Confessions of a Scaredy-cat

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!

Fearless

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?

6 Comments

  1. Sarah Hilkemann May 4, 2016

    Joy, thank you for sharing so openly and beautifully! I have been struggling with the fear of being abandoned and/or rejected lately, and today as I was walking and praying, I kept hearing God whisper, “I will never leave you”. What you said in your post fit so perfectly with this, that I need to let this fear push me closer to Jesus. I need to fight to hear His words of truth, even as bits of fear still cling to my heart. Thank you for this post!

    1. Joy Smalley May 5, 2016

      Hi Sarah, I am so glad that the words resonated with you and were an encouragement. God is so incredible gracious to us and I love how he spoke the words, “I will never leave you.” God truly never leaves us even when we think he should or that he would he is always there pulling us and drawing us deeper into relationship with him.

  2. Deb May 4, 2016

    Thank you <3 You wrote words I could never express. Words I could never form from a thought I never imagined. How Glorious. Freeing. You put words to feelings and emotions, tiny fears to giant ones that have confounded and discombobulated me my whole life. You gave words and expression to the things that I have experienced my entire life in the quiet loudness of my own mind. My battlefield. Holding my sword high and my shield close with my helmet tied to my head, shaking in my boots. The Holy Spirit has grasiously held my hands throughout this journey and I have prayed until I cried, laughed or felt the crazy somewhere in between to rid my thoughts of the daily fear. I have had my victories on top, but they were enormous mountains to climb and the valley is where I reside most of the time. You giving it some sort of substance, reason, making it tangible to my spirit of the why, has given me a freedom, if just for this moment, but a hope I can hold and remember to keep joy. Joy in the Journey whether that be looking from at a victory from the outside or through the port hole of fear. Thank you.

    1. Joy Smalley May 5, 2016

      Deb, your words are beautiful. I truly believe that God has a reason for all he does. I appreciate what you said about Joy both in the victories and in the fear because I believe that is true too. Joy and faith and peace in Christ can be sustainable even in those moments of great fear and anxiety. The presence of God never leaves us.

  3. Sara May 5, 2016

    I have been encouraged by Psalm 56 where it says “when I am afraid I will put my trust in You.” It doesn’t say “never, ever be afraid” but WHEN I am afraid I’m gonna run to God. It makes this “fearless” thing attainable when I’m alone in our compound at night and the dog starts acting crazy, stopping my heart nearly every time since our robbery. Then, I do like this verse suggests, and fling little me (and my preschoolers) at Jesus, my refuge, and either find peace or have fear incapacitated enough that it doesn’t overwhelm me. I find it neat that God can even use fear, Satan’s weapon, to build our relationship with Himself.

    1. Joy Smalley May 5, 2016

      Hi Sara, I love Psalm 56 too. God is so incredibly gracious, I think we put such expectations on ourselves to be without fear and yet God knew we wouldn’t be and gives us words to express what we feel. God’s word is so powerful to soothe, even if the fear is not eradicated.

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