When we hear about someone’s heart racing and palms sweating, we automatically think about romance.
After all, we’re romance people. We read and/or write Christian romance, so our minds jump to certain conclusions. It’s what we do. Let’s face it – it’s part of our charm.
I’ve had a few life changes in recent months, though, that have caused a few racing hearts and sweaty palms that had nothing to do with romance. I’m generally a pretty chill person. I don’t get ruffled easily, and I don’t tend to worry about things. I’m all about trusting God and knowing He’s in control. Even when things seem to go haywire in life, God’s still at work in the situation, and I’m happy to rest in that knowledge.
I’m so chill in fact, that (this is me laughing at myself – not bragging – honest!) I went through six weeks of anxiety attacks before I realized that I was having anxiety attacks. I sort of knew it was stress-related, but I completely failed to connect the dots enough to realize what was happening. Then I had a bad attack.
I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, heart racing so fast I couldn’t catch my breath. My arms were dead weight, and I could barely move my legs. Sweat was pouring off of me in rivers. I managed to stumble out of bed somehow and make my way into the living room where my husband sat. (He works graveyard, so he hadn’t gone to bed yet.) I had to shuffle my feet the whole way out there because I couldn’t pick them up properly.
It was awful.
I scared the daylights out of my husband, too.
The attack was so bad that my chest hurt for days afterward. Whatever anxiety does, it overworked all the muscles in my chest to the point that they were exhausted. Every time I took a deep breath, the muscles in my chest ached. Every time I went outside and breathed in cold air, the muscles ached. That ongoing pain made me feel like I was always on the verge of another attack, and trust me – that one attack was bad enough that I didn’t want to repeat it.
Of course, then I had to stop and ask myself, “What am I so upset about that I’m having anxiety?” Because, again, like I said, I’m generally a pretty chill person. I can be a little excitable – but usually about happy things. I don’t tend to focus on the negative. I prefer joy, and so that’s a choice I make on an almost daily basis. James 1:2 is one of my favorite verses. Consider it all joy…
In any event, I had a nice moment of introspection where I took a look at what was going on in my life and how it was affecting me. (And how I might have been a *teeny, tiny bit* in denial about how deeply it was affecting me.)
And because this is the world in which I live, I started to think about some of the subjects that are kind of taboo in Christian fiction. We don’t really talk about depression, for example. If we do, it’s usually in relation to a heroic military person suffering from PTSD. We don’t often see children born with developmental disabilities/differences in Christian romance. We don’t see a lot of anxiety, either.
In my case, I wasn’t fully trusting in God’s sovereignty in an area of my life. I was trying to control something that was way better off in God’s hands than my own, and, ultimately, that led to anxiety.
In some ways, that’s the very reason we don’t see a lot of anxiety in Christian romance. Anxiety is often viewed as a failing in the individual, a character flaw, a lack of trust, or – worse – a lack of faith. Therefore, it’s a taboo subject in Christian fiction. While I take ownership of the cause of my own anxiety, however, I fully recognize that not everyone has the same experience. Anxiety comes from a lot of places, and not all of them are self-inflicted or a reflection of the person’s relationship with God.
That’s my two cents, anyway.
I would love to hear what you have to say about taboo subjects in Christian romance. Are there any others that you can think of that I didn’t name? Things we deal with in everyday life but that somehow don’t make it into the pages of our fiction?
In the meantime, I wish you all a blessed and beautiful – and anxiety-free – day!