This week a friend of mine wrote a blog about the fears she has been experiencing since having her first child. As I can only imagine, having a child introduces a whole new arena for trusting God, a prospect that actually terrifies me when I think about it. I mean, I get nervous just thinking about something bad happening to my dog! I can’t even imagine multiplying that fear by about a million when a baby arrives.
It sort of makes me laugh that I already have fears about a child that doesn’t even exist. But it also scares me. Can my heart really take that kind of anxiety? Am I going to be nervous ALL THE TIME? And what if something bad does happen to one of my kids? Will I be able to get through it? Will my marriage survive that kind of tragedy?
Of course, fears about the future are only a distraction from combatting the fears I have in the present. Of which there are many. Last year I spoke often with my accountability partner about fears for my husband’s safety. Every time he left to go somewhere, I would say, “Be safe!” It was my way of exercising control over the situation in the face of my deep fears about losing him. I think that because I had finally gotten married after a lot of my friends already had, there was a part of me that felt it was too good to be true. I’d been single for so long–would God really let me have this good thing? So my heart clung to Ike in an idolatrous way, seeking peace and security from my marital status.
However, reading my friend’s blog also opened my eyes to another fear that has been lurking in my heart for some time now but I haven’t really confronted it–my fears about writing. In previous posts I have alluded to how ugly the blogosphere can get. What’s more, Christian authors write books only to get torn apart by other Christians. It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned you are, how diligently you cover all your bases, or how earnestly you are seeking to honor God, someone out there is going to poke fun at you or criticize you.
And that prospect frightens me. There are times when I’ll post a blog and then feel nervous all day about how it’s going to be received. Will someone say something mean back? Will people stop reading my blog because they disagree with me? Will people think I’m too liberal or too conservative? As a result of this paranoia I’ll make my husband read the post about a hundred times, and then ask him a thousand times whether the post was good: “Are you sure? Are you SURE?”
Clearly, those fears betray my false saviors–the things I am trusting in instead of Jesus or the people I am seeking to please instead of God. After all, the reason I should be writing is for Christ, not other people. And while my husband is a wonderful gift, I was happy and complete in Christ long before I ever met him.
Yet how easily my heart shifts! Gradually and almost imperceptibly, my comforts, my blessings and my success steal my attention away from God. While I know that God is my rock and my refuge, I begin to take comfort in my pleasant circumstances instead of Him. And while I do desire to write for God’s glory, I slowly become a slave to the positive feedback I get from other people. Ever so slowly, I teach my soul to crave the rewards and gifts of this world, and I become terrified of the prospect of life without them. It’s a spiritual addiction.
Fortunately, fear helps to identify the addiction. Fear points directly at my soul’s dependence on something other than God. And how do I break the addiction? Here are 2 things that I try to do as I work through my own fears:
- Examine my fears for wisdom–Obviously, there are some fears in life that are healthy and keep us safe. You should be afraid of riding in a car without a seat belt. You should even have a healthy “fear” or respect for God (Proverbs 1:7). However, after examining the wisdom behind a fear and responding to it appropriately, do not stay in that place of fear. You should instead stand confidently in the knowledge that you are pursuing God and honoring Him the best that you can, and that God works all things together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Fear can be a tool that God uses to get your attention, but NEVER do anything because of fear. Your actions should only be driven by wisdom and confidence in God’s sovereignty.
- Examine my fears for truth–Most of the time my fears are based upon lies about God. I don’t believe that God is enough if I were to lose my husband (Jude 1:24). I don’t believe I can be satisfied by pleasing God alone (Psalm 119:47). I don’t believe that God created me just the way I am and that I am beautiful to Him (Psalm 139:13). In order to examine your fears effectively, you must know the standard of truth by which they are to be compared: Scripture. So there are two disciplines wrapped up in this practice: knowing the Word of God, and then analyzing your thought life against it. This is a habit that takes time to cultivate, but it is worth it! It will protect you from venturing down the unending path of “what ifs.”
Finally, I want you to know that if you are captive to fears, you are not alone. Satan, the “Father of Lies,” wants us to feel alone in our fears so that we are more vulnerable and more easily overpowered by them. But as soon as you can admit that you have fears and that it’s a normal part of being a human being, Satan loses that power over you and you can fight back. It’s something that I am certainly working on, but it’s part of living into your identity as a daughter of Christ who is free forever from the power of sin, death, and fear.