Friday, July 15, 2011

Say "Hi" to Leslie

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.




hannah singer said...

amen! praise jesus for his strength
especially when i am fearful and weak.
when i am afraid, i will trust in HIM.
excellent post. thanks, ladies!

Brandee Shafer said...

Great post.

Carly said...

Jesus' love and the power we get through him is so wonderful!
My favorite verse during those late-night moments is:
"In peace I will both lie down and sleep for you alone, O, Lord, make me dwell in safety." -Psalm 4:8
I actually just wrote about that verse and how it helps soothe me when I battle sleepless nights here.
Thanks for the post! I'll add this to my "arsenal" as well :)


katie said...

Leslie, you have such an amazing gift with words. I tend to feel fear often. I love that verse so much. It is so freeing.

Alyss said...

Gah, I love it. I'm fearful, too. What is up with that?! Thanks for the encouragement to tackle it.

Anonymous said...

love this.
thank you leslie and thank you Jami.

theolivetree said...

yes yes yes and amen!!!

Kelly said...

Why have I never read leslie's posts before? Love this. My mom inscribed the verse 2 timothy 1:7 onto my heart as a child. I never slept well because I was afraid of everything. I finally got it when I was around 12. After one of my miscarriages fear crept back in. It was tough for a while, but giving all your cares to good helps, you to walk taller with lack of better words.
Love ya Jami and thanks for the intro to Leslie.

Becky said...

Thanks so much from the other end of us for sharing! God has blessed me with a lot of courage--so I don't struggle with fear very much. I think I can often be the kind of person to brush off other people's fears without care or without considering my own blessing and that maybe God hasn't blessed everyone with the same bravery (or stupidity). :D Your sharing helps keep me sensitive, so thank you!

Lindsey said...

i, too, was a fearful child. my dad taught me to memorize scripture to help overcome fear and this is the one i seized hold of. my daughter who is 7 also has such a fearful spirit, so i've been teaching her to take hold of this verse as well.

April Queen said...

I am a single mom, I went through a divorce 3 1/2 years ago. I was a stay at home mom until my divorce. My ex has a lot of problems and will not see his 3 children (he lives on a street behind us) and refuses to pay child support unless made to by the courts, so I am always in court. I have had so many scary and fearful, almost panic attack , moments. I have leaned on God everytime and He has never let me down. I don't know how women in the same situation as me get through it without faith. I couldn't make it without mine.

Mrs. T said...

Such a powerful and wonderful post! So glad she shared that with us, and thanks for having her a guest on your blog! :)

Kimberlee Haag said...

WOW! Leslie, that was powerful and spoke to my heart. Thank you for sharing. That verse is being written on my bathroom mirror right now!