Recently I was confronted with a new situation. Well it wasn't completely new because the older you get, the more things cycle around. The opportunity was new, but the load of negative emotions that followed wasn't. Picture this unfortunate vehicle caravan - a shiny new car glistening in the sun, and towing a Jed Clampett-like trailer piled high with rusted junk, items that had certainly outlived their time. Pretty sad, to be honest, and the primary emotion in tow? Fear.
This was a classic case of mixed emotions. On one hand the challenge was fresh relief from a drought, a long chunk of time filled with The Whys. Why wasn't a particular good thing coming my way? I do have rights as a child of God, don't I? Yes I know it's wisdom to wait for the right time, and I certainly cannot comprehend the celestial time-keeping upstairs. But really (speaking heavenward), hadn't I learned some valuable lesson from my trial yet? The wait was getting so old that the hopes-raised/hopes-dashed wave was getting flatter and flatter, like ripples in a pond that quietly disappear.
And with this "calm" came a certain complacency. No pain, no gain. And no stress, like an over-medicated patient. But not facing fear doesn't make it go away. It just postpones the inevitable confrontation.
Yes the other side of this was fear, that rusty old nemesis who had tortured me in the past. I instinctively started the tap dance of excuses, why I couldn't do this. Outwardly I rationalized everything in a logical manner. Inside, I knew the ramifications of "put up or shut up". Was it fear of failure or its equally evil twin, fear of success? Likely both. I felt like a pimpled 16 again, trying to put a cohesive sentence together to ask the girl to the prom.
What do we do when fear attacks? 1st John 4:18 tells us, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." Perfected in LOVE. In prior situations where I felt betrayed by others, I didn't feel safe, and I certainly didn't show love either. But I realized that maybe I had learned a few things during my desert time. I am better at giving and receiving love now.
I asked someone who I know loves me for their perspective. They pointed out some things that helped me process. And I went to the Lord and asked Him too. He said, "Just lean into me. You're safe here." I felt a renewed sense of confidence.
So I started walking. One foot after another, baby steps. I remembered that classic scene near the end of the movie "A Beautiful Mind", where the gifted but flawed mathmatician didn't rid himself of his imaginary tormenters, but he learned to deal with them. They were still there, but now they were almost friends. In the process, he learned to live again.
- Terry Sheldon
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."
1 John 4:18