Fear is the Key to Freedom

From Deb @ Breathing in Grace
From Deb @ Breathing in Grace

 

If you’ve read much of my blog you know I struggle with fear and worry.  You also know I am a recovering perfectionist.  I guess it is highly possible the two go hand in hand.  I am so thankful God has chosen to speak to me a great deal about these two things.  Fear.  Worry.  I had convinced myself both were a sin.  Yep, big black, dirty sins.  That would lead to beating myself up over the worry and fear.  And you know how the cycle goes. The beating up, the battle in the mind, leads to more fear and more worry.  It’s really quite exhausting.

I believe all of us have been there.  Some of us just stay there longer than others.  I confess.  That would be me.  The recovering perfectionist.  The one that got to the end of her rope, couldn’t fix the world, much less her extended family, couldn’t do it all, missed the boat on some great chances.  The one living life exhausted and finally tired of living that way.  The one who knew there was more to life than this.  I could regret it all.  I could regret I didn’t learn sooner.  But, what good is that?  It only leads to a renewed cycle of fear and worry.

I am grateful.  I am grateful God’s grace never runs out.  I am grateful each morning is full of NEW mercies.  I am grateful He walks with me.  I am grateful that when we finally release He gives us rest, freeedom.  I am grateful I said yes to letting go of perfectionism.  I honestly thought letting go of perfectionism meant I’d be free of fear and worry.  Not so.  You see, the greatest lesson of all in this process of letting go (and it is a process, don’t kid yourself into thinking you can quit anything cold turkey) has been understanding His truth.  Fear is not a sin.  Fear is a feeling.  God created it.  He created our minds and bodies to respond to it and in those responses we are often protected.    The sin comes in letting fear oppress us, hold us back from obedience and faith.  God knows I fear.  His word says that is okay.  His word tells me He has a plan for fear.  The plan is to keep going WITH Him.  The plan is to acknowledge the fear, to look it in the eye and say, “This fear is real.  But I will not let it win.  I have God with me, in me, around me.  I will walk with Him THROUGH this fear.” Too often I let fear oppress, hold me captive.  That leads to worry.  That leads to inaction.  That leads to nothing good.   God has taught me and reminded me that putting feet to my faith is what matters.  That thing that terrifies me, is most often the one thing needed to move me towards my God given calling.  He never says He will take the fear away.  He never rebukes us for having fear.  He simply says, “Do not fear” and then gives a directive.  For the Israelites it was “do not fear”, put the blood on your doorposts and the angel of death will pass over.  To Abraham is was “do not fear”, gather my people and I will lead you to the promise land.  To Mary it was “do not fear”, go tell Joseph and I will give to you my Son and you shall call Him Jesus, Messiah.  DO NOT FEAR is never a chastisement.  It is always a directive, followed by an action we are to take, followed by a promise.  Fear is not a sin.  Fear is often the propelling force.  It is the force pushing us to greater faith.  It is the force that says, trust me, put feet to your faith and hold on.

The worry thing.  Well, it is a sin.  I am still struggling with it.  It wins most often when I have let fear win.  There is something liberating though in coming to the truth that I need not fear, fear itself.  It’s hard-hard to embrace, but I am getting there.  When fear strikes I am learning to sit, to be still, and to listen intently for His directive I KNOW is to follow.  Then I pray.  I pray for strength to do it, to take the step.  The most beautiful part comes in holding His hand watching for the promise to unfold.

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The Worry Sin

I seem to find myself ensnared in this thing called worry.  The worry sin.  It is mixed with a little fear, a little doubt.  Those in and of themselves are not bad, in fact they can be the emotions that spur me on to new places, new depths of understanding, new confidences.  But worry.  How it drains.  It creeps in during the deepest, darkest points of night.  It awakens me from the rest so desperately needed.  It stirs my mind and thoughts go astray.  The fatigue, the stress, the frustration alter the course of the morning yet to come.  The days feel long and the words are not encouraging, loving or grace filled.  The sweet daughter, the one with so much compassion and the gift of mercy, gently whispers to me, “Mom, why so much worry?  Relax.  Tomorrow will come and you can do some more.  Today is good.”  God uses her to speak truth and rebuke to me.  It stings.  Yet, at the same time, it warms my heart.  This young lady I have raised.  She relates to her heavenly Father with complete openness and abandon.  Life is full of hope and tomorrows.  She sees beauty all around her.  She knows the darkness that exists, but she chooses the light and joy.

Most of what I worry about I can not change.  Much of what I worry about has already happened-it is Satan’s tool-regret.  Again, I can not change what has already happened.  The life I live is blessed.  Not easy.  Not void of hardships or heartache.  It is not full of material possessions and financial freedom.  None the less it is blessed.  She, my mercy girl, reminds me.  She reminds me as we drive down the road.  I see traffic, I see the clock ticking.  She sees the single wild flower blooming in the median.  She sees the young child laughing in the car next to us.  She sees hope and anticipation of joy as we approach our next activity.  And I pray.  I pray that I can regain my child like faith.  I pray I can believe the God who redeemed me can redeem my lost moments, my squandered time and the not meant to be veers off the path to His purpose for me.  I pray He gives me the desire and the strength to keep going, no matter what.  I pray to believe, as Holly Gerth so eloquently put it in You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream, “But whatever purpose God has for your dream, he will bring it to pass.  Your job is to not quit no matter what happens.  god will take care of the rest.”  I pray she will hold firm to her God given gift and always choose the light and joy.  I pray she will continue to speak truth, in her gentle and quiet way.

The worry sin.  It is the thorn in my flesh.  It is the sin I do not let go of.  I know I am not alone.  But that does not make it ok.  I can not squander the night with worry.  I can not squander the day with worry.  There is too much to be done.  The worry sin.  It turns my attention to the dark, to the mistakes, to the irritants.  Trust.  Faith.  Those illuminate the dark.  They force my attention on the future and a hope.  It is my choice.

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Own It

I am known around our house for the phrase, “Own it.”  The other day one of the girls asked me why I used that phrase.  First thought, “Seriously, she doesn’t know why?  Epic mother fail if she’s just now figuring this out!”  Second thought, “Why do I use that phrase so much?”

We can all get in the habit of using phrases, but if we forget why, or fail to share with others the “why” behind the phrase, they serve little purpose than to expedite conversation, which is never really a good thing.  My first use of the phrase, was in my journal about five years ago.  I was in the midst of what felt like a dry valley.  Life wasn’t clicking along as planned, I felt displaced at church, couldn’t quite find my “thing”, my “place”.  The one thing God made clear during that time was the repeated message that HOME was where I needed to be.  It was as if He was calling me to a quiet fellowship with Him, a place of solitude.  As the journey continued I began to see some things in me I didn’t like, some patterns repeating I didn’t want repeated.  As I moved toward the “greener pastures” I knew God was calling me to “own it”, to take responsibility for me-things I thought, my feelings, my words, my actions.  We often say we are not responsible for others, but I’m not sure I believe that any more.  I am responsible for pain or suffering or joy I cause another.  I also realized I come from a family, both immediate and extended, that has a pattern of not taking responsibility for choices, for actions.  On some level it is a part of all our sin nature.  The problem is, when we don’t own it, we don’t deal with it, identify it, name it, lay it before the throne.  Instead, we bottle it up.  We seek to “put on a good face”.  We in essence lie, lie to ourselves, to our families, to our friends, to those around us.

I began the process of “owning” it and I continue on the journey.  It has become increasingly important to me to ensure my children are being taught to “own it”.  I want them to recognize sin.  I want them to see the joy or pain or sorrow they cause their heavenly Father, their dad and I, and those in their community.  I want our home to be a place where we say “I am sorry.”  Surprisingly, “owning it” has proven to be quite freeing.  As I look within, pray for insight, conviction and discernment I am able to clearly see the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am able to name my specific action.  I am able to develop a new habit repeating those good actions/words or bring about lasting change by laying the negative at His feet and seeking His strength to end the behavior, to ask for forgiveness or to address my role.  It frees me to leave the other person’s behavior, reactions, decisions, for them to address.

“Own it”.  It will continue to be a catch phrase in our home.  It will continue to be a topic of my journaling.  Try it.  If you are having trouble in your relationships, not succeeding at work, feel tired, have gained weight etc… stop and think.  What behaviors are influencing/impacting/leading to the outcome?  What specifically are you doing?  Eating too much sugar?  Own it.  Admit it.  Say it out loud.  Take it to your heavenly Father and ask for help.  Yelling too much?  What are you angry or frustrated about?  Get it?  “Owning It”-it’s nothing more than being honest with yourself, taking responsibility for your actions, seeking forgiveness and guidance and doing something to change it.