Letting fear lead

Most of my life, fear has lead.

Even after becoming a Christian in the seventh grade, I have journals of asking God to make me brave, to relieve my fears.

To no avail.

It was a way of life before I was a Christian and continued.  I wasn’t sure I was “saved” because this struggle seemed so deep. And a lot of my prayers and faith depended upon God answering these desperate pleas for freedom from fear.  I was asking God to take something away, but it was something that needed tended.

Maybe some of you are like me, I want all of the “how to-s” to do it the same way as so and so and be free of fear.  Because what I’ve always wanted most was that exact thing, freedom from fear, the end result, perfection, Heaven really.

With the help of my counselor, I can sit with my fears a little longer.  I can let them settle so I can see clearer.  Fear was a defense, a way of protection.  That is a correct connection.

There were areas of my life that needed defending.  Needed a voice.  A person to stand up and say I got this!

And His name is Jesus Christ.  When I listen to my greatest fears and hurts, I treat myself with kindness.  And then that kindness can flow out to others.  But the truth is if I sit just a second longer, Jesus, the Holy Spirit is able to come up and the whirlwind clears.

God is a whisperer, not a screamer.  If something within you is screaming by all means give notice, but you don’t have to respond immediately, unless your arm is falling off or something.  If there’s no blood, you got a few minutes to breath and see something different.

I read an article recently, and thought oh crap this is me right?, I have to fix this right now.  I can’t live this way.  (An old response.)  But once I sat a few minutes longer, I realized there was something for me to learn.  A piece for me to take away.

I can sit back and think.  Things are changing, slowly.  Progress is happening.

Fear might always be my knee jerk response, but my guess is it will become less and less my immediate response.  As long as I give it enough attention to listen, let it speak, and choose wisely.

Fear is a means of protection.  We shouldn’t go running into a fire, the fear of it hurting should be enough to stop us.  Fear is purposeful.  But sometimes it has grown so loud, it has drowned out all the other voices, like God’s.

This isn’t easy.  I still fail in this.  But in the failing is where I grow the deepest.  The “oh-yeah I forgot this doesn’t work anymore.”

So don’t let fear lead, not by ignoring it, but by giving it a seat at the table so it no longer has to yell like a toddler in your ear until you listen.

Let a trusted mentor/counselor walk through some of those fears.  Pray that God would show you something knew as you sit just a little while longer until the calm comes.

Are you angry?

Anger.  I love covering that word with some of the most deflated words.  I’m just upset.  I don’t know.  I just don’t feel good.  But, what I really feel is anger.

Is it okay to be angry?  I think so.  But in the moment I’m not sure if I can allow myself.

When fear normally shows up so do the thoughts.  “Oh, you can’t be angry.  Christians are patient, calm, and kind.”  I tell myself.  “How are your kids going to turn out?”  I remind.  “What would _______ (insert important person, or person staring at the grocery store) think of your angry outburst?”  Shame.

Anger is a complex thing.  It can come up at a moments notice, and I look around like what the heck just happened?  Dr.  Jekyll has come.

Guess who I like more?  The calm, cool, collected mom.  But with three kids five and under, there are going to be some “upsetting” moments.  Stubbing my toe can send me somewhere scary.

When I first started counseling, I had a lot of anger to express.  I had pent it up in this whole idea of being “kind, compassionate Christian girl.”  I wanted to be forgiving.  I wanted to be gentle.  Anger felt unforgiving and the opposite of gentle.

I had some things to be angry about.  They were valid.

And this diagram got me.  Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions has encouraged me more than a time or two in this process of freedom.  He describes anger’s opposite feeling as fear.  Wow.  Fear displays itself in anger sometimes.  So when I’m angry, my thoughts are normally on what other people are thinking about me, fearing how they perceive me as a mom.  Sometimes I’m angry because I’m afraid someone will hurt me.  I feel angry sometimes because of  my lack of control.

Learning how to express emotions is a huge step in walking out freedom I believe.

I like this freedom.  When I’m angry, it is okay, and maybe I can ask myself “Are you afraid?”

Are you angry?  Maybe ask yourself the same question, and then listen.  I like this response.  Feels loving.  Instead of punishing yourself for being angry, embrace it for a moment.

 

 

Making connections

This season of life seems to be one of making connections.  Those ah-ha moments that put pieces of life back together where they were once all strewn across the floor for people to step on.

Last night, we were having small group and I was sitting and thinking about influence.  And I immediately had this rush-you know the feeling when you think you’ve done something completely wrong and there’s no way to go back to undo it-this time to my head where I was processing something that had happened.  A word ill spoken.

Shame.  The rush, the flushed face, the thing that says “there’s no way this can work out” or heal, it’s shame.  It keeps me in a place of anxiety and feeling unworthy.  A place that says things can’t change or I can’t change.

I realized it was shame, but didn’t know what to do with it.  So I was asking for prayer requests, realizing I was embarrassed to even share, but said you know I’m not perfect.

ah-ha. I’ve kept shame at bay by trying to be perfect.

Shame keeps us in a lot of unhealthy places.  Places of secrets, of fear of being known, accepted, loved.

But, when we step out we realize we are not alone, and we can share.  Last night, I said “I’m a ministers wife, but I’m not perfect.”  ah-ha.  I had put those two things together.  “If you are a ministers wife, i.e. you must be perfect.”  Kind of a hard gig to live up to.  But being real, being vulnerable, opening up even the yucky parts of myself to my friends and family has cleared up a lot of that shame.

Then it hit me, I could ask for forgiveness, share my heart, open up more, and allow an opportunity to be forgiven.  All was not lost.

I always thought Pharisees believed they were perfect.  But they didn’t.  They knew their secrets, their lies, their addictions, their pride.  They used their perceived perfection to hide their shame and guilt.

I’m reminded of the story of a woman who was thrown at the feet of Jesus naked, ashamed for been caught in the act of adultery.  The Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus and see what He would do with her.  So he began to write and Jesus asked “If one of you is without sin, throw the first stone.”  And they all left, see they knew they had sin, it would be blasphemy if they said they didn’t.  So, it was just Jesus and this woman, I can imagine the shame she’s feeling, and Jesus says, “Did even one condemn you?” “No,” she replied.  And Jesus says, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”  (John 8:1-11)

Forgiveness with Jesus is simple.  It’s coming to Him in all our shame, and nakedness.  And leaving with Him saying I don’t condemn you either.  Jesus knew, the condemnation is what buries us and keeps us from coming back to Him.  Removing that shame then gives us the power to live.  Fully.  Oh sweet forgiveness.  Sometimes I feel I’m just now grasping more of it.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”  1 John 1:8-9

So what do you need forgiveness for, ask, and it will be given.  I love this verse because its a promise.  Thank you Lord.