Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Overcoming Fear

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

It is interesting that this verse contrasts fear and love, instead of fear and comfort, or fear and safety, or even fear and rest. Thinking about it, I can see that most of my fears have been rooted in loss of love, or perceived loss of love.

Darin Hufford’s recent blog on treating fear as something we have a choice on caught my attention. I believe that we women really need to hear the perspective of a man, because they tend to think more logically. A common experience I’ve had as a female is getting so caught up in my emotions that I can’t think straight anymore.

Darin’s blog was timely because there is an important decision we’ve been looking at making that could greatly affect our future. I was raised in a household that was hugely fearful. It was as though we had to consult the God of Fear first for every decision we made. If fear said it had a 1 percent chance of turning out awful, we would probably decide not to do whatever it was.

I’ve been controlled by fear all too often. As a result I’ve actually ended up enduring a lot of awful things that I might have avoided if I hadn’t been afraid! I’ve also missed out on some really good things.

You’d think I’d have the pattern nailed down in my logical mind by now, and be able to catch myself and stop it by now. But I’m proud of myself that at least now I’m trying to look at things more closely before making a knee-jerk fear decision, especially on big things.

I decided to discuss my situation with Darin and tell him of my concerns. I wanted to know if it was fear (unreasonable) or just concern (wisdom). He acknowledged the importance of my concerns and advised me to plan for the possibility that they would happen. But - here’s the clincher - he said, "But letting these things stop you (from following your dream) is being controlled by them. You’re stronger than that."

His words helped me clear up my wimbling back and forth. I can make myself dizzy with "On one hand, I want this, but on the other hand, it might be impractical, scary, dangerous, uncertain, a failure, a disaster, whatever." Yeah, I’ve been a poster child for that double-minded man verse in James and I look forward to Father maturing me out of doing that.

But I can see that thinking of myself as stronger than one who lets fear be in control is a picture of myself that I have not carried. Now I know what our course is. I can see that this will be another leg of our faith journey. And I hope it does a great work to really remove fear from my heart.

I also want to add that an important reason why that I struggle with fear is the lack of having somebody believe in me during my youth. As parents, no matter what age our children, may we all get across to them that we BELIEVE in them!! That’s an important foundational ingredient to any person. It’s kind of hard to find as an adult too. (You know you’ve found a real friend when they truly believe in you, even during the hard times!)

I decided to change my screen name here to Lionwoman...because lions are known as animals of great courage and dignity. As our Heavenly Father sees us.

Blessings to all,

Friday, August 8, 2008


I’ve often compared human fellowship to food. To me, time spent with a true friend or even an intriguing acquaintance is like a good, satisfying, nutritious meal. Think of a nice barbecued chicken breast, baked potato with all the fixings, a big salad and a big glass of cool water to wash it all down. Then, you get a nice warm chocolate dessert of some sort with ice cream. Now, that’s living. You get things that are good and nourishing for you in this meal, plus some things that just make you feel good. You’re totally satisfied, not hungering for anything more. This, to me, is what true fellowship is like.

Unfortunately, I’ve found this type of "good meal" fellowship to be relatively rare in our society of fierce independence, over-achievement, and focus on material gain. Our culture is an absurd reversal of many third world countries I’ve read about. Over there, many people live on a very simple diet. Many children are sustained on only rice because that’s all they have. Others may be lucky and also have millet or corn. Women feed their children on $2 a week. Yet when you see photos of these people in these places, there are always groups of people TOGETHER. They sit together, they lean against each other. Children are photographed sitting in a circle laughing or playing together. Women sit in a circle grinding grain or weaving while they talk. Men work the fields in groups. They live in overcrowded dilapidated houses and huts together. When illness strikes they care for each other until there are no healthy left to care for the sick. Sometimes, they lie down and die together.

Here in the U.S., most of us are overfed and many are overweight. We are more obsessed with healthy diets and weight monitoring than any other country, yet we are dying of eating-related disorders at an alarming rate. We have far more food to gorge ourselves on than is good for us and many of us have the love handles to prove it. Yet, as a culture we’re the poster children for emaciated, starving people in the spiritual and emotional realm.

I’ve spent a lot of time with my ear to the ground over the last few years and realized that though most people are hard-pressed to see or admit it, the average person is lucky if they have even one or two real friends. We know lots of people and call many of them friends, but in reality they’re just people we’re busy with.

I’ve always thought of these "busy-buddies" as cheese and crackers. Now, there’s nothing wrong with cheese and crackers, but if that’s all you ever eat, you aren’t truly being nourished. You can eat them until you don’t want anymore, and perhaps feel a little sick from all you’ve eaten. But you’re not satisfied. You want something more. You feel lethargic because you’re stuffed with something that hasn’t given you true nourishment. You didn’t really enjoy them all that much while you were eating them, but you were hungry and that’s all there was, so you ate and now you’re glutted but not fulfilled.

A snack is a snack. Light and shallow acquaintances are like snacks. Some are the yucky pre-packaged, God-only-knows-what’s-in-them orange crackers with quasi-peanut butter. These are not only not nourishing but downright bad for you. I’ve had some acquaintances and even ‘friends’ like this.

Other cheese and crackers may be good quality stuff. These are nice people you may know in the neighborhood, in the church, or in the book club. You chat pleasantly with them when you see them. Sometimes, you pursue a deeper relationship with them only to find out they don’t have time for real friends because of all the hustle-n-bustle in their lives. Nice people or no, activity and accomplishment will always take precedence over real relationship for them. You hoped it would turn out to be a real meal, but they remain cheese and crackers.

Sometimes I’ve come to a point in life where I wonder, "is it better to just go hungry than have another cheese and cracker snack?" At times I’ve glutted myself on "cheese and crackers" (including the stale vending-machine variety) until now when I’ve come to the point where I feel I’d rather starve than ever touch them again.

Perhaps Father has a design behind this dilemna? I’ve read the verses in the Bible. "Come and eat, and be satisfied." And thought, what IS he talking about? I go to church and I’m not satisfied. I participate in programs, activities and "home groups" and I’m not satisfied. We’ve been promised by institutional church that these things bring life, yet they don’t. Why does IC harp so much on fellowship? Could it be that they have accepted human fellowship as a substitute for true fellowship with God?

I’m going through a time where I’m struggling with whether I’ll starve if I really go hungry. I realize I’ve lived as though I’ll starve if I don’t eat these vending-machine cheese and crackers. I hope Father is getting me much closer to the point that I really am courageous enough to go hungry for however long I must. Maybe we have to be REALLY hungry, to have a cavernous hole in our stomach to be able to hold Him and all He wants to give us.