There is a phrase I used to recite when the emotions I had bottled up inside for so long threatened to bubble up to the top and spew out.
“No matter how bad I think I’ve had it, someone else has had it worse.”
I stuffed my pain down in order to acknowledge everyone else’s until one day my own pain attacked me from the inside out.
I was walking through the kitchen on my lunch break when a pain gripped my heart so tightly I thought my chest would explode. It hurt. No, it hurt beyond any description I can write accurately here. It physically hurt, like an explosion inside your chest would hurt.
That day started my three-year walk through severe anxiety, depression, and around-the-clock panic attacks. It also started my discovery that pain is pain, and stuffing pain away because someone else’s might be worse still won’t make it go away.
I have wanted to write a book about the root of that first panic attack for many years, but the truth is, I couldn’t find a precise purpose to it until about a year and a half ago.
I sat on a couch in England watching a young boy’s heart break about life and faith and friendships. Through a mound of tears, he asked me one tough question: “Why do bad things have to happen to good people?”
I was honest.