“Fear fears community”. That’s true, but do you know what else fear fears? Truth. Today my assignment was to write out my fears on paper. I am full of them, so I just started with those related to pursuing a life that matters.
Quickly, it was obvious that though I had listed 14 or 15 different trip-ups, they fell directly into three overarching categories:
- How others will see me
- Whether or not I have the resources, ability, etc to carry things out
- Whether I’ll enjoy where I end up, even if (especially if?) it’s what God is calling me to do. i.e., if I’ll “arrive” somewhere only to be unhappy or worse, unfulfilled
I wrote those out in the morning, then as I was getting ready I was overwhelmed with a reminder from the Soul Detox study (Craig Groeschel) I had done last year. Combat negative thoughts with truths. So I started praying, reminding myself of some truths that made my fears seem – though not less real – less ominous.
1. How others will see me —
Who cares, right? That’s how some people are wired – to not care. Oh, how I wish that were true of me. I care. I care immensely. It’s not even that I care to impress people, I first and foremost want them to think highly of my character. That’s not a bad pursuit, but it is bad when it becomes my definition of worth. I know this, but still I struggle.
The truth is though, my God – who I believe makes no mistakes – made me exactly how he wanted. In Jeremiah, we read that he knew us before he formed us (1:5). We read throughout the Bible that he chose us and sent His son for us when we were wholly unworthy. That he calls us heirs. Unreal! And in Romans 8 (one of my favorite chapters since junior high – go read it if you have 10 minutes!), we read that we are more than conquerors. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:31)… that absolutely nothing can separate us from His love (8:38-39). There are countless verses that remind me that the thoughts of others – good or bad – do nothing to define me more than my place as a daughter of the king.
2. Whether or not I have the resources, ability, etc to carry things out —
In Philippians 1:6, it says we can be confident to believe that God began a good work in us and will see it through. Ephesians 4:20 reminds us that He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” I probably don’t have the ability (whether talent, resources, money, strength, time, patience, whatever) to do much of anything good. But with Christ, I can do anything (Phil 4:13). More than I can even dare to dream.
3. Whether I’ll enjoy where I end up —
This one isn’t a fear that consumes me, but I’ll admit that sometimes I have a tendency to wonder if God really wants good things for us. I could parse that out, but this is getting long enough. 🙂 Jeremiah 29:11 says “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Hands down the best reminder of His desires for us – a post I’ve read dozens of times and come back to several times a year – is called “The god in our heads” on Jon Acuff’s SCL blog. Please, please read it. If you don’t have time now, open a tab for later, save it to Pocket or your reading list, set a reminder on your smartphone. I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed how I think about myself, even if nothing on it was “new” for me. Maybe it’s not for you either (or maybe it is), but it’s great stuff.
I’m so fearful still. But shifting my focus? That has a way of quickly giving me boldness to do whatever it is in store. For the big things that God might use to change the world, or for the patience and grace to parent my kiddos on the best and the worst of days (mine or theirs).