Fear

By nature, I have always been a fearful person. As a little girl, when I would go to my friend Rhonda’s house I would think about terrible things happening back home. It almost always took the form of a fire. It would scare me so badly that I’d call my mom to come get me. Relief would set in as my irate mother drove up in our red Econoline van, while Rhonda sat in her bedroom crying because I was leaving. Eventually my mom stopped letting me go until I was “old enough to be away from home.”

As I got older, my fears expanded. Due to unfortunate viewings of “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Gremlins”, “Critters”, and “Child’s Play”, in order to get to my bed at night I would get a running start and leap in to my bed from several feet away (the creatures, after all, lived under the bed). It probably wasn’t several feet…probably only several inches, but there was leaping, lots of leaping. Upon landing in my bed I would immediately cover my head with my covers (the creatures, after all,  couldn’t break the force field my blankets created) and begin to pray that God wouldn’t let them get me. Eventually, the rigidness in my body would subside and the covers would slowly come down…they also came down because I had a fear of suffocating.

My mom had this huge black and white picture of her great-great-great (not too sure how many greats are in there) grandfather in our house. It hung at the end of the hallway that led to the bedrooms. He hung there, staring at me, taunting me as a child. In my mind he was the leader of all the “bad” guys…the ones mentioned above as well as Dracula, the Wolfman , and Frankenstein. I would dream that he – The Grandfather – would have meetings with all these infamous spooky, scary guys and devise plans to “get” me. Looking back, I reckon I was also highly imaginative as well as highly fearful…now some of the things Gingernut says are starting to make sense to me….

The closet in my room….don’t get me started on that one.

My parents had no idea that I had seen such movies. I think my  mom clued in that something was going on when I began to continually beg her to move the picture of The Grandfather. I came home from college one day and it was moved. Thanks, Mom. But you were only about 12 years too late.

As I grew into an adult, my fears were less of the boogie men out to get me and more of being alone. The summer after my freshman year the guy I’d been seeing for the last year broke up with me. To say it devastated me is an understatement. It took a long time to let go because I was afraid. I was afraid of never being loved. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of what life what look like if I did move on. Fear kept me depressed for almost two years. Fear kept my heart from healing. Fear kept me from seeing the one who truly loves me even if no one else ever did. What a waste of two years due to fear.

As I entered my mid-twenties, my fear began to be shaped not by boogie men or being alone but again, by bad things happening to people I cared about. That fear never really left me. It followed, always lurking in the shadows waiting for the boogie men to finish with their turn. This fear kept me up at night, it caused worry and stress, hysterical crying, and anxiety.

A pivotal moment that proved to be the turning point in my fear came about 4 years ago. Paul and I were in Naples., and he had left to go somewhere for a day or two. I was alone, and fear began to creep its ugly head into my thoughts. “What if he doesn’t come back?” “How would I get his body home?” “Who would the pallbearers be at the funeral?” “Should I call my parents or his first?” On and on it went. It was awful.

 At some point I was sitting in our bedroom on the navy bedspread that covered our bed, reading my bible. For some reason that day I was reading Psalm 34. The entire psalm calmed me, bringing me deeper into the arms of God, but verse four…verse four was a game changer.

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; and he delivered me from all my fears.”

At that moment I finally understood that I did not have to be afraid. Fear did not have to dominate…to win. It wasn’t that he would deliver me from my fears that struck me but that he would care enough to answer when I came to Him with those fears. What sweet, beautiful knowledge! To know that when I seek Him (in some versions it says “cry out to”) he will answer me. And my fears….they will no longer enslave me.

The phrase “do not fear” appears at least 58 times in the Bible. Christ has not given me a spirit of fear…not of anything. How often do we allow fear to cripple us? To keep us holed up in our tiny cocoons never experiencing life the way our Creator intended us to experience it, never living the way He has called us to live?

Fear had crippled me for long enough. In that tiny bedroom on a sunny day, I feel deeper into the arms of God, in the knowledge of Him who had saved me and I was changed. And while I still have to say Psalm 34:4 again and again, I know that I am no longer a slave to that fear. I am no longer its captive. I have been delivered from its clutches by Almighty God who answers me when I cry out to Him. And life is a much freer place.

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