I don’t know about you, but I have spent a good chunk of my life scared and anxious. Will people accept me? Will I be understood? Will I have enough (money, food, time, resource, capacity, maturity… fill in the blank)? Will my kids make it? Will my marriage make it? How will (insert any given situation in which I am not totally in control–which is pretty much never) work out? How will this situation that I have tried to have total control over work out, considering I am a mess and usually make a ton of mistakes? What do I do with my dreams? What do I do about the fact that I am totally broken-hearted about the girls in ISIS territories and yet feel totally powerless to help them? What do I do with the power I do have?
You get the idea, most of the days, most of the weeks, all year round, ad infinitum. Its exhausting, taxing, has led to seasons of depression and ill-health and, lets be really real here, most of the mistakes–and then subsequent anxieties around their repercussions–center around my lack of ability to manage myself well in my fear. My choice to partner with control and fear in the face of pain produces anxiety and fear about how those I love will be affected by my choice to partner with control… Yea, sit on that one for a while. That pattern right there is a downward spiral of yuck and destruction that I hadn’t even noticed I was choosing on a daily basis. When I did, when that reality dawned on me, I pulled the emergency brake. Seriously. I am DONE with fear and anxiety and control. Done.
There are really only two choices to make in any one situation, will I respond out of fear or love. For example, impatience is basically control because of fear, “I have to do deal with this now to control how I (or the other person) will feel or react later.” Whereas patience says, “Right now we need some hugs and some security and waiting until our love tanks are full will mean that we are better able to learn from this situation and find a good and loving solution for it.” Fear looks like: distrust, self-protection, loneliness, self-reliance, co-dependency, escape, numbing, anger, toxic behaviour, control, manipulation and intimidation to name a few. Love looks like vulnerability, authenticity, courage, trust, acceptance, interdependence, being present, being honest, managing yourself, peace, hope and deep joy.
This choice of love over fear is not an easy one at all, not at all, and I do not write this post glibly. Everyone reading this, including me the author, have stacks of pain in our lives. Past pain, present pain, ongoing pain. My comments are in full awareness of the gravity and reality of each person’s individual pain. The reality of the choice between love and fear is that it is never made in the absence of pain and always requires a powerful choice in the midst of pain. And to make matters “worse”, choosing love is not guaranteed to have a good result, mostly because the commitment to love means a letting go of control of outcomes. To put it frankly, it is bloody hard work and something that I fall on my face in most days, multiple times a day. However, my line in the sand on fear and anxiety is a result of this one very real, life altering reality:
I have come to know, and trust, the absolute and irrefutable goodness of Father God and His complete and perfect love for us. He is not only the embodiment of love, He is love, and all who chose to live in love, live in God, and God lives in them. This is my paraphrase of 1 John 4:16 in the Bible and it is the rock on which I am setting my intention to chose love everyday.
Like I mentioned above, I fail at this daily, but no matter… I do not need to fear my mistakes because His grace is all I need. His power works best in my weakness (2 Corinithians 12:19), so in fact I can laugh at my screw ups and clean up my relational messes in a loving and powerful/responsible way because the truth is that this amazing Father God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him. Everything (Romans 8:28).
This is the good news really. That humanities immense screw ups have been paid for by the perfectly loving Son of God, as part of He and the Fathers plan to get us back in the family, back into a place of peace and relationship with God, with no fear of punishment or weakness or mistakes. It sounds insane and to many it seems foolish BUT I have come to know this message as the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18) and this is why I love Him and why actually I refuse to consciously partner with fear and anxiety anymore. It is for my freedom and the freedom and wellness of humanity that Jesus did what He did and I have come to believe with everything in me that the above truths are not only worth betting my life and reputation on but are the bedrock for sustainable, healthy, whole and happy relationships.
I care so deeply for the people in my life, and so, with grace my feet and faith my eyes, I walk through each day choosing to trust that each of us is worthy of love, that mine and their sins have been covered and that mine and their mistakes are being perfectly worked into the Father’s master plan for the good of all who love Him. I totally think this is what David meant when he wrote in Psalm 18, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and lets me stand on heights high above my fears… He makes the path broad beneath my feet, so my ankles don’t turn and ruin me,” and this is totally why His praise will ever be on my lips. How can I hold onto fear and anxiety in the face of such utter goodness, how can my response be anything other than gratitude and happy partnership in this undeserved kindess?!
I would LOVE thoughts, ideas, comments and (kindly worded) objections!
Happy Thursday Y’all,