Fear can strangle us from the inside out its insidious limbs wrapping around and around us like an octopus strangling its prey. At one point in my life, fear had such a hold on me that at 18 years old I was unable to sleep alone in my bedroom or walk unwatched down the path from my front door to my car.
Fear had narrowed my life, hemmed me in, and smothered me in the darkness of its lies.
I had very real reasons to fear. My physical safety had been threatened. I had recently gotten a restraining order against someone I had been in an abusive dating relationship with for two years. I needed to act wisely, but I did not need to succumb to the lies that fear told me, that I was powerless and would always have to hide and live in shame.
I remember clearly the night my Mom came out to the living room, the only place I felt safe enough to allow myself to sleep. She held in her hands her worn, pink Bible. She sat down and began to talk to me of Truth, of how I did not need to remain captive to the darkness of my fears, but could trust in God to meet me there and to bring His light into my darkness.
She read Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
We prayed together and that night, falling asleep with the name of Jesus on my lips, I was able to sleep in my own bed the whole night through.
Victory triumphed over fear; light shined in my darkness.
Over the years, God has been relentless in bringing me face to face with my fears.
Like any bride, I entered my marriage with a heart full of joy and hope, and hopefully unlike most brides, I also carried in my heart a deep-rooted fear, born out of the pain of divorce in my family. I was afraid that my husband would one day leave me, that my marriage would simply not work, that I could not trust in the integrity and faithfulness of the man who had pledged his life to me.
Two years into our marriage, my husband was clearly led to begin graduate studies in California, while we decided that I would stay in Wisconsin for six more months to finish an important job commitment. The time we spent apart was difficult on many levels. The hardest part was that I had to face my fears head on. As I walked through those six months, I began to trust God and my husband in new ways. By trusting God, I began to live a life of freedom, and not fear.
Eight years later, I drew deep from the well of lessons learned during that time of trusting when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for ten months. I did not know what the outcome of those ten months would be, but I did know that I could trust God no matter what.
Different fears plague me these days, fears that have less to do with circumstances and more to do with what people think of me. God is calling me out on the waters of trust in new ways as I take more seriously my dream of writing my story. I have heard His call and have stepped out of the boat. When I focus my eyes on Him, I find the waters holding. But like Peter, my tendency is toward fear.
What if my writing doesn’t connect with anyone?
What if I am just not good at this?
I don’t write like so and so, should I really add my voice to the mix?
Is this all a waste of time?
Focusing on those questions brings the darkness of fear and doubt. There have been days these past few months when I have listened long to those questions and have felt myself falling into the waters of fear.
Thanks be to God, His arm is strong to lift me up out of the waters of fear onto the firm ground of His love, grace and truth.