Thursday, November 14, 2013

How God Deals with Fear

A dark cloud. Heaviness. Oppression. Depression. Just couldn't shake the ominous, negative feeling I was having. It seemed to start when a woman in my Bible study admitted she had to have a very honest conversation with her six year old son. He asked about the reality of his deployed father coming home, and she told him there was no guarantee. This, of course, sparked further discussion and weeks of reassurances in their family. In my own heart, I began to seriously contemplate having this conversation with my daughter (when she is much older, of course), and I literally began to feel sick to my stomach. I honestly don't know if I can ever have that conversation. And perhaps, God wouldn't have it happen in quite that way in our family. Who knows.

The point is that I began to spiral downward fast. Over and over again I was hearing messages at church or Bible study, or reading in books that although God is good, there is no guarantee that our lives will be. Bad things happen to Christians just as often, if not more, than to unbelievers. This was not news to me, but it hit me much harder this time with all the repetition of this same message and my current life situation (i.e. deployment).

I began wondering if God was preparing me for something tragic to occur. Of course, I was totally missing the point. The point that I didn't need to fear those things because God would still be with me, He would see me through it. But rather than focusing on that, I chose to dwell on the negative, fearful things that could happen...maybe, possibly. The thing is I didn't feel like I was choosing it. I just felt miserable. Everything seemed to remind me of looming tragedy, from the songs we sang at church to TV shows I watched in an effort to escape my seemingly horrible reality.

As I began to analyze what was happening, I started to think of ways I could break free of the oppression. I couldn't stay like this.  I had to do something!  I started a praise devotional that encouraged me to listen to specific worship songs and journal details of how God was blessing me. The pages I read talked about worshiping God for who He is, in spite of the bad things in our lives.  Not as helpful as I hoped.  Then I started to throw my energy into making a really creative care package for DH. Doing things for others often helps me get out of a funk. Instead, a voice inside my head said, “you're doing all this work, but he may never even get it.” Matters were made worse when I skyped with him, and he told me he was going to be traveling. Fear seized my heart. My mind said, “this is it.”

In an effort to yet again escape these thoughts, which I knew were not of God, I called godly friends who encouraged me and prayed for me. It helped temporarily, but then my mind turned to a new direction – what if the tragedy God was seemingly preparing me for looked totally different. What if it was cancer or death of one of my close family members - my brother or parents? I began to envision horrible scenarios of heart-breaking phone calls. I prayed over and over, spent time in God's Word, took walks with DD, surrounded myself with people, and tried to eat more healthy, all in an effort to shake this. Yet nothing seemed to work. I began to think I may have to go back on anti-depressants because I surely could not live long-term like this.

It wasn't until the next Sunday when I heard yet another message of how God would be my shelter in the storm, that it finally clicked. I don't know what was specifically said, but I finally got it. The Lord broke through all of my pessimism, worry, and fear, shouting above the noise in my heart, that I didn't have to fear the storm. I didn't have to fear the war. He would always be with me. (We sang this song that summed it all perfectly). At that moment, peace flooded my heart and pushed out all the negative thoughts and feelings. I felt free. Free to live my life without fear of what might happen. Because it might actually never happen. And if it does, the Lord will carry me through the way He has helped me through everything else in my life, the way He has helped millions of others who experience tragedy daily.

This doesn't mean I won't pray my heart out  for protection of my family or won't every worry again. For example, DH never went on that trip, and I only just found out it was because the risk was so high, no one could leave the FOB. So when DH told me the next time he did have to travel, I worried. But God is faithful to remind me of this new lesson and teach me to trust Him afresh. He also continues to put this verse on my heart – Philippians 4:8 – and prods me to apply it diligently, even when I don't feel like it. It's a work in progress. I'm a work in progress, but I feel so much lighter and praise Him for His intimate involvement in my life. He sees me, and He sees you too.


Amanda hoerschelman said...
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Amanda hoerschelman said...

I love reading your blog, Melissa! You have a beautiful style of writing, and I love how "real" and open you are about your fears, passions, and what God is teaching you. Thank you for sharing!