Do you have a tendency to freak out?
Maybe you struggle with day to day fear. Or maybe you have an actual panic disorder. Either way, you’ll want to keep reading…
Last Sunday, Bridgeway Christian Church hosted a book launch celebration for pastor Lance Hahn’s new book, How to Live in Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out. (Yes, the title was kind of the best part.) The book was born out of Lance’s own lifelong struggle with panic attacks and the tension of leading a large church while nearly suffocating at times under his own weakness. In 60 minutes, Lance shot down all the judgments and assumptions about mental health conditions within the church:
“Isn’t it shameful to talk about this stuff? Nope. It doesn’t define me. It’s a part of me, but I didn’t ask for it. So it’s not my problem. It’s God’s. In my weakness, He is made strong.”
Before diving into the evening’s fun stuff, like chocolate cake and book signings, Lance delivered a powerful summary of his book’s message in an hour-long talk. He discussed the three underlying elements mental health problems, specifically anxiety disorders, as being: 1) root causes 2) catalysts and 3) situational triggers.
This is why the book is powerful. Lance addresses the subject of mental health from a physiological standpoint as well as a spiritual, which is surprisingly lacking within the church. In a very personable and fast-moving way, infused with moments of Lance’s own humor and “spiritual gift of sarcasm,” the author wades through his own personal story, the practical activities that have helped him most, and the very real battle going on within the spiritual realm. But he never claims you’ll get better. He only desires that, whatever the outcome of your struggle, you’ll find great hope between the pages.
Here are the 10 things Lance shared that have helped him personally in his life struggle:
- “We prep ahead of time, and hang on while it lasts.”
Discipline your thoughts
- “You are in charge, not your thoughts. Your mind does not get to go wherever it wants.”
Watch your inputs
- “Your brain can only select from the library its exposed to. When we’re feeling bold and strong, we feel invincible and stock our minds with anything.”
The power of rest
- “When you’re exhausted, you’re a mess. Just because you’re keeping up with the pace of life doesn’t mean it’s healthy.”
Humor is critical
- “What you’re able to laugh about, you’re able to release more easily. It’s not as big of a deal as it’s making itself out to be.”
Journaling gets it out of your head
- “Whatever’s jumbled inside your head, causing anxiety, is less scary when it’s written down.”
“Confession: I am running this church on sticky notes!” -Lance
- “Counseling always helps and almost always feels like it isn’t. It works; it just works in little incremental steps.”
- “You need to exercise so you don’t care. When you’re physically fatigued, it wipes out your energy–so you can’t freak out.”
- “Anything can become a trigger. And when you don’t eat healthy, you’re susceptible. If your blood sugar drops, you’re going to feel lightheaded and feel like something’s wrong. Guess what’s wrong? You’re feeling lightheaded!”
- “If it’s so severe that you can’t get it under control, take medication. If I break my leg and have to put it in a cast, don’t tell me I don’t have enough faith. The same goes for meds and anxiety. You do what is necessary for your body to function.”
What anyone who reads this book comes away with is this: there is no shame in what you’re feeling. You are not less of a person because you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, or any other mental issue. There may be chemical, situational, and spiritual things at work beneath, and nobody can sabotage your identity by placing you in a box that labels you as weak or immature. Seek Jesus for direction in your healing. He loves you with an everlasting love, no matter what you’re struggling with.
Summarizing the talk, Lance concluded with these thoughts:
“Here’s why you need to read scripture: it changes your mindset. It changes your worldview. Stop listening to the fear-saturated world. As long as our hands are lifted up in worship, our enemy is defeated. And the reason we have to be in community with friends so much is so that we can spread out the burden.”
Ultimately, what the book is about is surrender. It’s about desiring God’s healing, while accepting with open hands whatever the father allows, no matter how much it hurts.
And that’s hard.
But we have to choose to believe in the goodness of God if we’re ever going to survive.
“When you are scared and afraid, please do not doubt the goodness of God. Do not let your circumstances dictate your theology.”
Lance’s wife, Suzi, shared a valuable piece of advice in the Q&A that ended the night. She said, “Whatever we aren’t believing about God… those are the things we need to have written down for the bad times.” We have to hold fast to the truth that he is who he says he is, he’ll make everything beautiful in its time, and we are never alone. Remember that, friend.
You are not alone.
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How to Live in Fear brings balance, honesty, and encouragement to a very misunderstood and abused conversation about mental health, both outside the church and within. What a gift to have someone like Pastor Lance address it as a labor of love. You can find How to Live in Fear on Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and more.
Lance Hahn is the senior pastor of Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin, CA. To learn more about his ministry and his book, visit lancehahn.com and bridgewaychristian.org. To watch the full video of his book launch talk, “Thriving in the Midst of Fear,” click here.
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