I’m scared. Not every second of every day. But more seconds than I was a month ago. And I have decided that for right now, that is okay. I am granting myself the same grace and kindness that I would extend to anyone else who admitted their fear to me. It just happens to be me, myself and I this time.
I am not living in fear. But I am living with fear. It is nearby. Just outside my back door threatening to envelop me before my foot even steps out of the safety of my home. I can feel it in the air. And in the pit of my stomach. The scent of danger to my family is stronger on the deck. Inside, the smell of fear has taken the form of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and banana muffins. But out here, the same comfort is harder to find.
And I know that is a paradox. God is with us wherever we are, wherever we go. His Spirit is within me always. Inside. Outside. Upside down. Which is why I am living with fear, and not in fear.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
I’ve heard this scripture many times over the last few weeks. As a quiet person who often finds it challenging to express myself with spoken words, it has been a verse I have regularly relied upon and mumbled under my breath to provide me the courage to use my vocal cords – For God has not given me a spirit of timidity, but of power. I have been guilty of skipping over the other part of the message.
But now ……. I receive these words in their totality. I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be anxious. Peace is available to untangle and ease my troubled thoughts. God has not given me a spirit of fear.
However, God has given me emotions. He created feelings. And called them good. All of them, even the ones we humans label not good such as anger, discouragement, fear. In fact, in Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” God designed human feelings and emotions so that we could fully experience life. The problem isn’t in the emotion itself, it is in what we do or don’t do with it.
God knows that I’m scared. He knows that I’m anxious. God knows that I function best with routine and schedules and am grieving my loss of security and certainty. He did not design my personality to thrive with adventure and spontaneity. The best thing I can do is admit to God what He already knows. He can handle it. Denial of my feelings is unhelpful. Suppressing and minimizing my emotions is unhealthy. Attempted secrecy and withholding part of my heart from God is harmful. Invalidating my feelings hurts me, and it hurts God.
Practicing gratitude, and loving, caring for and serving others is an important part of emotional, mental and spiritual health. At all times. Reaching out and connecting with others in their time of need heals and restores me as much as the recipient. It brings me closer to God’s will – that I become more and more like Jesus.
I don’t believe I can become more like Jesus if I keep a piece of my heart to myself. I don’t think it is possible to love my neighbour with God’s love without first loving myself. What that means to me is that it is okay, no, it is important, to acknowledge when I am scared. And then to tell God, take hold of His hand, and walk freely out my door.
Thank you. I still remember when I was already an adult and I heard another day care staff member tell a child, “It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to hit people.” That was a bit of a revelation for me. I repeated those sentences a few times to myself. Huh! It’s okay to be angry. Or scared, disappointed, upset. It makes sense, but sometimes we need to keep assuring ourselves of that. Also, taking those emotions to God, as you talk about, is a great way to deal with them.
Thanks Cindy! Powerful words of encouragement. I appreciated how you differentiated between living IN and living WITH fear. We all have emotions! So thankful God is in control when we are not.
Just found this! You are so eloquent! I love the way you brought out the huge difference between “with” and “in”. It’s like when you are “in” something, it can consume you. When you are “with”,it’s there beside you but you can set it aside,walk away, take a break maybe. Just my rambling thoughts. Lol.
Such a timely word for such a time as this!