Fear and freedom

Here’s the truth about me.

I am afraid of all sorts of things.

When Boyfriend asked me on my birthday eve how I wanted to grow during the last year in my 20s, I stared at the blades of grass thinking for a minute.

“I want to stop being so fearful and imagining the worst-case scenario all the time.”

I had debated for a second whether to be so…truthful…when I could pick something more admirable. But it’s the truth.

I’m not afraid of bugs, intervening in dangerous situations, medical emergencies, giving presentations, or jumping off of cliffs,

but in 24 hours, I can fear having children, not being able to have children, a difficult marriage, being difficult to be married to, children turning their backs on God and death or profound disability of a husband or child. Did I mention that’s just in twenty-four hours?

Being single can suddenly start to feel safe relative to all the pain that loving can hold. I want to take back my surrender of “anything” and make it “anything but that, God” again.

Anything but working to the bone for years because I have a child with a disability or severe mental illness. Anything but infertility for decades. Anything but my husband dying and leaving me with young kids and day-care expenses and having to work two jobs. Anything but the pain of watching my child not love you and live a life rejecting you. Anything but living out my life in grief.

But when I look at why I’m afraid, I realize that no fear is really rooted in the circumstance.

All fear is really rooted in the fear that God won’t be enough.

Fear that it would break me, break my faith, break my hope, break my joy. Fear that I’d have to endure a long life of pain before the promised eternal joy, and I’m still a little shell-shocked from the past year. I don’t want to go back into battle. Send someone else to the front lines. I don’t want to have to fight powers and principalities to be joyful and happy again.

And I wonder it when I see pictures of his old girlfriend on Facebook and it takes the breath out of my lungs. I wonder why I doubt his words and assurance. Why do I fear what he tells me I have no reason to fear? Maybe I fear because I doubt that I’m really loved.

Suddenly, I’m not just talking about my boyfriend anymore.

And maybe I’ve been living out of “I love God.” 

Maybe I need to learn how to live out of “God loves me.” 

Oh, I know He loves me, but do I know how deep? If I don’t, can I learn? And as I do, can I beat back fear by remembering that I’m really loved?

Maybe just like I beat back brokenness by counting gifts

I am supposed to beat back fear by recounting truths

starting with the truth of His love for a daughter named Joyce.

He loves me. He loves my (awesome, and don’t worry, Christ-like) boyfriend. He loves my parents. He loves my brother. He loves any future-children.

One of my greatest prayers lately is to help me stay focused on Him when it’d be easy to be distracted or become complacent because I’m happy and falling in love. God has given me a recurrent image. I ask Him to help, and I sweep my arms apart. All people, things, and stresses are parted. There’s an aisle created, and all the worldly stuff is held at bay and becomes unimportant. There, at the end of the aisle, is Jesus. When I get to have my eyes on Him like that, it feels like nothing can separate us. There’s an aisle for me to  receive His joy because I can see Him. It makes me want to take steps towards Him.

 

I was sitting in that tonight when a surprise-prayer came out “Lord, I don’t know what the future holds, but if you’re in it, that’s good enough for me.”

It’s not the end of fear by any means, but it’s the start of some good steps through it.

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