Not the kind you recall when faced with the pressures of buying and baking and cooking and cleaning and running around and spreading yourself thinner than poor man’s butter. I mean the “Other” kind. The panic attack that you didn’t see coming. The one that stems from some thought that you would never dream would snowball into a 30 minute panic for no good reason.
I don’t have panic attacks like I used to, thank God. But I still have them sometimes. My husband took the kids to park for a post Christmas dinner playtime. I was here alone and there it was. Staring me in the face like snarling bear.
These attacks always leave me feeling spent. Spent and lonely, and needy. Like I need to emotionally close with someone so I don’t feel so alone yet there is no one who can/will provide that type of closeness on a regular day let alone when I really need it. So I call the TBN prayer line. I do this nearly every time I have a panic attack. I feel that even though it is a stranger on the phone praying with me that just the voice of that person is soothing. The fact that they are there, even though they may rather not be. Tonight I am certain that was the case. I called and a fairly agitated woman was there. She did not have the usual gentle and friendly voice I usually hear. It was cold and sounded like the voice of a woman who likely had been forced to work on Christmas. Perhaps she was thinking of spending time with her family and there she was stuck praying for strangers. I tried ending the call when it became apparent that she was not happy to be answering the phone.
Normally they answer the phone with something like, “Thank you for calling TBN how may I pray for you today?” They ask your name, state, what channel you watch TBN on. Then they pray with what feels like sincerity and love.
Not. To. Day.
She sounded flat and impatient. “TBN…”
Me: “Ummmm…. is this the prayer line……?”
Her: (short and curt and a heavy sigh) “Yes. How can I help you.”
Me: “Well I’m calling for prayer….”
Her: (SIGH) OKAY. What for.
Me: (sensing her irritation and feeling like crap for bugging her while she was at work) “Oh… you know never mind. I think I’ll just hang up now.”
Her: “No! No, just tell me what ever it is.”
I tell her about the panic. she asks what caused it. I say I don’t know sometimes it just hits me. She insists there HAS to be a reason it doesn’t just happen for no reason. I am left stammering and stuttering trying to search for an explanation for my Christmas day panic that is now her problem. Then she laughed at me. And finally proceeded with about the most half hearted and irritated sounding prayer I have ever heard in all my days. As she prayed she said something about “what ever evil was touching me…. maybe witchcraft…” I nearly died. I really was so appalled at the prayer itself I could barely believe what I was hearing. At the end of the prayer there was no “Amen” or “Thank you Jesus” or anything. Just silence. It was like she decided she was done and saw no need to let me know. I remained silent for about 30 seconds and finally broke the quiet with an “Amen” of my own. She said,”Thank you for calling TBN and have a blessed evening.” I thanked her for working on Christmas and wished her a Merry Christmas and a blessed evening also. She hung up with nothing else.
I never have done this in history but when I got off the phone with the TBN prayer gal I prayed for her. Thoroughly.
It was very obvious she was in a state of agitation and I really felt like she must have been suffering in some way. Was it a headache? Was she sick? Tired? PMSing? Going through cancer? A divorce? Financial problems? It has to be something, And in addition to whatever it may be she is there hearing the fear, worry, concern etc.. of everyone on the other end of the phone. I can imagine it is difficult to keep a smiling voice at some point. It’s easy to forget that people who have the job of helping others, no matter how, are human also and maybe they need help sometimes. They are humans who also feel fear, anger, sadness, worry, concern, stress, anxiety, panic, confusion, hopelessness. Maybe she was feeling some combination of very human emotions and didn’t even realize how she came across. Maybe she realized afterward and felt really bad about it. And yeah. She should leave her baggage at the door when she comes to work, the fact that she didn’t or couldn’t speaks volumes. It must have been pretty bad that she not only brought it to work but allowed it to leak out into prayer with people.
Whatever it was or is I sincerely hope and pray for that woman. I don’t think she ever even gave me her name now that I think about it. So I don’t know her name but God certainly does. He also knows her need. I think I will continue lifting her up in prayer for a few days. I feel that she needs that. Peace and love be with her always.