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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: Choosing Sanity
By Joy Bach


My world had shattered. In the space of six months, my sister, who had been like a mother to me, had died suddenly at the age of 42. My husband had unexpectedly left…..permanently. And his father, the only dad I had ever had, had informed me on the telephone that they never wanted to see or hear from me and the children again. My mother’s comforting words were, “What did you do to him, to make him leave?”


I had no job, no skills, no friends, no money…….and the list went on. I was terrified. My husband had been in total control of everything. Now I was in charge. One choice I pondered was to let go of my mind and just let them lock me away where someone else would take care of me. That was the easy way out.

But what would happen to my children? Tough as it was, I would have to choose sanity.

Having been raised in the church, I knew God was there somewhere. I wasn’t sure He cared about my situation. Night after night, I lay awake, terrified of the future and getting zero sleep.

I knew my body could not continue to function this way. If I continued handling my circumstances with panic, the girls would soon have neither father nor mother. So I searched for a way out of this torment.

One night as I lay wide-eyed, God gently began to speak. When I tried to take over the conversation, I felt tenderly reproached……and knew it was my turn to listen. But I had SO much to say.

Gradually my spirit calmed. Slowly new realizations and thoughts began to pop into my mind.

I repeatedly asked of God. “How do I handle this overwhelming situation? How do I keep from panicking and being afraid?”

Through the dark night, God patiently explained letting go…..relinquishment. What was accomplished by worrying all night? Did it make anything better? What was it doing to my relationship with my girls?

The more He talked, the more I wanted to listen….agreeing with everything He said. But how could I change it?

As the hours passed, my mind turned to scriptures memorized long ago…..words very familiar to me…..yet suddenly acquiring a whole new meaning.

One scripture in particular seemed to stand out. God had promised He wouldn’t give me more than I could handle. He thought I could handle this? Well, He sure knew something about me I didn’t know!

Early morning….and still the lessons came. Instructions on how to sleep peacefully. I listened with many doubts in my mind. Me…..sleep peacefully? Perhaps with a shot from the doctor.

Yet very clearly the picture came to me….Jesus sitting on a hillside speaking lovingly to the people gathered to hear Him…..compassion and tenderness on His face. I was sitting at His feet…..drinking in the words my weary emotions were so thirsty for.

As I listened, I felt the anxiety lifting…the fears dissipating. Calmness. Very clearly I understood I was to envision this scene at bedtime.

The first streaks of dawn came through the window. Had I been awake all night? Was everything a dream? Yet the absolute peace I felt was very real.

Evening came….the girls bathed and in bed…and I sat on the front porch thinking over the new ideas given to me. Eager to see if “they” worked, I climbed the stairs to my bed.

Closing my eyes, I envisioned the hillside….and Jesus….and me. Soon my brain was swamped with the bills I needed to pay….and the job I couldn’t find. “It didn’t work”, I heard myself say.

Jerking my mind back under control, I set the scene again….the hillside…..Jesus….me. All too soon, I was looking at the bills again.

Over several nights I struggled with my worries…..with keeping my mind focused. And slowly….ever so slowly….it began to work. I could control my thoughts.

Due to poor eyesight, I would leave my glasses on until just before I fell asleep….in case I needed to see anything in a hurry. As my new-found visualization technique began to work, it soon became apparent I needed to remove my glasses before I lay down. I fell asleep too quickly to leave them on!

Yes, the Lord knew something about me I didn’t know. The journey that seemed so terrifying became one of amazement as the scripture in Jeremiah 29:11 became a reality for me. God did have a plan for my future…..far better than I could ever imagine.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/23/07
This is amazingly written; I'm very surprised that you don't have any comments yet. The very notion of choosing sanity is quite appealing, and you've done a wonderful job of sharing your painful journey with your readers.
Pam Frey09/26/07
Thank you for being so open to share your experience. I am recently going through some very difficult situations myself;marriage problem!,have a five month old daughter who I want to grow up with a good solid Christian father. But your story reminded me that sometimes we feel like we are the only ones in the world hurting the way we are. But we all suffer. What an awesome Savior we have that brings beauty from ashes when we turn to Him and don't allow our hearts to become bitter but allow them to become better through the trials we face. God bless you and may He multiply His joy and peace to you.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/28/07
As one of four judges this week, I found your article to be excellently written.
Joanne Sher 10/01/07
Congratulations, Joy. Your entry has placed 8th in Level 1. The Lists for the Top 15 in each Level and the Top 40 overall are available in the Weekly Results and Highest Rankings forum of our Faithwriters Message Boards.
Janice Cartwright10/04/07
I think the Lord brought me here this morning for a reason. I needed to hear this. Your article is more a blessing than you know.
Catrina Bradley 08/13/09
I especially like this one, Joy. I know what I'll visualize when I lay my head down tonight and talk to God.
Yvonne Blake 08/16/09
Ohhh...I love the gentle steady progression to peace and rest. It would help to quote the passages that gave you comfort, so the reader can be learning too.
Andrea Willard08/17/11
Relinqishment: a choice for sanity. O how you nailed it. Surrender to the Spirit of God. Letting go into the only hope: Jesus. I do love this piece rediscovered so many years later. Wish you the best.