The first-person story and encouragement below are offered by Compassion President and CEO Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado.
Anxiety. It’s something that many of us have experienced in our lives — and perhaps especially over the past year. It’s something that children in poverty — and their caregivers, too — are forced to face every day. Anxiety is an inevitable part of the human experience. But God has a plan for us. A plan of peace. And I’d love to encourage you today by reflecting on that holy plan.
I’ll begin by sharing about my own journey with anxiety. For me, the season between 2007 and 2008 is when I discovered a level of anxiety that I’d never known before. Up until then, I certainly experienced anxiety and uncertainty around a big challenge, relationship stresses, performance evaluations, public speaking and much more. But this was different.
In 2007, I went through a traumatic experience while swimming with my son. Both of our lives were nearly taken when we got caught in a riptide. Days after the accident, as my body was dealing with the consequences of the physical exertion, I lost kidney function and nearly died again. But despite all that trauma, I mostly felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for allowing my son to go swimming in an area that I should have known was dangerous.
The anxiety that resulted from that incident haunted me for years. In the days and months immediately following that awful experience, I regularly woke up in the middle of the night — heart pounding, sweating and hyperventilating as my body relived the experience of feeling completely incapable and inadequate to save my son. While I was sleeping, my emotions would transport me back to that moment.
And amid that season of trying to work through the emotional and physical effects of the swimming accident, and helping my son process it as well, the economic meltdown of 2008 started. And that new crisis threatened the very existence of the organization I was leading at the time. We were looking at a massive drop in income that put the ministry, and the payroll for approximately 150 employees, in jeopardy. As president, I felt completely responsible. And once more, other people seemed to be paying for the decisions I made.
During this incredibly trying season, I sought medical help for the physical needs of my body, counseling for the emotional and mental needs of my mind, community support from my family and small group, and of course, I asked for divine intervention through it all. I’m so grateful for the way that God weaves multiple paths to bring us healing. And it was in this season that a particular passage of Scripture came alive to me in new ways — to minister to the needs of my soul and to help advance the slow but steady process of healing. I’d like to share that Scripture with you today.