I promised some thoughts on fear so here goes…
For me, fear and control go hand and hand (like peanut butter and jelly…great, now I’m hungry). Well, that’s all fine and dandy to recognize this – but what do I do about it.
I think a huge part is certainly what I talked about in my post yesterday; it requires knowing God. And I’ll admit ~ that is SO hard! Diligent Scripture reading, spending time in silence in order to (as my friend Sarah G. reminded me) hear the whisper of God, and embracing the Holy Spirit’s guidance and intervention are all ways to know God on an increasingly more intimate level. But for me, I continuously struggle with allowing the lack of His physical presence to be a persistent stumbling block in my attempts to place my trust entirely in Him (which translates to fear ~ which leads to control ~ you get the picture). And that’s simply reality for now because that’s faith, “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
So how can I fight the forces of fear when I know that faith will be an enduring challenge? One thing I’m going to experiment with is looking at the reality of my fear. If I allow fear to become that insurmountable wall in my life, I’m stuck on one side either constantly walking directly into the wall or trying desperately to climb (solo) over it and failing every time. But, what if I choose to look at fear differently, not giving it the power of being an undefeatable barricade? What if I actually transform fear into an obstacle I can overcome, thereby allowing myself the opportunity to play out in my head (and quite possibly in reality) the true consequence of climbing over that wall? Simply put, I allow myself to imagine what living out my worst fears would actually look like.
When I visualize letting go of control I think of those scenes in wilderness camps or cheesy team building exercises where a person is falling backwards into the waiting arms of several individuals, completely trusting that they will be caught before hitting the hard, unwelcoming floor below them. But what if they weren’t caught; what if they hit the floor? If it were me, I’d be pretty pissed. I might even be hurt quite badly. And yet, I don’t think I’d be angry forever and I don’t think I wouldn’t heal from my injuries.
So, that’s what I’m getting at. Taking fear to the next level. Instead of letting it become an insurmountable wall, actually climbing over the barrier and embracing fully what could be waiting on the other side. One of the items on my list was a desperate control of my dating life. (There is something to be said for the “anonymity” of the Internet because I can so easily tell myself no one is reading this!) What are the fears there: someone not liking me for me; having to be more vulnerable than I’m comfortable with; having to adjust an independent lifestyle that I’m quite content to keep just as it is; gulp, having to trust another person; have I mentioned I could go on and on with my lists? So, I let myself play out those fears, starting with staying single for the remainder of my numbered days on this planet Earth. And low and behold, while there will no doubt be times of frustration, loneliness, anger, bitterness, questioning, etc., etc., I WOULD survive. Now, please don’t assume I’m trying to justify or explain away a desire to avoid the emotions of not having it fulfilled. I’m just saying by really jumping headfirst into the fear, I can truly acknowledge that it wouldn’t envelop and paralyze me beyond a level I God is incapable of enduring.
And that is where I can begin to let go of the control. God will be there. He will always be there. But He will not promise that I don’t have to do something, go through a situation, deal with a harsh reality/emotion just because I don’t want to or don’t think that I can (see Luke 22:42-44). The imaginable outcome of your current fears may in fact one day become realities, or they might not. But attempting to control your circumstances by running head first into a titanium wall will only keep you locked in the chains of unfulfilled living.
Try it. Give yourself completely over to the fear. Terrifying? Yes. Uncertain? Absolutely. Conquerable? Well, with my God I am promised that anything is possible.