That was the word God gave me at the start of this year.
I had all of these ideas of what I thought God was going to do this year to make me fearless but I quickly realized I had no clue what I was in for. I’ve been surprised by the direction God has taken me the last twelve months and have been blessed through the journey in so many ways that I thought I would share.
Over the course of the year I encountered many fears. I experienced the fear of serious illness with my daughter, the fear of driving after having 3 accidents in 4 weeks, the fear of spiders, the fear of swimming, the fear of judgement, the fear of rejection, and the hardest one is the fear of being loved.
I cannot say that I conquered all of my fears but I can say that I learned a lot about them and that they don’t have the same power to control me like they did previously. I originally thought that by some miracle God was going to give me the strength to face my fears, but that was not the case. My fears were all still there…..but what God did do was reveal to me truths about what I feared and why I feared it. He then reminded me of his truth that gave me the strength I needed to face those fears. God then gave me opportunities to walk out what he was teaching me by placing me in situations that allowed me to choose courage over paralyzing fear.
I learned that fear reveals what I value or feel that I need. For example the fear of illness would show that I value my health or the fear of rejection shows that I value being accepted. The fear of failure reveals my desire for perfection and so on.
My fear can also tell me how much or how little I trust God. Scripture tells us that we are to fear God and only God. When I allow myself to fear other things I am doing one of two things. I am either valuing whatever it is I fear losing more than I value God or I am essentially telling God I don’t trust you to provide what I need.
So all of this brought up some questions…….
Is it wrong to value health, acceptance and perfection?
During the course of the year I learned that perhaps it’s how much I fear. Fear can be healthy and keep me from harm. For example the fear of being sick makes me wash my hands, but if the fear of being sick keeps me from ever leaving my house then I wouldn’t be trusting God. This concept works for some fears that can be explained but what about the fears that can’t be explained?
There are real fears that can be logically explained and are generally accepted by other people. Then there are fears that aren’t logical that can’t be explained. I learned that just because it can’t be explained doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be listened to for example..
I faced a fear this year by agreeing to meet with someone who claimed that they just wanted to meet with me to get to know me better. I was unsettled about the meeting and I didn’t understand why. So I prayed……and right before I walked into the meeting God reminded me of Ps91.
The meeting turned out to be an attack and I was face to face with the very real fear of judgement from church leadership and the rejection of a community of people who were supposed to love me as Christ loves us. I chose courage that day! I didn’t run out the door in shame. I asked what my sin was. What was the reason behind their decision to tell me that I was no longer allowed to participate in any of their church events on or off of their property? I was told that I was making bad choices….the example I was given was that I sat in the wrong row on Sunday morning, I had a divisive spirit but couldn’t tell me what made me divisive and had a habit of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I started to defend myself and then I remembered Ps91 and stopped. I chose courage and surrendered the battle to God.
I then asked if this meant that no one at the church wanted to be my friend. I was told that everyone loved me and that they were praying for me. That leaving is the best thing for me and that they would be praying that there was another church somewhere in town that I could belong to. I wanted to run before they could see me cry but instead I chose courage!
I sat there and didn’t just cry I sobbed and when they tried to touch me I asked them not to. When they asked me to leave I didn’t. I chose courage!
The courage to feel the pain and courage to let them see the pain they had inflicted upon me. They crushed my heart in the name of God as if he willed what they were doing to me. As they prayed for me to know who I was in Christ I was praying that God would reveal his truth to them. I knew who I was in Christ and I didn’t need to be reminded. I knew that the God I knew was not standing in agreement with what they were doing. God’s heart was breaking with mine and while every thought of who they thought I was flashed through my mind attacking my soul, I was reminded of a vision I had back in 2012. In my vision I was being attacked by evil spirits and every time they came at me there was something behind me guiding me in how to swing my sword. The experience was effortless and I had no fear. So I reached for my sword and the let Spirit of God guide me through each attack in my mind. When I was finished I did get up and leave but I didn’t get in my car. I chose courage!
I called a friend who came and I shared what happened. Shame and fear would’ve kept me from telling anyone at all. I then chose courage by allowing her to follow me home to make sure I made it there safely. I allowed her to love me.
Hiding my pain from those who have hurt me only serves my pride and enables them to walk away without guilt and the notion that they are doing the right thing. I have not returned to that church because the fear is real and I have no desire to be attacked again. This is a healthy fear that I need to listen to. I don’t need to be right in their eyes……I only have to respond in love and when the flesh is crying for justice sometimes the courageous response is to run away and let God take care of them.
Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I had listened to my fear and refused to meet with them. I may not have been attacked that day but that doesn’t mean something wouldn’t have happened eventually. I don’t regret going or see my decisions as a mistake, I see it growing my faith because I saw God there with me. He was giving me what I needed in that moment even if I didn’t see it until later.
So another lesson I’ve learned is that even if there is a fear that can’t be logically explained it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t run from it. God will allow me to feel fear to keep me from a dangerous situation that I may not have any knowledge of. I don’t have to know what the danger is I only have to trust God when I feel that fear in my spirit.
As this year comes to an end I know that I am not a pro at dealing with fear but I can say that I am better than I was a year ago. I’ve returned to running where I feel the safest and logically makes sense and I don’t avoid doing things simply because I fear what other people may or may not think of me. I have more confidence in my ability in knowing when to run and when to face my fears. I am proud of the growth I have made regardless of what everyone else sees and that is all that matters. So as I was looking to next year and contemplate what my word for the year will be one came to my mind…..surrender. Not to be confused with giving up. Then I asked a close friend what she thought my word for the year should be and she said Trust. Someone else said relentless. And I’ve been thinking about how I have not returned to church anywhere and have no plans to look anymore. I am surrendering that to God. I am trusting him to bring people into my life who will invite me into their church community because they want me there not because I’m searching for something that I think I need. Surrender comes when I trust so maybe it should be two words RELENTLESS TRUST because in order to surrender I will have to relentlessly trust over and over again.