I’m afraid of a lot of things. I’m afraid of cockroaches, of being abducted, of suspenseful scenes in movies or TV shows. Sometimes I’m afraid of my plane crashing (I’m currently bouncing in my seat on a plane flying at 10,000 feet through a storm, so this one feels pretty real right now).
I’m afraid that the economy could take a turn for the worse and I could lose my job. I’m afraid that someone I love could die in a car crash. I’m afraid that statistics will be right, and I’ll lose someone to cancer.
I’m afraid of people seeing me a certain way other than how I’d like them to see me: that I’m not strong enough, or pretty enough, or cool enough. That I’m too boring, too complicated, or too needy. I’m afraid that if I let my guard down all the way, people will bail; that it will be too much for them to handle. I’m afraid if that happens, I’ll be alone.
Fear can make you clench your teeth, forget to exhale, and become so tightly wound you become a nasty little ball that’s so dark and twisty it could never be untangled. It will make you ask “What if?” and respond with hundreds of terrible possibilities, because if you name them before they happen, at least you’ll feel somewhat prepared for whatever suffering you’re bound to endure.
Fear can trick us into feeling practical. It tells us it’s the wiser choice; that people who live with naive optimism only can do so for so long, until they’re hit by a metaphorical freight train, and then they’re in the same boat as the rest of us: hurting, sad, and broken.
Fear let’s us believe that God’s goodness is surpassable. That darkness is bound to surface, so all we can do is be ready for it the best we can.
I’m learning that fear is a load of BS. I realize singing Kumbaya and pretending trials will never happen is an even larger load of BS, but my point is just that fear isn’t the badass it gets credit to be. The real power lies in hope. Hope is always stronger than fear.
God’s love for us is infinite. There is nothing greater in all of existence that beats it. Name anything. Still doesn’t touch it. God wants to bless us in crazy ways. He wants to flex for us. He wants to pour favor and blessing and goodness and joy and “How is that even possible!?!” all over us. He can literally do anything. A-ny-thing. And he wants to. He wants to do things greater than we even know to pray for; but the problem is we’re so paralyzed by fear. We worry. We try to control. We map out what we think the road to God's goodness should look like. We let fear make us pull and resist instead of relax and trust.
I realize that living in a place of trusting God and abandoning fear sounds warm and fuzzy, but that the reality is it’s not a switch that you flip. You don’t get to say “See ya never, fear. We’re through." Fear chases us. It means war. We have to abandon it over and over and over again. Sometimes we’re on a roll, and then suddenly it gets the best of us. Sometimes fear makes our prayers turn into ugly crying- into embarrassing temper tantrums we throw to God. Often our prayers sound a lot less like “Your will be done.” and more like “I just want it this way." If I'm being honest, I did all of those things tonight alone. Fear let’s us insult God’s desire to bless us abundantly by treating him like a cosmic vending machine that’s supposed to instantly spit out what we want.
I once heard a story of a man walking his horse out of it's barn. He planned on taking him to a giant green pasture so he could eat the tall, lush grass and roam free. On the way, they came upon a small patch of grass, and the horse stopped walking so he could eat. The man encouraged the horse to keep walking, but the horse refused. Sadly, the man exclaimed "I'm trying to take you somewhere far greater than this. Why are you fighting me?"
Isn't this how we are with God? We fear his green pastures we haven't seen may not actually come, so we cling to what we can see with our limited vision that appeals to us most in the moment. We rush the process because we don't want to wait. We want the happy ending, but not the journey to get there.
I’m continually humbled as I venture down this road of trading fear for hope. I’m reminded how much I suck at it. I’m reminded how desperately I need God to intercede and give me the faith I can’t come up with. But he always shows up. It doesn't mean I won't suck again tomorrow, it just means when I do, he'll supply me with what I need all over again. Because fear is no match for the hope that he offers. Fear is a weak little sissy that God will trample if we sit back and let him; if we stop trying to do all the work, and start looking to him to take care of it for us. I'm confident that each day I return to HIM with my neediness, I (fear) am becoming less and he (hope) is becoming greater.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
-2 Corinthians 4: 16-18