Sometimes I am afraid. Sometimes people have a lot of sympathy or empathy for my fear. They agree the next item on the agenda of things God is asking me to do is scary. It makes me feel better when others think my fear has legitimacy.
As I write this, I am realizing how fear is almost something I make up. I am not sure how to describe what I am thinking, but my fear almost seems to be a way of thinking. It all has to do with where my focus is. Initially it is stimulated by my environment. Then it is up to me whether I nurture it or choose to focus on truth.
Over the course of the past week I have recognized many illegitimate triggers for fear. In other words, things that if I had a Christ-centered mindset, I would not be afraid of. Taken to the extreme, I suppose I would be afraid of nothing if I was fully focused on Christ. After all God is love, and perfect love casts out fear.
I have considered I should be afraid of things that can actually hurt me. Like:
A tiger chasing me
Putting my hand in a boiling pot of water
Being held up at gun point
Other things just like those things
I have also come to realize there are many things I am afraid of which I should not fear.
I don’t know if you know what step nine is, but it can be challenging especially if one tries to skip steps six through eight before completing step nine. Step nine is when we “make amends”. This can be apologizing to someone or forgiving someone. It can also include conversations which Jesus describes in Matthew 18, “When your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault…” Steps six through eight prepare us on the inside for these conversations. When we take step nine, we want the conversation to be true and genuine because we have genuinely allowed God to change us from the inside out. We want to want to make the necessary changes in our lives. We don’t want to make them to follow a “law” we have created.
I have been experiencing some fear over an upcoming “step nine” conversation. This past week I have realized it is entirely illegitimate fear. Now what I fear might actually happen, but what I fear isn’t actually bad. In this case, what I was fearing is actually really, really good for me.
I am afraid of being humbled.
All the fear I am experiencing is rooted in wanting to protect myself from being seen. I don’t want the other people involved to see my broken parts. Even focusing on theirs scares me because then I have to admit I was vulnerable enough in the relationship to be hurt. I have allowed myself to be known and loved, and so I have been wounded.
Oddly enough, I am also afraid of reconciliation and healing. Maybe because it is unknown and I don’t know what it will be like. I don’t know what life will look like on the other side of forgiveness. Maybe because I will no longer be able to focus on the lies I have been telling myself. I will have to face truth.
Honestly, my pride has always wanted to keep me from healing. It has isolated me. It has whispered in my ear that no one will understand. It has convinced me I am alone and it would be better to never be known than risk love.
These past few years, I have been experiencing God’s love really does cast out fear. But sometimes I am still afraid of the wrong things.
My fear is always based on lies. It is never based on truth.
I am not sure why, but I am quite sure I am afraid of people finding me lovable. That even when they see my ugliest side, they will not condemn but accept me in spite of my brokenness. If His followers do this, it will be so hard to keep pushing them and God away.
I am remembering that condemnation and disgust are nearly synonymous. God is not disgusted by me. It always blows my mind when His followers who surround me aren’t disgusted either.
Maybe you are thinking, “Laura, there are some Christians who are pretty disgusted by me.” Me, too; but I am coming to recognize their disgust and condemnation of my brokenness doesn’t reflect God or His image.
There must be no greater proof God exists and He is love than when His followers don’t condemn me. When they don’t base their hope for my future on my past. When they don’t hold any of my sins against me. When they don’t say, “Hey, Laura, remember how you…?”
I love how it says in Romans that God doesn’t keep score with those who are “in Christ”. He isn’t in heaven busily making a list of things I have done wrong. When I come to Him crying, He never reminds me of what I did yesterday.
He knows what I did yesterday hurts, but He doesn’t throw it in my face. He lovingly promises to redeem it. He says nothing is wasted. It blows my mind.
Pride must be the single most powerful force in keeping me from God. Pride tells me to be afraid of His goodness, mercy, love and healing. Pride even has the audacity to scare me when I begin living a powerful life. I remember when I first started to spend adequate time with God and became afraid of the powerful positive changes in my life. Pride wanted me to stop. Pride is always busily whispering that I don’t need Him as much as it appears. I could do without Him if I really tried.
Pride destroys my life, and it always lies about what I should fear.
What do you fear? In which ways does pride hold you back from experiencing the abundant life He has promised to His disciples?