense, and anxieties less frequently plagued my mind.
Anxiety was no longer ruling over my life like a cruel dictator.
I realized something that changed the way that I thought and lived: Jesus was truly my Saviour. Not just in the “He died on the cross that I may live” kind of way as I had previously thought, but in the fact that He pulled me to the surface when I was trapped at the bottom of the ocean.
A panic attack actually feels like being thrashed around beneath the surface of the ocean, so I’m speaking quite literally when I say that. In the middle of the darkest part of my life, God became my beacon of light.
To this day, saying a prayer when I feel a panic attack coming provides me with an incredible amount of relief that never ceases to amaze me.
I have heard it said countless times that fear and worry are sin, and that if one truly has faith in God, those two things cannot exist. I’m just going to be blunt and say that that is complete and utter garbage.
A strong faith in God is not synonymous with a complete absence of worry. In fact, it shows a greater faith when a person’s mind is filled with fear, yet they continue down the path that they are on by trusting in the Lord and His strength.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the power to press on even when fear consumes you.
Flaws and Weaknesses Into Something Great
With all of the anxiety that I struggle with – it seems that the last thing that I would want to do is go on a trip that will be intense, incredibly difficult, and full of the unknown, which is the most common trigger for my anxiety.
How is it that someone with GAD, panic disorder, and social anxiety could possibly participate in such a program?
For me, the answer is simple: God.
I have complete faith in His strength, and know that even when I am riddled with anxieties, He will be there to comfort me and lift me higher. I have seen that His plans for me are more amazing than anything that I could imagine, and that no matter what I believe my flaws are, He will use them for greatness.
Read more here.
APPLICATION: If you’ve been inspired by Maya’s story, please leave her a comment below. Thank you.
I write to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.
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