Fear has been a near-constant battle for me in the last few months.
Recently, my life changed significantly. When I came to grips with a number of difficult things I had been denying or minimizing over the years, it all led to making significant changes in my life. Suddenly, I found myself in a completely unfamiliar place, surrounded by strangers, battling constant doubts and fears, unemployed, and uprooted from almost every familiar or comforting thing I knew.
Every tomorrow seemed like a yawning chasm of the unknown.
The writer part of me welcomed the unknown. Maybe it's just a quirk of being a creative, but I've always seen challenges as adventures in disguise. Utterly terrifying, perhaps, and potentially quite painful, but full of infinite possibilities.
But as the initial blind momentum of necessity subsided and I began to realize just how drastically my life had changed, the fear became a rooted thing, flourishing in the cracks of my courage like a weed. This was an adventure I didn't really want. I felt like Samwise from The Lord of the Rings: "Close the book. I don't want to read anymore."
How could I face tomorrow?
Come and take the fear away, 'til there's nothing left but faith.
Even after settling into a new place, I struggled to feel as though it was truly home. Home was the sum of all things familiar, of a context in which I knew my role and function. This was not familiar and my whole role and function was in transition.
I remember the day I drove in my car, feeling suddenly homeless in a way I had never felt before. My playlist turned to "Bring Us Home" by Tait, Biaca, and Lecrae. The words spread through my mind, simultaneously painful and beautiful: "Bring us home... Every tear drop in the sand, longing for a distant land... Only You can bring us home."
Through my tears, I suddenly knew one thing with certainty, as though my Father spoke it.
I am your Home.
In the following months, I threw myself into the shelter of my Savior and I found Home like I had never known it before. He was bringing me Home every day as I learned to see Him more clearly.
Another fear struck at the root of something I never though I'd question. In my old home, I had built a place in my community. People knew who I was and respected my place in the community, and my Christian friends knew me as a strong Christian woman. In short, I had a reputation.
Suddenly, I was in a place where the general community neither knew nor cared who I was. You got skills, girl? There are a hundred other people with better skills. You got a reputation? Not here you don't.
As for "strong Christian woman," I wasn't. I was totally falling apart. I was afraid to be around people, especially Christians, because my stress level and my trigger-quick tears seemed to blare: "Look at me! I'm a wreck! I'm one of those pathetic women who can't hold it together and just 'be strong in the Lord.'"
But God had a new community for me. As much as I felt vulnerable and feared the judgment of other Christians, what I found in the Christian community at my new church was only love. Love and warmth and openness of a level that left me so stunned I didn't know how to accept it. I had experienced such support from individual families before, but never from an entire church. I had nothing to recommend me except my need and they were glad to accept me anyway.
There I found that, not only was I able to receive, but I was also able to give. My gifts and skills were not useless after all, but just waiting to be used in the context of Christ's body.
My tomorrow is still uncertain. There are a lot of unknowns yet to be discovered in the months and years ahead. The situations that so disrupted my life have not resolved and I expect more tremors of uncertainty in the future. But the fear?
I used to think that if I loved God more truly, my fear would melt away. But I have learned that it is the opposite. It is only God who can love truly, deeply, and perfectly. It is His love that protects me from fear.
Fear says, "You are not safe." My Father's love says, "I am your safety and your home."
Fear says, "You are not wanted." My Father's love says, "I loved you before you first loved Me."
Fear says, "You are a failure." My Father's love says, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness."
I am not a slave to fear. I am the daughter of a powerful, protective, perfect God who loved me more than His own life.
Because of Him, I can face tomorrow.
Because of Him, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.