On Fear

I’ve read this one article a few times, and seen it shared on various platforms as well in the past few months. The first time I read it I skimmed it and thought parts of it were ok and parts were meh. Then I read it again later and saw some things that maybe I should be taking to heart. I’m all about practically applying head knowledge, so I decided to try out the first challenge — eliminating fear, scared, and terrified from my vocabulary. Well, I tried…

When I started trying to get rid of those words, two things started to happen.

  1. I started being more aware of when I used those words. And felt those feelings. And how often I had them. And it sucked.
  2. I started thinking more about why I was afraid. Picking apart my fears. And it both sucked and was awesome.

So it sucked because I felt a little bit like my fears were dumb. I mean, real talks. I’m afraid of driving. Not like the childhood “I’m afraid of snakes and spiders” feeling (this is still relevant – I don’t like these animals thx). I’ve felt fear in a crippling, heart wrenching, sometimes-I-can’t-even-think fear. Sometimes it would keep me awake at night. Or, debatably worse, it would hit me while I was driving. (I have other common fears too, but this is the most predominant in my life right now).

It was awesome because I started wondering why I was afraid. And seeking ways to not be afraid. I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I was still going to FEEL these feelings. I can’t stop feeling them, just like how when something you find funny happens you can’t not be amused. You found it funny, therefore, you are amused. It is how I deal with the feeling that matters.

When you’re amused you can smile, laugh, type “lolololololol” into your phone etc. You can even whip out the smirking emoji. When I am afraid, I can dwell on my fear and let it overwhelm me, or I can harness it, and turn it around into prayer and praise to God.

Last weekend I was in a foodcourt at the mall with a bunch of other people and a little girl. While we were there, the fire alarm went off. No one was worried, and the staff made announcements over the PA system that there was nothing to worry about currently. The little girl, however, didn’t understand or trust the announcements and was scared. It took a lot of assurances from her mother for her to calm down and eat her lunch without worrying about how we were all going to get caught in a fire. (Also the fire alarm stopped…)

When I am afraid, I am turned inward to myself. When I am not afraid, I can turn outwards to others. When I am scared I am only thinking about the here and now. When I am not scared, I can remember there is a larger story I’m a part of that I can’t see. When I am terrified, I can’t see what is going on around me. When I’m not terrified, I can see other people and things that God is calling me to pour into and serve.

It isn’t easy. I’ve been dealing with this particular fear for a long time and I don’t think I would have been very good at this “let it go” stuff at the beginning. But working through it and starting to approach it with this mindset has helped me. It’s also crossed over into other fears I have — being single forever, not making enough money to support myself, those darn snakes that are everywhere and nowhere..

If I believe God is in control of my life and knows what he’s doing (if I believe he is who he says he is — and if he wasn’t why would I put my faith in him?????), then I do not need to be afraid. I may still have the feelings of panic and fear, but I don’t need to let them dictate my life and make my decisions for me. I need to put them aside and let God dictate those decisions instead. And I hope that one day, in the face of fear, I will not be afraid.

 

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The Game Plan (Philemon)

God’s plan for Onesimus and Philemon were not exactly what they had picked out for themselves. I don’t think it would have been in Onesiumus’ thought process to return, and I’m fairly confident it wasn’t in Philemon’s plan to accept him back with open arms. Also, they probably didn’t plan on being converted. Be that as it may, there was still a plan set out for them.

And you know what? It was a pretty good plan in the end. A little unconventional, but the results were pretty fantastic (I think, at least). So it reminds us that even when our life plan seems to make no sense, God is completely in control and he will make it beautiful in the end. It’s hard to trust, yes, but there is a beautiful story to tell on the other side.

Next Steps (John 21)

This last chapter is one of reconciliation and commission. In forgiveness, Peter is sent to take care of those whom Jesus loves. It is similar to our own salvation stories. As we are saved and pulled out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light, we too are commissioned to go and share the good news with others that we see. We aren’t supposed to worry about what all the other people are doing – God will continue to work in them as he has already planned in his great master plan. We are to do what we are called to do. Which is good, because if I start excessively worrying about other people I can barely finish what I’m doing myself.

He has Overcome (John 15-16)

If I was a disciple at this point in time, I would have been confused. And possibly terrified. Here, the guy I’ve been following for 3 years, is telling me that the future is going to be horrible. It’s going to be full of persecutions, and it’s going to have sorrow. There will be people who literally hate me. BUT DON’T WORRY GUYS. There will be something I’m sending you that will help you, and it will all be worth it in the end.

I would really have to trust to be able to keep calm about that … but maybe it’s because I know what is going to happen next. I don’t always trust even in my life today. But I’m supposed to. I like to be liked by other people. I like happy endings and good feelings, but I’m not always going to have them. However, Jesus has overcome the world, so I can take heart (16:33). The trick is to remember this in the bad times and in the good times.

Green Flags (John 7 and 8)

Jesus makes many claims in these chapters about being the Messiah/the Son of God. I can understand the confusion and frustration of the Pharisees. This guy came out of nowhere and is jeopardising the very things they held as truth. Yes, he did miracles, but he did not act like they thought he would outside of that. In fact, I don’t even know if I would have believed in Jesus if I hadn’t had the whole story, especially if I were a devout Jew. If someone told me I served the devil and that I wasn’t actually a child of Abraham, I would be rather upset. Plus, he’s causing discord among people! As a liker of rules and doing things the “right” way, I can definitely see the red flags they thought were being thrown up.

However, seeing the whole story, I can see that the red flags are actually green flags. In my own life, I often see red flags being thrown and get confused about what exactly is supposed to happen. I know that I don’t see the whole picture, so maybe I just need to relax and let God keep control and take some of the confusing things as green flags that are just bends in the road. If I really trust God with my life, then I should let him take me where he wants me to go. His plans are always beautiful when you look back on them.

HIS plan (Acts 23-24)

Side not to start: what kind of an insult is “whitewashed wall”? YOU CLEAN PERSON YOU. Maybe it means they’re only a wall? or they’re covering something up? I don’t get it 😦

i don’t have much to say about this passage except that God continues to keep Paul alive to fulfill his purposes. In a time when he could have died at any turn, God continued to preserve his life until he reached a point where he had finished all that God had planned. Paul was able to then go out and live his life in the face of danger, knowing that if he died it was the will of God. When I think about it that way, it makes it a lot easier for me to do things that are “scary” or that I’m afraid of, because I know that no matter what happens, God will be using me to fulfill his plans. (i have an abnormal fear of drive by shootings, ok?). God will use whoever and whatever he needs to fulfill his purposes on earth. I can rest in that.

All the People (Acts 9-10)

Forewarning, this is me trying to catch up on a lot of missed blogging because I have been working at camp as a counselor (still am) so these won’t be quite as in depth as they usually are. It will also take a few days. Moving on.

In this passage, Saul is completely taken by God. It must have been crazy to see it happen. I can’t imagine being there … I feel like I would have had to believe by seeing, but Luke never mentions what happens to Saul’s followers. I’m curious to know.

However, what mostly stands out to me in this passage is how God uses anyone and everyone his purposes. He can change a heart of stone (literally!) and make it follow him instead. He even will use me, which is kind of comforting when you think about it. Reminds me of Ephesians 2:10 in that there are plans he has already created for us to walk in.

Who is Man? (Acts 7-8)

While Stephen’s speech enraged those listening, I can’t help but be struck by the greatness of God’s plan. reading the condensed versions of the history of Israel brings out the way that God led his people. And when reading I remember the stories, and I also remember that during those times, not everyone understood what was happening. Indeed, sometimes even the leaders of the time were confused. But what is man compared to the greatness of God?

Even into chapter 8, it can be hard to see the point in God doing things the way he did. I mean, Phillip experiencing teleportation is pretty sweet, but I don’t know why it was done. However, I do know that in the great picture of the history of the world and God’s people, it makes sense. Somehow.

In the same way, I don’t fully understand everything that happens in my own life, but I know that it would make sense if I could see it the way God did. Because who am I to question it?

The End is Just the Beginning

Tonight I passed on everything I poured my time, energy, and basically any spare resource I had into. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’ll be honest, I cried on my way home tonight.

It might seem strange that I would cry over something as “contrite” as passing off my admin roles. Anyone who’s known me for the last year knows that this job has caused an extreme amount of anxiety, stress, and problems this year. Why am I not relieved to be rid of it?

I’ve also decided not to be a part of camp this year. Again, for those who know me, this is what I’ve done for the past few summers. It has become a part of who I am, a camp counsellor. But I’m not returning, When I made the decision, I ripped off my rope bracelet that I’d worn for two years. It was a little over dramatic, I know, but I didn’t want to be reminded of what I was leaving behind.

After finishing today, I felt empty. I literally felt as though I had given everything I had, and gotten nothing back (which isn’t completely true). I also felt like I was giving away everything I had identified myself with. As much as we say our identity is found in God and not in what we do, it can be so hard to separate the two sometimes. I find this especially hard when I’m serving in some capacity. The lines begin to become blurred because the things I am doing are for a good reason – but they do not define who I am. It’s just easier sometimes to find solace in being the job, instead of being the person who does the job.

It took me a while to figure out why I was having so much trouble with letting go this time, but it dawned on me when I was driving home (I always seem to have epiphanies when I’m driving). I’m afraid.

Not afraid of another car hitting mine and dying, I’m afraid of what this summer and what next year will look like. All too many times (ESPECIALLY this year), God has taken what I thought was going to happen, and flipped the tables to show me a different path. You’d think I would learn to trust, but I’m strugglebussing here.

This summer is like an open book, blank pages. So is next year. I mean, I know I have classes, but I don’t know what I’m doing outside of it. And I hate not knowing what’s coming. I plan out my time to a T. I know I need a break, but not knowing is hard.

All semester I’ve been hearing the whispering voice of God asking me the same question: “Do you trust me?” Sometimes is a gentle whisper as I read a book, sometimes it’s a roaring lion as I wait for the train. But all the while He is asking me. It’s scary when you lose your “security blanket”, but I know (I just have to keep reminding myself) that God is sovereign. he is in control.

His plan is bigger than mine.

The day is here, the time has come to sing a new song
It’s very clear, I must move on and sing a new song
It will define who I become, this new song
So show me how to sing along to this new song

Going there means leaving here
Saying yes means saying no
Moving on means letting go of what is sure
For more

– “New Song” Ginny Owens

Hope

This has been a long time coming – I’ll be the first to admit that. But it had to come. I’ll also be the first to admit that.

When we have nothing else to cling to in our lives, what do we do? Is this a cue to toss in the towel and give up? Is it an excuse to go indulge in something we know full well we’re going to regret one day?

Unfortunately (or fortunately …) I have found myself in the place of emptiness before. It’s not exactly the most comforting place to be. But when I look back on these moments, I notice that I have come out on the other side with new tools, perspectives, and maturity I never would have gained without it.

And this gives me hope.

One of the key phrases that was told to me when I first ran empty was said by my area director at camp (summer 2010). I had been sitting there telling her about how horrible I thought my life was going and how all these things had happened and it wasn’t fair. And she looked at me and said:

“Christy, you just have to choose joy.”

Well, let me tell you – that completely stopped me in my tracks. Could…could it really be that easy? She left shortly after that, telling me to come join everyone else when I was ready. And I sat there for a while (I was in a gazebo). And then I got up, walked out, and with every step I took, I said something I was going to leave behind (it conveniently was a stone path out to everyone else). I wasn’t perfect after this, but I kept reminding myself when something was getting me down that I had left it in that gazebo. And I now had hope that I would be ok. Hope in Christ that I would move on.

And I did.

And so here I am today; reaching the end of a different tunnel. It was no easier to make it through this time, but I’m emerging realizing different things. And yet they are the same things. All of the lyrics to Francesca Battistelli song “Free to Be Me” apply to this, but the chorus will suffice.

‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I’m so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I’m free to be me

In essence, I have realized that I am not perfect – nor will I ever be. But I can hope that even though I’ve got a few things not quite right, even though I don’t know what’s coming around the bend, even though I still struggle with things that I wish I grew out of – I am still growing. I am free to be me, even though I’m still learning about who that is. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But I have hope that it will be good.

Because the one who loves me has ordained it to be so.