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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

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Be still, my soul. The Lord is on your side. 

Be. Still. Be STILL. Don’t run, don’t hide, don’t curl up in the fetal position. Be STILL. Relax. Rest.

The Lord is on your side. YOUR side. The LORD. The God of the universe, who controls every atom and every galaxy, each dost mote and every star. He’s on your side. He’s not going to leave you. He won’t suddenly decide to revoke friendship or drift out of your grasp. He is on YOUR side. He is for you, never against. He is more zealous for your joy than you could ever be. Trust Him. 

Be still, my soul. Don’t fret over the painful things that have happened this week, or last week, or last year. Yes, cry. Grieve. But don’t worry. Don’t dwell. Don’t worry about the unknown future stretching out before you. Leave to your God to order and provide. Let the God who unrolls the past, present, and future of the world like a scroll arrange your present and future, just as He has the past. Has he ever let you go without? Has he ever not made things work? Has he ever left you alone? No, never. And He won’t start now. In every change, He faithful will remain. 

He is faithful. Trust Him. Be. Still. 

 

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Cor 5:7

I’ve always liked this verse – Perhaps because I’ve never been able to live it.

As much as I don’t want to admit that it’s true, I know that it is: I live my most of my life in fear.

Even as a child, I hated the grip that fear had on me. When I was in junior high, I decided that I was going to conquer one of my biggest fears – heights. I signed up for a week long summer camp that revolved around heights. Literally. A week of high-ropes courses, rock climbing, zip-lining, and other stomach-churning activities. I thought if I could just show “knuckle-down” and “man-up,” I’d be able to walk away cured of my fear. Fool-proof plan, right?

It didn’t work.

Of course, I did make it through the week. I did all of the activities we were supposed to, and only wet my pants once or twice. But I walked away, still afraid of heights. To this day, being more than 6 feet up makes my head spin and my stomach churn. I couldn’t conquer my fear of heights, and I don’t think I ever will.

Even though I know that didn’t work, I keep thinking that if I just try harder, I won’t be so scared anymore. I keep swallowing my fear, and forging ahead, thinking that doing one more “brave” thing will make it go away. But every morning, I wake up, roll over, and find that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach again.

I’m so sick of living in fear. It clouds my days, robs my joy, and strips my faith. It flys in the face of all that I say I believe.

I don’t think I’d ever realized how ruled by fear I am until this season of my life, when so much seems to be shifting under my feet. I’ve moved out on my own, started a new job, have begun applying for my next job, and am planning my marriage. The questions are unending:

Where will we live? How will I ever save enough? How will we pay for X (our honeymoon, an apartment, a mattress, my medical bills, etc.)? What will we do? Should we go into full-time missions work? Where will the money come from if we do? Will we make it? Will our marriage last? Am I doing the right thing?

They pile up around me, burying me, until I’m drowning in my own paralyzing fear. I choke, cough, splutter. Whisper tiny cries for help. It takes everything in me not to give in, pack it all up, and head for the hills. And in this metaphor, the hills are a stable, stationary job with a reliable paycheck and a life devoid of relationships that might be painful or fail. It seems easier than looking at my trembling face in the mirror every morning, and wishing there was a braver soul looking back at me.

I’ve been doing everything in my power, especially these past few months, to ignore the fear I feel inside of me. I didn’t know what else to do. This morning, though, my pastor said something that really struck me. While preaching on Luke 1, in which Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive Jesus, he said this; “If you want to truly follow Christ, you have to realize you won’t have your questions answered before you say ‘Yes, Lord.'”

I won’t have my questions answered before I say “Yes, Lord.” I will say yes, and most likely be swimming in a sea of questions. But just because I have questions, doesn’t mean I’m not walking in faith. In fact, saying “Yes” in the face of those questions is the very definition of faith. I won’t be walking in perfect faith all the time, but I don’t have to live in fear either.

Like Mary, I will say “Yes, Lord,” when he calls. I will wake up every morning, and look at my trembling face, feel my heart shaking with fear, and remind myself, “You walk by faith, not by sight.” I will fear my deep, paralyzing fear, and cry out to the God who emboldens my heart and strengthens my soul. And He will not disappoint.

My name is Emily. I live my life tempted to fear. But I have the power of the living God inside of me, and I will choose to do what I’m called to, even when I’m scared. I don’t know what this means for me yet, but I’m sure I’ll learn.

“….for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

I’m not quite sure what I want to say in this blog post, so I apologize if it comes off as less than eloquent.

Obviously, the biggest thing in my life right now is raising my financial support to join staff with Cru as an intern. It consumes my days and looms over my head at night as I try to sleep.

Most days I don’t feel cut-out for this. I’m a natural worrier. I’m a planner, a go-getter. I like to pack for vacations days ahead of time. I like contingency plans and sealed-deals and fail-safes. Support raising is the most worrying process I’ve ever been in, and there is no room for sealed-deals and fail-safes.

I’ve really struggled to keep my mind and my heart in the right place through this summer. It’s so tempting for me to put all my hopes in a particular contact, only to be so disappointed or have my feelings hurt when they don’t react the way I think they will. It’s even more tempting for me to get so wrapped up in the deadlines I’m not meeting and goals I’m not making, and end up sitting in front of an Excel spreadsheet weeping out of fear and worry.

Sometimes, I want to quit, but the solemn vow I made to God 2 and 1/2 years ago to do whatever the Lord asked, whenever He asked, keeps me from leaving. But then my sinful heart grows sour and bitter, and I echo the Israelites in Exodus 14, translating their complaint into my own words, saying “Why have you brought me here?! It would have been better for me to work at some miserable advertising agency than to fail at this process.” [Exodus 14:12]

There’s really only one solution for all of this, and it’s very simple. Turn my face towards Him, set my eyes straight ahead, and not look back.

“When I fix my eyes on all that You are, every doubt I feel deep in my heart grows strangely dim.”

As everyone ramps up to head back to school, and college freshmen get ready to pack mom’s minivan and head off college, newspapers and websites are all publishing their obligatory “college advice” articles. As an incoming freshmen to Ohio University 3 years ago, I read all of those articles that I could. I wanted to be ready.

The thing is, all of those articles seemed to say the same things. “Don’t buy your books.” “Make sure you study.” “Join a club, make sure to exercise!”  All good advice, to be sure. But they didn’t prepare me. In fact, there are several core things that  no one told me about college. So, of course, here it comes – The 5 things no one tells you about college

1. It’s really hard to have your heart in two places.

As excited as I was as a college freshmen, nothing prepared me for just how completely I would fall in love with my new home of Athens, Ohio. Over the three years that I’ve been there, it has grown to be my home. My friends are there. My bedroom is there. My stuff is there. I have tons of memories, favorite haunts, favored coffee shops and delis. In so many ways, my heart is embedded in those places. But, just the same – I spent 18 years growing up in Dayton, Ohio. My childhood home is there. My parents are there. My dogs are there. Old memories, old haunts, other favored shops and eateries. My heart is divided, and it’s really hard. When I’m in Dayton, I miss Athens. When I’m in Athens, I miss Dayton. It can be hard to split your world between two different cities. So be prepared.

2. You’ll be a nomad.

#2 essentially goes along with #1 in some ways. Because your heart and life is in two cities, you’ll constantly be traveling back and forth between them. Important events and people are in both cities. It’s inevitable that you’ll need to travel. But even beyond that, you become a sort of nomad, roaming from place to place to see people, go on trips, etc. For example, this summer, there will be 10 total weekends. At the end of it all, I will have been home for approximately 3 of them. Between moving in and out, weddings, parties, bridal showers, visiting friends, and vacations, I’m rarely home. Even at school, it seems every weekend I’m either going home, going to Columbus, going on a retreat. I’m always in the car, going somewhere. And while I love seeing friends, I hate living out of a suitcase But it’s inevitable. So buy an air mattress (college friends are too poor to have beds for you to sleep on!) and invest in a good suitcase. Eventually, you’ll settle down (or so I’ve heard.)

3. You’ll often panic, and feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

In high school, things were relatively simple. You did teenager things, and your parents handled the big stuff like bills, budgets, car repairs, and grocery shopping. But now, all of the sudden, it’s up to you. It starts the moment your parents walk out of your dorm room and leave you to run your own life. People don’t blink twice when handing you the lease to an apartment to sign, or telling you to drive the company car to pick up supplies from Walmart (true story, had to drive the company minivan in the summer 2010 and felt like I was going to die). You’re an adult. And that’s weird. When I signed the papers and was handed my first credit card this past spring, I wanted to run back into the bank and scream “WAIT! WAIT! Are you sure I can have this? I don’t know what I’m doing!” It’s strange how overwhelming grocery shopping can be when realize that you’re going to need to buy more than Oreos and Nutella. And I wish I could say that it gets better, but from what I’ve heard, it really doesn’t. Soon, you’re gonna find yourself getting a career, getting married, and having a baby. And the whole time the refrain in the back of your head will sound something like “WAIT! WAIT! Are you sure I can have this? I don’t know what I’m doing!” But you’re an adult now! So take the keys, take the car (or the husband or the baby or whatever) and start moving – life is all about learning on the job!

4. You’ll make the best friends of your entire life – only to see them all scatter after graduation.

The first few weeks of college are hard, and awkward. You don’t have those friends you’ve known since preschool anymore. People are different. Everyone’s trying to adjust. But slowly, as the year goes on, you meet people like you. You start hanging out, getting lunch, going uptown. And, somewhere in it all, you become best friends. You spend the next 4 years spending pretty much your entire life with these people. You live with them, take classes with them, work with them, date them, love them. They become the best friends you’ve ever known, and they have a good chunk of your heart and soul.
And then, one day, you graduate. And everyone gets married, gets jobs, and moves to whatever city their new employer is in. Sometimes it’s just the next city over, and sometimes it’s another continent. Yes, you can visit and Skype and text and whatever, but it’s still really hard – it just isn’t the same.
I don’t say this to discourage people from making friends. By all means, make these friends – like I said, they’re the best you’ll probably ever know! But, be aware. There will be a day that college ends. So treasure your friendships. Someday, they won’t live in the dorm room next door.

5.The future becomes super-real, super-fast – and it’s terrifying.

Throughout your whole life, people have been asking you, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Even in high school, you answer with an, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe a scientist, or a hairdresser…” It all seems so vague and far away. It doesn’t seem to matter much if you don’t know. But then, one day (and it comes at different points for everyone) it hits you. The “real world” is coming, and it’s coming FAST. People keep asking you that stupid question, “What do you want do when you graduate?” (Because, news flash, you already are grown up [AAAAH!], and now you’re just waiting to get a piece of paper to confirm that you’re competent to actually work for a living.)
People keep asking me that and all I can think is, “Umm. I want to be able to buy groceries. And pay rent.” And that’s really about the extent of what I know! I have NO IDEA what I want to do for the rest of my life!!!! And like I outline in #3, I don’t really feel ready for any of this. Living on my own? A job? Marriage? Babies? When did I go from not being responsible enough to have my own dog to being allowed to have an infant?
When the future changes from a “someday” into a “now,” well, it’s terrifying.

So that’s my list. 5 things that no one tells you about college. Now that I’ve sufficiently scared you, here’s the last thing I have to say. It will be among the best 4 years of your life. Really, for all of the scary and the bad, it really is great. I won’t lie, it’s gonna be really hard. You’re gonna struggle. You’re gonna cry. You’re gonna have days that make you want to quit. But it’s so worth it. So live up every minute of it. It goes by faster than you know.

Also… GO BOBCATS!

I wanted to make a post about going to Canton to see my friends, but this came out instead.  Maybe next time I’ll update you all about Canton, my new job, and other such summer happenings.  Until then, I hope this makes some sort of sense.

Something that I’m really learning right now, is that often, we are spiritually blind.  Like small children with no sense about what is truly good for them, we walk into danger thinking it’s safe, and run from what is safe thinking it’s danger.

I saw this acted out today in my new job as a camp counselor.  Walking with 10 five year olds, it was hard to usher them from outside back into the safety of the gym when the wind suddenly picked up and the sky turned an ominous black.  The thunder rolled in the distance, and lightening flashed as the storm moved closer.  But it wasn’t raining yet! They wanted to play!  I could hardly convince them that it was dangerous, and that to play outside then risked getting seriously hurt.

Later in the day, when the storm had passed, we took them to the creek to play.  Many of them stood on the shore, toes barely in the water, afraid of “getting pinched by crabs”.  Even though there was no danger, I could not get them to come into the creek to play.  They were too afraid.

Aren’t we like that a lot?  Convinced that the path to death is life, and afraid to walk where Jesus asks us, convinced that the path to life is death.  I know I’m like that.  Kicking and screaming in fear as Jesus leads me where I do not want to go – scary vulnerability in relationships, witnessing to my friends, even, well, sending me home for the summer.

This is when keeping my mind filled with Scripture (the reading of which has become an exercise in the discipline of force feeding  to keep my spirit nourished, a topic for another day) comes in.

I must remember that the way to life is always where Jesus is, even if to me, it looks like death. “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those that find it are few” (Matt 7:14)

I must remember that when I feel like my life is slipping away, I am finding my new life in Christ – “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:39)

I must remember that Christ commanded me to pick up my cross and follow him.  Of course this feels like the path to death – I am told to carry the instrument of my death, to my death. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

But I know that these things lead to life, and for that matter, perfect life eternal.  This is not my true home, just a temporary place. For “my citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20).  And I look forward to the day when I will get that life, when Jesus comes back or calls me home.

Until then, I live this life.  A painful life, a difficult life.  But my life – redeemed by Christ and lived for the joy of his glory.  Yup.  This is my life.  And I kinda like it. 🙂

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Past Musings