Friday, October 19, 2012

Fear

I never knew, until recently, how much fear has dominated my life.

When I played on the playground as a youngster, I was always the one who couldn't do the monkey bars. The reason? Was I not strong enough? Not athletic enough?

I have no idea if I was or not. I didn't try. I was terrified of either falling, or looking like a klutz, or worse.

I never played many sports, either - even in the back yard. I couldn't help dunking when I was supposed to swing the bat, or diving out of the way when the Frisbee came toward me. In volley ball, I hung back, unwilling to challenge the crowd fighting at the net, lest I get an elbow in my face, or step on someone's foot - or, even worse, actually contact the ball and send it flying in the wrong direction.

I didn't label it as fear. I called it "being un-athletic." Fear? No, that wasn't me. I was talkative, outgoing, loud - certainly not shy. Afraid of what people thought of me? Of course not. I was full of conviction and determination. I could - and almost always would - debate with anybody, regardless of age. 

No, I wasn't a fearful, shy little girl. ....Was I?

As I grew, I learned to be quieter (don't laugh, family members!). I wasn't quite as ready to pipe up with my point of view in the company of strangers. I thought of this as a good thing, and I think it was. A meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great worth.

...But was I meek and quiet inside? Or was I withdrawing because I fear rejection? I was old enough to realize that people evaluated you based on your words, and so I began to limit my words in order that they should have less to judge.

I never was good at making decisions. It wasn't because I sat and analyzed everything from all directions. I wasn't wise enough to sit there and speculate where each road would take me. No, I was slow because I just sat there spinning my wheels with a glazed look in my eyes, afraid to commit to action, afraid to stay where I was...afraid of making the wrong choice, and therefore making no choice at all. ....which was actually a choice.

I've always had issues deciding what to wear. Is it because I'm vain, or self-conscious, or out-of-fashion? Well, I'm probably a bit of all of those, but the root of the matter is that I'm constantly thinking, "Who will see me in this? What will they think? Will the judge me? Will they like it? Will they disapprove? What should I wear to please the most people as possible?" ....Yes, I know I shouldn't be thinking that way. But it IS my default train of thought.

When I begin a conversation and realize I'm talking to someone who disagrees with me - whether witnessing to a non-believer, or talking with a Christian who believes differently from me - and we aren't just debating, but rather earnestly trying to "convert" each other, I instantly break out in sweat  (to an embarrassing extent!) and my heart pounds my ribcage. After such a conversation, I leave with a soaked shirt and damp palms, feeling as if I'm catching my breath. I'm terrified of making them angry with me. I can't stand to displease people - even if they're wrong and I'm right.

I love to write, but sharing my stories with real people makes me flutter nervously, or completely fall apart with a case of nerves.

I LOVE to bake things for people, but I will avoid doing it, or taking dishes to a church get together, for fear someone won't like it, and then despise me as a cook. Right now I've volunteered to take pasta salad to an event, for 30 people, and I'm absolutely terrified. What if they don't like it?

Balancing my checkbook scares me enough to make me put it off for months when I possibly can. What if I find out I'm broke?

...I could go on. The last year or so I have seen hundreds and hundreds of examples in my life of instances where fear is controlling me. I never thought of myself as fearful or controlled by fear before, so it's unsettling, to say the least. Actually, it's a little scary.

Ahem. Yes. I'm afraid about being afraid.

I rebel against this mental picture of myself. It goes against everything I thought I was. But I have to accept reality if I'm going to change things. Slowly, I'm taking the first steps.

First, I'm learning to admit that I am fearful about almost everything. My future. My body. My bank account. My family. My friends. My writing. Everything. When I see an instance in which I've acted based on fear, I'm learning to admit it. To say,  "Yes, I acted that way because I was scared." No more super-spiritual-bold-never-conquered image of myself. I can't let my dreams ruin my reality.

Second, I'm learning that fear is wrong. Has not He commanded me? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be ashamed, for the Lord your God is with you withersoever thou goest. Perfect love casts out fear. There is no fear in love. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. Fear not, for I am with thee.

Fear is my enemy. It is not to be tolerated, or put up with, or allowed to grow or fester in any way in my life. Admit to it, yes, but never embrace it. This is my mission now. To take every thought captive, and to lose my fear in love. To obey instantly, without fear of consequences. To find joy in everything - for joy and fear do not make good roommates.

He has come that I might have life. True, abundant life. When I picture this, I instantly think of a life without fear. No hesitancy - always knowing the right thing, and feeling no qualms about doing it. To have no fear of the future. A perfect trust in God. To leap out, into a glorious breath-taking view, and enjoy the fall, positive that He will catch me at the bottom. Like a child, tossed in the air, secure in the conviction that their daddy will be there when they come down again. Complete and utter abandonment to joy - THE Joy. My precious Jesus. HE is my joy.

Oh, what a life. I want it!

By God's grace, I shall have it.
 


2 comments:

ConstitutionGirl said...

Praying for your victory in that area, dear friend. As I read your post, I felt as though I could have written it myself. We are far too alike. Thank you for writing this and being so honest!

Love you!

~Sarabeth

Julie Page said...

Thank you for your inspiration! I love the analogy of leaping and falling into my Father'a arms. That's absolutely beautiful. Thanks, and God bless you as you walk victoriously!