In this “Control Girl to Jesus Girl Series”, I’m sharing stories of women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Like me, these women would not say that they’ve arrived. They can’t claim to be perfectly Christ-like. But they are heading in a new direction.

I’m so pleased to welcome author and speaker (and my sweet friend), Amelia Rhodes, to tell her story of Control and Panic. 

Also, Amelia is offering a chance to win my book, Control Girl, on her blog today! Here’s a link.

My heart began to race. Fire radiated from my chest down my arms and up my neck. Sweat beads rolled down my temples.

“No, no. Please God no,” I cried. I recognized immediately what was happening to me…again. “I can’t have a panic attack. Not now.” 

I stepped out the back door of my home office hoping the early December Michigan air would cool the fire in my face.

“God, I can’t go back to a life of panic again,” I prayed desperately.

Past Panic

It had been years since I’d had a panic attack, but I have battled anxiety and panic for as long as I can remember. 

In middle school, I recall obsessively thinking about things like our house burning down, and how maybe I had left the curling iron on or a candle burning that would cause it. I had a deep fear that people only tolerated me, but didn’t really like me, among a list of other worries and fears.

Control became my coping mechanism. Through high school, I became an extreme perfectionist, the hardest worker, top of my class, but desperately lonely. I prayed, studied the Bible, and I was there for my friends. But I never asked for help. I held even my closest friends at arms distance afraid to let anyone too close. I hid my anxiety from everyone, even my parents.

During college, I suffered from depression and extreme insomnia. At the urging of a friend who saw my darkness, I went to see the counselor on campus. I quit going after a few sessions out of embarrassment. I didn’t see anything that was “wrong” in my life. I determined I would just work my way through and control it, like I always did. 

Reaching My Lowest

In my early thirties, after the birth of my second child, I hit my lowest. Insomnia returned. I suffered weekly panic attacks. Some days, it was all I could do to get out of bed, change diapers, and feed my kids. I’d slide the couch in front of the entryway to the living room and lie there all day watching my kids toddle around the room. 

I finally went to see my doctor who discovered I had a slowed down thyroid…and an anxiety disorder. I fought her diagnosis. I refused to take her prescribed antidepressant, and vowed to never tell a soul about my anxiety problem. I determined I would continue to control my life and keep the appearance of order and having it all together.

Except I physically couldn’t. God had allowed me to reach my lowest, so He could raise me up in His love.

A series of conversations with my husband, and then a trusted friend, and later a counselor, and another doctor (and the prescription) helped me begin the path to healing.

Healing from Anxiety

Over a period of years, I learned how to handle the anxiety. A big tool was learning to be authentic with people and releasing control of my image and perfectionism.

I’d been panic attack free for several years when the fire washed over my body that December morning. I was instantly afraid of returning to that dark place.

A tower of moving boxes sat in my living room where normally a fresh-cut pine would be covered with decades of handmade Christmas ornaments.

The closing date on the sale of our home loomed in a couple weeks. After months of searching, we still couldn’t find a new place to live. Several friends had even offered their basements as temporary homes.

The Root of Control

It was in that moment I realized how much of my panic was related to feeling loss of control. With the sale of our house and stepping into the unknown, not knowing where we would live next, my nemesis had set in once again.

But this time, I realized I didn’t have to let panic rule me. Nor did I have to try to control the situation causing the panic (as if I even could). 

I crashed to my knees in desperate prayer, then I leaned into the panic. I let it come. I let people in, texting my husband and a friend. They walked with me, held my hands, and helped me get up and keep moving. 

For two more days, my heart raced at the slightest noise. Rather than feeling discouraged or ashamed, I thanked God for the reminder that He is with me even in the panic. He walks with me; He carries this burden that I wish would go away forever.

And all those situations I can’t control – He walks with me through those too.

Amelia Rhodes lives in Lowell, Michigan with her husband and two children. As a recovering perfectionist who has been freed, by God’s grace, from the grip of perpetual anxiety, Amelia encourages women to discover who they are in Christ and to deepen their relationships with each other. Her favorite activities include coffee breaks and pizza parties with friends and family. 

Amelia is the author of Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community and Isn’t It Time for a Coffee Break: Doing Life Together in an All-About-Me Kind of World. Amelia’s writing has also been featured in four Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, the international devotional Upper Room, and in an upcoming devotional book from Guideposts. Amelia has a growing speaking ministry and speaks regularly to women’s groups on topics of spiritual growth, friendship, and community, offering practical tools for living our faith in the everyday. 

She lives in Lowell, Michigan, with her husband and two children.

You can connect with Amelia online at, Twitter: @amrhodes, Instagram: @ameliamrhodes, or Facebook:

Are You a Control Girl?

Take the Quiz to find out! Then come check your answers with the “Control Girl Quiz Series”. This series is meant to get you thinking about your own possible struggles with control. As a follow up, I hope you’ll consider my new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible.

Control Girl to Jesus Girl

Have you checked out the inspiring, real life stories in the “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series? Come learn from other women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Learn from their mistakes and take hope for the future.

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