Your YAWP for the World {Book Club}

Today we start our spring book: What Women Fear by Angie Smith. Lest that title make you roll your eyes and die a little bit on the inside, I get it. The only reason I bought the book was because it was on sale at the library for $2.00. In general, I’m not drawn to books that are marketed to Christian women, even though I am one. But most of this book is worth your time (we’ll get to the parts I think she sells the subject a bit short).

Here’s the thing, do you think of yourself as someone who fears? I’ll be honest, for the most part, I think we are a very brave group. Not in the ways folks back home may think we are brave or people in our church may tell us we are brave, that kind of bravery can be self-inflating. My hope is that we are brave in the ways God defines bravery. So why then a book on fears?

Fears disintegrate us.

Fears take parts of ourselves and keep it in the shadows and we get so used to it in the shadows, we don’t even realize it was meant to be a part of us. Fears keep us living parts of our lives in one space and parts in another. I’m not talking about the “what do we share publicly and what do we keep private.” Out of fear you may share something that was to be private or out of fear you may be reluctant to share a part of yourself.

Instead, God wants to transform us back into our true, integrated selves. Fear divides and is the native tongue of the enemy of our souls. The problem is, we forget that Fear isn’t OUR native tongue. The language of Eden is.

This weekend I was at a conference and the speaker showed a scene from Dead Poet’s Society. The speaker said that God is calling us out of the shadows and to watch the scene as if we were Todd Anderson (played by Ethan Hawk) and the Holy Spirit was the teacher (played by Robin Williams). I’m going to ask you to do the same. Here is the scene:

In light of thinking about fears, isn’t that powerful? When the boys laughed, what did Robin Williams say? “Forget them. Forget them.” Those laughing boys are our fears. They watch our lives and through their laughter try to get us to be ashamed, to be small, to be invisible in our own lives.

But what does the Spirit say to us? Forget them. Forget them. Listen to me.

If you’ve looked through the Table of Contents you’ve seen we’re going to be exploring the fear of:

  • What if
  • Rejection, Abandonment, and Betrayal
  • Being found out
  • Failure
  • Death
  • My past catching up with me
  • Not being significant
  • God’s plan for my life
  • That God isn’t real
  • God

Today we’re discussing the introduction and the question “Did God really say that?”

This is what stood out to me:

“Scripture repeatedly shows us how God uses questions to reveal something about the heart of the person he is speaking to. Each question was for their benefit so they could be aware of a lesson he was teaching them. There is accountability and forced recognition of the words we have in response to these questions, and I believe there is great wisdom to be gained by considering them.

“Interestingly, the very first question posed in the Bible is not spoken by God, but rather by Satan himself disguised as a snake. It is a simple, profound sentence that changes everything. We learn that Satan doesn’t have to force us to do anything sinful; he merely needs to plant a seed of doubt and let us tangle ourselves up in it.”

“Fundamentally, every single fear comes from the lies spoken by the enemy in a garden designed to be a haven: Are you sure? Are you really, really sure because you were staking your life on the claim that you might have misunderstood. God says he is good … Is he? He tells you he has your best mind … Does he? He boasts that he is Almighty, all-knowing, altogether trustworthy … is he?

“What a powerful way to get us to fall into the trap. He doesn’t quite push us in, but he doesn’t have to. We do a pretty good job of jumping once the doubt is there.”

Isn’t that a helpful question to ask ourselves when it comes to fear? Did God really say that?

There were other places I marked too :). What stood out to you as you read the intro? Do you tend to think of yourself as fearful or brave? What do you think of the title?

See you in the comments!

Amy

P.S. Next week we’ll discuss chapter 1.

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

21 Comments

  1. Beth Everett February 29, 2016

    It was around this time last year that someone asked me how I was feeling about our family’s upcoming transition. I looked at her and answered with one word “Terrified!” It seems like such a dramatic word, but at the time I really did waver with incredible moments of fear and doubt. I wanted those feelings to disappear, to be gone – for good! During those months of wrestling with particular fears, I held on to many truths including Psalm 23:5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” – and the truth that God did not bring the psalmist to the table apart from or away from his enemies, but rather He met with him and provided for him right in the midst of them.
    As the author says, “We have access to Him here, in the moment, in every situation that arises.”
    I really appreciated what she wrote about BALANCE. She wrote: “We (mistakenly) believe that at some point we are going to find the solution, learn how to balance the pole exactly right in every moment so that we don’t ever tremble anymore. We think we can overcome it so that it never rears its head again, and that the rest of our days will be smooth sailing…”  Wouldn’t that be great! But as she points out “that’s not how God designed us.”
    As I was thinking of this this afternoon I had a picture of the table in Psalm 23:5 -in the picture in my head that table was being held up in perfect balance, not tipping to the left or the right, because HE was holding it. The psalmist (and I) was simply invited to sit and dine with Him.
    I am thankful that the season of wrestling through those particular fears and doubts has subsided and I can look back on HIS steady faithfulness and love through it all, with incredible thanksgiving; and that He never “[mocked me for it, or gave me a failing grade because I had those moments of doubt]”.

    1. Amy Young March 7, 2016

      Beth, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to comment. Connection Groups and all :). It’s good! But I feel a bit lame that I can’t do it all, but I can’t. :).

      When you see the retreat material you’ll know exactly the part that made me think of this comment :>. I won’t say more now!

      What a bit of encouragement from Psalm 23. We don’t have to wait until our enemies are gone, we can still dine at the table!!

  2. Jenilee March 1, 2016

    your first paragraph though… 😉 that is very much me. I have a hard time with “solve your problems” type books. But… fear is a real part of our lives and any discussion on it is a blessing! And I do like Angie Smith. She seems very genuine and she has walked the very things she is writing about. I’ll be reading!

    1. Amy Young March 7, 2016

      She has indeed! One of my nieces is a bit anxious, but nothing like what Angie experienced as a child. Wow.

  3. Hadassah March 1, 2016

    We have a very real enemy who thrives on our silence. He doesn’t want us to be in fellowship, sharing our hearts and seeking wisdom on how to live lives that glorify God in spite of the darkness we feel.

    Having just returned from a conference for global workers, this statement rang strong and true for me.  One of the things we did was meet in small groups, and at first I was hesitant to share.  I didn’t know anyone in my group, they didn’t know me, and I didn’t want to feel vulnerable with a group of complete strangers.  What would they think of me if I was honest about how I was feeling?  And yet, the more open we were with one another, the more I realized how similar were our struggles.  And how much wisdom those who had been at it longer than I had to share if only I was willing to be real and admit that everything wasn’t ok.  It was this fellowship that I might have missed out on if I’d insisted on living in an alternate reality.

    As scary as that was, in someways this is much easier to do with strangers.  People we don’t have to face everyday.  I’m still working on being open on our campus.  Living as we do, where we work and socialize with the same people day in and out, in a high transition environment, it feels safer to be silent at times.  But, I long for the sisterhood that is possible.

    How have some of you dealt with this fear?

    1. Rachel March 1, 2016

      Hi Hadassah!

      I agree.  It’s easier to be vulnerable with strangers in a setting like that than the people you see everyday!  And way to go for stepping out and being vulnerable!!

      I, too, struggle to know how  to share with those I see more regularly.  Specifically, I struggle to know how much I should share b/c I don’t know if they’d like to hear more!  Another thing that can keep me “silent” is when I don’t receive the same vulnerability in return.  (But you remind me that I need to keep trying!)  Another challenge I have is not knowing the host culture’s language fluently enough to be able to have a short conversation at church, for example, that is real.  I get tired of the “Hi!  How are you?  I’m good.  How are you?” conversations!  I can walk away feeling like No one knows me!!!  (which is an awful feeling)

      One way that has helped me with connecting is having that one or two someones that you can always be more open with.  And that is enough.  And maybe they’re fellow Americans, and that’s okay.  I’ve learned it’s okay if I can’t connect deeply with everyone as long as I’m connecting with someone.

      1. Amy Young March 7, 2016

        Rachel and Hadassah — Agreed! Your comments make me think of Dr. Cloud’s book Safe People. We don’t have to open ourselves up to everyone, because not everyone is safe. But when we go to the other extreme of opening ourselves to no-one, we are isolated and that’s not good for our souls!

  4. Amanda March 1, 2016

    The title of this book caught my eye … fear is something I struggle with more often than I’d like to admit, and now that I’m in a new season of transition (adjusting to life back in the states), fear has been a big part of my journey. I requested this book from the library today and plan to read as much as I can!

  5. Spring March 1, 2016

    I really enjoyed the intro to this book and how she talks about why fear so influences us.  Thank you for choosing this book it is  timely for my life right  now

    1. Amy Young March 7, 2016

      Well, I’m certainly not glad you’re facing fear in a way that you especially need this now, but I am glad for community and resources and the ways we can walk with each other when life is challenging :)!

  6. Brittany March 2, 2016

    I have found myself recently feeling paralyzed by fear. My heart broke as I read about the author’s experience with anxiety  as a child. That was certainly not my experience and I’ve not ever been one to lay awake at night worrying. At least, not until recently. As my children grow (in number and age) so do my fears. Now I’m afraid of what will happen to them. What kind of world they will live in. Whether I’m tuning their lives. The list goes on…

    And I have to say, though I wasn’t afraid of not measuring up to Santa’s standards as a child, I grew up feeling the weight and judgement of not measuring up to God’s. In the back of my mind, I’ve been that little girl hiding under the bed, convinced that I’d really blown it this time and surely God would pour out his wrath on me! I still feel, sometimes, that fear that maybe I’m not even saved. I mean, how could someone who has been saved from sin and death be so terrible at loving her Savior?

    I think this is going to be a great book and I’m looking forward to the discussion.

    1. Spring March 3, 2016

      Dear Brittany my prayers are with you!  Our friend and a recent mother of a 4 month old passed away due to her fears just as we went into overseas work.  This is a long story not worth typing out but I pray that you would be less fearful as the time passes

    2. Amy Young March 7, 2016

      Brittany, I was so happy to see your name come through on the comments. I totally understand why you needed to step out of book club for a while AND please to anyone reading this, Book Club is a place of freedom! When you can be here, great, when it doesn’t work out, no pressure.

      What I mean is . . . I like you and I’m happy to see you :).

      As I read your comment, I was flooded by how much God loves for you and how, in his perfect timing, we are reading this book. I imagine (and am praying) that He is going to use this book to slowly untangle some of the fears you live with. And then he’s going to use those untangled strings and knit you something beautiful out of them. It is an invitation to freedom for you and how you can be more joyfully present in your marriage and family without the debilitating fear. (maybe I’m reading way too much into this. But I just got the strongest sense of how very much God loves you!!!)

  7. Anna March 3, 2016

    I love the story of how you bought the book.  Nice surprise. 🙂  One time I bought a children’s advent book on a whim, because it was 25 cents at a thrift store.  It ended up being a great book, and we continued the series each year with the next books.  (Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide)

    The thing that stood out to me from the introduction of the book was the part about Satan asking Eve, “Are you sure?”  It’s almost as if he made things too concrete, Eve would disagree. But because it was so subtle and insidious, she bought into it.

    1. Amy Young March 7, 2016

      Anna, isn’t it the best the treasures that can be found at thrift stores? That question really stood out to me too. I think when I retell the story, the Serpent is a lot more involved and plays a bigger role . . . he uses a lot more words than just “Are you sure?” But what power (sadly) those three words can hold!!

  8. Lauren March 4, 2016

    Hey Amy, wow I  left this little video crying. I had a similar experience happen to me in Varsity. It was my second year and I was studying English and Psychology. My English lecturer for poetry was eccentric, in the best way – as in way out there, a lady with more spunk than I had ever seen. One afternoon in the class we had to discuss certain poems and how we felt about them, unpacking them. Everyone was going for it but the poem I was given was about a tree and I just couldn’t get in to, I was really doubting myself. Thinking I wasnt good enough to unpack that poem. I just stared down at my notebook. She pulled up a chair alongside me and asked me, “what is bothering you?”

    I told her, “this tree, I don’t like it, can’t I do something else!” Well she spent the better part of 3 hours alongside me, asking questions of me, deep ones – what about the tree, why! Until I literally screamed against the frustration that was blocking me and getting me not to believe that I could do these poems. When I yelled, she smiled and said, yup now do it! I was in tears and looked down at my notes (ignoring the other students) and I could unravel that poem. I will always remember that moment and the way she helped me. I think these moments sound like fiction, but they are more alive than we know. Perhaps it’s something we need to do once in a while with each other, because I find as we go through life, we lock things away and we never allow our true feelings or self, to say what we struggle with, perhaps we fear rejection or judgment, but God never judges us for our fears. He wants us to face them and help us undo them. Wow, revelation for myself today. Thank you for sharing this! Lauren :)))

    1. Amy Young March 7, 2016

      Lauren!! I can see why you’d cry in that video. What a gift your English teacher gave you — and using the lens of the Holy Spirit, what a beautiful picture it was of her/the HS sitting with you. Three hours. I love how there was no pressure to “do it fast” or “move it along” but there was the distinct sense that you couldn’t run from it and she would wait.

      And I love the truth you remind us of: God never judges our fears. So true. He will help us face and undo them. yes!!

  9. Sheryl March 4, 2016

    “We have a very real enemy who thrives on our silence. He doesn’t want us to be in fellowship, sharing our hearts and seeking wisdom on how to live lives that glorify God in spite of the darkness we feel.”

    Our silence is what causes isolation–one of Satan’s most effective tools in the lives of women.

  10. Michelle Marie March 7, 2016

    Lest that title make you roll your eyes and die a little bit on the inside, I get it.”  Ha! That’s where you had me :). I have not yet picked up a copy of the book, but as one likeminded to another, I plan to. And who doesn’t love a good Dead Poet’s Society reference? 🙂

    1. Michelle Marie March 8, 2016

      Can I reply to my own comment? Think of this as a continuation I-now-have-a-copy-of-the-book-in-my-hands comment. She writes “never once did Satan tell her to eat the fruit; all he did was ask her if she was sure. And then I think she wondered if God really had her best interest in mind. We aren’t so different, are we?” But then later to acknowledge, “I believer fear is the natural response to the question Satan whispered and I find that every day I have to adjust my footing consciously to move toward Jesus.”  In all my years of hearing this story of the serpent and the Fall, I never considered this before, but there is so much truth in this, isn’t there?  And I LOVED the “pole in our hands” analogy (as opposed to the net analogy). Wow!

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