Yeah…so….I’m pretty much a scaredy-cat, and now that I actually own a cat, I can truthfully admit that the metaphor applies. I’m easily startled, as if all my muscles are in a perpetual state of tension, ready at any moment to flee from real or perceived danger. I like to skulk around in the corners, wary and watching, more likely to skirt around the edges then to charge through the center.
I was up late last night, not because I wanted to be, but because my anxiety and fear kept my heart pounding and my breathing shallow and my mind was racing. I mean, what if my kids die while I’m sleeping? Or maybe there is a rat about to sit on my face or a snake that’s dying to crawl up into my bed!
Laugh out loud, people, because I am not fearless.
There are a lot of ways in which we Christians are encouraged to live without fear….If we can just take every thought captive, fill our minds with scriptural truths, or simply trust Jesus and stop worrying about….everything….then I would be without fear. I mean, it says in Scripture, BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING!
So why am I still so afraid?
We could talk about my family history of anxiety or extreme culture stress or even traumas associated with a few of my fears (like how the smell of burning trash sends my body into fight or flight every…single…time) but it all seems so irrelevant…because, I’ve prayed and I know what God can do, I know he can take this fear from me and being a good Christian girl, I have memorized the scriptures. I have sought after Him and I have begged for this fear to be alleviated and for my soul to be set free from it. To finally find some peace of mind.
Yet fear remains.
And then last month I realized something…
I realized that I pray.
I realized that I have scriptures memorized and posted on walls throughout my house.
I realized that I wake up most mornings, earlier then I want to, to read God’s word.
I realized that I seek after God, longing deeply for him.
I realized that my fear has never served to push me further from God but has pushed me straight into his arms. God has graciously drawn me closer to himself and I am reminded of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the thorn he asked God three times to relieve him from, yet it also remained.
It is easy for me to become trapped by my fear, to see it as a symptom of imperfect faith and inadequate trust in God, to stuff it down and try to hide it. This spiral of guilt pulls me deeper into shame and I want to hide my face from God, buried beneath Christian platitudes.
I’m fine. I’m not afraid.
It seems counterintuitive but the more I accept the presence of my own fears the more I am able to see the hand of God and, in this way, the face of my fear changes shape. It’s the truth of our fear that sets us free, not the lie.
My fear of flying can become hours of deep breathing and very intentional prayer (please don’t let it fall, please don’t let it fall). My fear of fire can be a releasing of my material things. My fear of losing my kids becomes an opportunity to pray over their little souls and once again remember that they are more God’s than mine. My fear of rats becomes an opportunity to wonder why God ever created such creatures and while we’re on the subject, why do cockroaches have to be so big? My fear of abandonment becomes a sweet moment of remembrance of every time I felt alone and God was present for me.
Maybe my fear is then, in fact, a grace. A sweet grace that displays my need for God and draws me ever deeper into a real and honest relationship with Christ.
So, my encouragement is this: we, all of us, feel fear. Let us utilize this fear for the glory of God because while Satan may be fighting for fear to overrun us and overwhelm us, God is using our fear to draw us back to the feet of Christ. What is intended for evil is actually being worked out brilliantly for our good and the glory of God.
Don’t hide it, don’t wallow in it, don’t be ashamed of it….but let God use it.
What fears have you been struggling with?
How will you turn them into an opportunity to commune with God today?