We’re talking about fear and trust this month here at Facets of Faith. Tracy and Jen have shared. Click on their names if you missed their posts. Next week we have a wonderful guest so be sure to come back! Today, it’s my (Kim’s) turn. I figure we can jump right in with a confession. That’s always a great way to start (she says, dripping with sarcasm).
I know, nothing like opening an article with baring my heart and soul with a confession, but here it goes.
Sometimes I’m afraid to embrace life. I’m not afraid to live – I honestly don’t have any control over how my heart beats or the rhythm of my breathing. I used to wonder about that during the early days of grief, those days following my daughter’s death.
I remember those earliest moments when all I could do was focus on my breathing – the almost annoying pressure I felt to take air in and breath it out. I didn’t consciously think about breathing, but I remember those moments when the physical act took all of my attention.
Grief is ugly and heavy and yet somehow beautiful. It exposes the deepest parts of our souls, the most tender, the most vulnerable, the most precious. The tears that flow, that trickle down my cheeks were evidence of the love I have for my sweet Emma, for the years we had together and all of the memories that would never take place.
Fear became my bedfellow in many ways and for many years but I learned that God is bigger, He is stronger, He is more powerful than my greatest nightmare, than the moment I buried my daughter.
I thought as years passed and God healed my heart that the fear would subside. That the weight of grief would lesson and somehow I would return to normal.
Normal is actually overrated and illusive, isn’t it? Because as the years marched on, the fear that gripped my heart began to morph into something I didn’t know, something I didn’t expect. As the fear that surrounded me after Emma died began to subside, its cousin took its place. A darker, more insidious bedfellow that poked and prodded and tried to steal away the peace that God had given to me.
The fear made its presence known when life seemed to be rolling along at a reasonable pace. When I thought I had this living-with-grief thing figured out. That’s when it would start to whisper.
You know it could happen again. You could lose Kelsey, your other daughter. What if something happen to her?
Anxiety would follow, reminding me of all I lost and the emotions I felt as the fire destroyed my home.
Did you turn the stove off? Are you sure the fire alarms work?
Anxiety then became action as I walked around and checked the alarms regardless of the fact that I knew full well they worked.
The whispers grew louder and a little more frequent as I started to try new things.
Are you really laughing right now? Don’t you remember what happened to your house? To your pets? To your daughter? To your marriage?
Fear tapped it’s neighbor, shame, on its shoulder and the two of them unleashed their power.
If you enjoy life, you’re going to forget her. It’ll be as if she never lived. Is that what you want?
The worry and anxiety tried to suffocate my faith. It felt stronger. It seemed stronger. But was it? Really?
As my feelings grew and my heart healed, I realized the emotions that had been numb suddenly felt as if the faucet turned full force and my soul didn’t know how to absorb it all. Fear’s fingers squeezed the tender shoot of life that had begun to grow.
Fear gripped me. It paralyzed me. And there were days I let fear win. I hid and remained silent. I went through the motions of life without really living. On the outside I looked normal, functioning, engaging with the world. But on the inside? Where life mattered? I felt shriveled, destined to live in the dark.
This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust Him.” Psalm 91:2
Then one day I began to hear a different whisper, one that I knew, that I recognized.
Come near, I am here.
I never left you.
I see you. I see your tears. I weep with you.
I am stronger.
I will protect you. I do protect you.
I love you. I delight in you.
I began to read my journals from those early days after Emma died and saw, through my own handwriting, the miraculous things that God had done. The peace that settled my heart. The joy when I sensed Him near. The truth that anchored my soul as it was tossed about by grief and loss.
I will never leave you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I am near. (Psalm 145:18)
I see you, your tears, your broken heart. (Psalm 56:8)
I am stronger. (Proverbs 18:10)
I am your protector. (Psalm 121)
I delight in you. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Those familiar words began to seep into my soul and snuff out the darkness. The light of His love shone into the hidden places and walled off spaces as I let His healing grace in. I learned God isn’t a bully, He won’t force His way in. But if we choose to trust Him, if we make the conscious decision to open our hearts and let Him in, He will fill us with a peace that truly passes all understanding and set an anchor for our soul through the craziest of storms.
So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6:18-19
I had to decide, once and for all, whether or not to believe God’s truth. I had to decide either He lied about everything, or His truth reigned over it all. Even over death. Even over loss. Even over fear.
I chose to believe.
I chose to believe that His Word is real and can guide me through my fear.
I chose to believe that He loves me, even when I fail.
I chose to believe that He delights in me simply because I’m His.
I chose to believe, once and for all, that He truly is bigger than my fear, and I don’t need to live as a ‘fraidy cat.
So now I’m beginning to embrace life in all of its messy gloriousness, and it is good.
How do you trust God in the face of fear?
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