Saturday, 9 June 2012

Confessions of a Pastor's Wife: Confession #9 (Conclusion)

Confession #9: Fear really got a hold on me.

Conclusion: Faith, Hope and Love

If you are just joining me now, you can catch up by reading Part One and Part Two.

So, I've laid all my fears out there for you. Now what? What do I do now? What can I tell you? When praying about this part of my post, God spoke three words to me: Faith. Hope. Love.

FAITH (in God's word & promise):

My mom, after she read Part Two of this "Fear" series, sent me a blog post by Pete Wilson called "Worry is Killing Us". I thought it was so good that I would post it here:

"This morning I was looking at Matthew 6 and the one question Jesus asked in verse 27 has been totally messing with me. He asked,

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Think about that question. Can anyone here honestly say the time they've spent in fear, anxiety, or worry has added any value to their life?

This particular word "worrying" translated in the Greek literally means "to be drawn in different directions." Worry pulls us apart. I read the other day where a John Hopkins University doctor said, "We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than non-worriers, but that is a face."

I believe the reason worriers die before non-worriers is because we are inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear, worry and anxiety is not true to the way we've been wired. Everything about you from your tissue ... to your brain cells ... to your soul is constructed by our Maker for faith and not fear. To live by fear is to live against the reality of your creation.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. - Philippians 4:6"

HOPE (filled attitude & focus):

"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark." George Iles

My dad once told me, "never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light." Dark moments come. Fear comes. But those are the times to place your hope in the Lord. Hold out your hand and let Him take it and lead you through.

I love this passage from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

"Therefore we do not lose heart. [We hope!] Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes [we focus] not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

When I keep my eyes [my focus] fixed on the eternal the fears of the seen, of this world, dim. They lose strength, they lose power.

LOVE (expressed through actions):

I use to repeat "Perfect love drives out fear" over and over again when I was feeling scared. I would imagine God's perfect love for me getting rid of the fear. It never worked. Why? Because I missed the point. I took one little verse (not even the full verse, just part of it) and forced it to apply to my circumstance without finding out the context and therefore the truth of the verse.

Read it, 1 John 4:7-21, and you'll see it. Yes, it talks about God's love for us but the author is beseeching us to love one another. God's love for us should in turn drive us to love others. When we are showing the perfect love of Christ to other people, that's when fear is driven out. There is no room for fear to fester in our hearts or minds because we are doing the most important thing Christ asked of us: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your mind and all your strength AND love your neighbour as yourself. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Confessions of a Pastor's Wife: Confession #9 (Part Two)

Confession #9: Fear really got a hold on me.

Part Two: Obedience

In my previous "Confessions" post I confessed that fear had got a hold of my life especially where my children are concerned. God has shown me that my fear comes from wanting control.

About the time when I was finally finding some breakthrough in the area of my children a new fear came along. No rest for the weary and all that.

So this new fear is a fear that surrounds my writing.

Weird, right?

Even weirder is that I have a fear of succeeding, not failing.

There are two areas where my fear is focused. The first, I believe, is a healthy, God-given fear and it has to do with Pride.

My only goal when I write is to bring glory to God. Period. Anything I write I want it to be anointed by the Holy Spirit and always pointing people to recognizing a facet of who God is and, most importantly, that He loves them. But there are times (a lot of them) when someone compliments something of mine that they have read and I feel pride sneak in. Actually, it doesn't really sneak but rather marches in and sits on a large, gilded throne and sits all smug-like. When this happens, I get scared. I get scared that I'll stop giving God the glory and start taking it for myself because I already know that my flesh wants it.

Part of the reason I write my 'Confessions' blogs is to make sure you get the bad and the ugly of my life; you get the self-doubts and the struggles and my admission that I am nothing without Christ. It's a reminder to me. And you have permission, as my readers, to call me out if you find that I'm starting to slip into 'prideland'.

The second area is this: God has called me to write. I feel this call so strongly that I know there is a purpose for it. God wants to use it and He wants me to be faithful with the gifts He has given me. And this is where the fear of succeeding has smothered me. As I stepped out in obedience I heard a voice in my head telling me that if I did this, if I kept writing, then bad things would happen to me. Have you ever heard that voice? I hope you have. It means you are doing what God has called you to do. And I hope you ignored it and kept going. When we step out into the life God has for us, the enemy is not happy. The enemy doesn't want us to succeed and will try and stop us from doing so.

So, I would lay in bed and hear this voice and see pictures in my head of horrible things happening to my family (brings it right back to what I fear the most). Fear keeps trying to hold me back. Fear keeps trying to paralyze me or worse, tries to convince me to take the easy way, the safe way, the comfortable way, the logical way. It's lies...all of it.

It might be easier but it's not safer. The safest place to be is in the centre of God's will. God drove that point home last summer during my personal devotions then made a pastor speak it in a sermon...just for me and, for some mysterious reason, my daughter wanted to read the story of Jonah (who tried to run away from God's will and it turned out badly) EVERY NIGHT FOR A YEAR. There is a picture of Jonah crying and every time she would point to it and say, "Jonah is sad because he didn't do what God wanted him to do." Okay, God. I get it.

It might be more comfortable but it's not logical. What's logical about denying who you are supposed to be? Even the world keeps trying to convince people to be true to themselves so wouldn't you think it's even more important to be true to who Christ wants us to be? I do.

God showed me what to do in those wee hours of the morning when fear attacks me. He whispers in my ear to get up...and write. So I do.

Click here for the conclusion to "Fear really got a hold on me"!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Confessions of a Pastor's Wife: Confession #9 (Part One)

Confession #9: Fear really got a hold on me.

Part One: Control

I beat fear down with a stick on a daily basis. I shouldn't, but I do. There use to be times when I would let fear sink it's talons into me and drag me down, reducing me to a quivering mass or, I would give it a sissy slap and hope for the best. I've come a long way.

I still remember my very first nightmare. I was probably five when I had it the first of many times. I would have it over and over again. As the years past, different nightmares paid their visits and I tried everything to get rid of them: praying, listening to worship music, sleeping with the covers over my head, crawling into my parents bed (I still did this when I was 17 - very embarrassing). Nothing seemed to work. Fear had moved into my heart and we had a nice, cozy relationship.

 But all that was nothing compared to the fear that overtook me when I became a parent.

I spent the first two years of my daughter's life living in complete fear. It was everywhere; in every moment and every thought. I would put my daughter in the car and I would think, "what if we get into an accident?" I would give her a bath and while she would be laughing and splashing, I would be thinking, "what if she slipped and hit her head and somehow, even though I am right here, I'm not quick enough to save her and she drowns?"

I didn't have post-partum depression (PPD), I wasn't sad or depressed, I was just trapped in fear.

I understood this fear. I love my kids. If anything happened to them it would be my worst nightmare.

I begged and pleaded with God about this fear in my life. "Take it away!" I would cry over and over again. But sometimes God likes to work long and slow on some things. The thing God has chosen to work long and slow on with me is: Control

I discovered, through a lot of prayer and listening to what God was trying to say to me, that my fear regarding my children was about wanting control.

I remember standing over my daughter's crib when she was a newborn and hearing God say to me, "Now give her back to me." That's when this particular fear came. It gripped my heart and all I could think was, "God, if I do that, if I give her back to you, then I am giving you permission to take her whenever you want. What if you take her from me when I'm not ready? What if you take her from me PERIOD?" I couldn't handle that. But then God said this, "I can do that anyway but I want you to trust me. I want you to trust that I love her more than you do. And if I love her more than you then I am going to take care of her, even if you don't understand the ways in which I do so."

Heavy. Hard.

After three days of wrestling through that I said "okay" to God and in my heart, I gave my daughter back to Him. Every day since, I have made it a point to give my children back to God. For a long time part of me waited for the shoe to drop, waited for the test to come, waited for the Job know...the one where everything is ripped away from you to see if you would still praise God? Well, I lived there, in anticipation of that Job moment. Sometimes I still do. Sometimes it's still there. But the more I keep giving the control back to God the better it gets. Some days it comes fairly easy but most days it's still hard and I find myself beating the fear back with a stick before remembering to shove the stick into God's hands saying, "Sorry. I tried to take control again. Take it back, please."

So, we're working on the control thing, long and slow, me and God. But what about my other fears...the ones that aren't tied up in my children? Click here for Part Two: Obedience.