Today I have the great pleasure of having Leslie from Top of the Page share with you. I can't even begin to explain the wisdom I have received from reading her words. Even better, I was able to meet her face to face and I foresee many hours of conversation in our future. When you read what she had written for you you'll understand why I stalk her blog. Thanks for sharing your heart Leslie!
When I was a little girl, I was afraid of the dark. Well, not the dark itself, but scary stuff in the dark. Monsters. Robbers. Bad things. I think my fear, which was honestly for no logical reason, was what led to repeated nightmares. I remember walking the hall to my parents' bedroom nearly every night because I was so scared. This lasted for years. I can even remember one season, when I was about thirteen, where I slept in my brother's room for several months. To say my fear grew to a paralyzing extreme is not an exaggeration. I was never taught what to do with that fear. I was only told to go back to bed. So I did, sometimes crying myself to sleep at the mercy of my thoughts running wild.
And here's the problem. A little child who does not know how to manage her fears grows up to be an adult who does not know how to manage her fears. The only thing that changes is the darkness. A scary, dark bedroom is suddenly nothing compared to the darkness of failure, or betrayal, or abandonment, or any other threat we face as adults. But it was not until I had children and saw what unrelenting damage fear can do in their little lives that I began to lunge into battle against it. For myself, and for them.
I trained my little children, and thus trained myself, to fall into Jesus. Because I did have this in my arsenal:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment."
2 Timothy 1:7
I knew this verse backwards and forwards. I knew it in my head that God had not intended for me to be afraid. Fear is never from Him. And yet I was so plagued by it. Only because of what the Bible said, I knew there must be a way to freedom.
Over time, a couple years into my mothering, I was finding victory over my crippling fears. I was bringing my thoughts to Jesus. I was praying for freedom, I was disciplining my mind to use its "sound judgment" and avoid the thought patterns that got me into trouble. It was working for a while, and I was defeating the many irrational fears I had lived with for so long.
But then the circumstances in my home began to change. Our marriage was being tested and it felt like it may give way. My life got a little messy and suddenly my fears weren't so irrational. They stared me in the face every morning. They were real and ugly and tangible.
And yet. God hadn't changed one bit. He still whispered to me, "Do not be afraid." It seemed an impossible request. Any reasonable person certainly would have been. But He didn't want me to be reasonable. He wanted me to have faith. If I was going to fall, I would fall on Him, and He'd catch me. He assured me of this.
So that's what I did. I was a desperate, frail mess, shaking in my boots, and I brought it all to the Lord. I pushed my heap of feelings and fears to Him and asked Him to deal with it all. He knew what it was all about. I didn't have to explain or itemize. I just mentally pushed the mess away from me and onto Him. It was about time.
My husband and I had a couple rough years. It was a darkness I'd never known. And about halfway through, I can confidently say I was not afraid. I was held. Lifted up. And placed on solid ground until the storm passed. Friends marvelled at the change in me. I was different. Everything was different because I was finally fully trusting God with my life. I knew that did not guarantee smooth sailing. But only that I'd be held up, whatever came my way.
I teach my children to talk to Jesus in their beds at night when they are afraid of the dark. And I do the same. We talk to Him about different things, no doubt. But the same good and loving Lord hears us all. He's caught us when we've slipped into fear, and held us all closely, safely in His shadow. And it couldn't be more true: when I'm remembering He is at my side, ready to catch me no matter what, when I am walking in the truth that God gives me power, love, and sound judgement, fear has nothing to hold onto. Thank you Jesus for giving me freedom from fear.