Fear lives widest awake in the darkness. The howling wind that knocks a stray plastic flowerpot against the house or makes the welcome sign clatter against the siding turn into intruders with sinister intent. The single chirp of a smoke alarm with a weakening battery at 3:00 am becomes the alarm system going off as a window is being opened. My thudding heart pounds in my ears causing me to question every noise. This was me, the great Christian, last week while my husband was on yet another business trip.
I am not sure when fear first tip-toed into my life, but can’t remember a time when it wasn’t at least lurking in the shadows. I can’t remember when it first visited and set up residence inside my fragile heart. My earliest memories of fear were of not pleasing my mother and getting in trouble, or jumping as far as I could to get into bed out of fear of the monsters that lived under my bed at night. Fearful of fires and lightening storms which wasn’t helped by either a Dad who chased smoke until we could see the burning building or a third grade teacher who told horror story after horror story of people being struck by lightening.
As I matured my fears did too. Fear of not being accepted, fear of not getting good enough grades, fear of failure, fear of not ever being attractive enough to be loved, fear of being alone, fear of being in new social circles where I didn’t know anyone…fear of, fear of, fear of!!! At seventeen after a thwarted attack by a drunk man (thankfully stopped by a neighbor that lived on my route I walked to my job 3 blocks from home) began a whole new set of fears. Couldn’t tell anybody for fear my parents would find out and make me quit my job which would mean I would never afford college or a car, fear of rape or other attacks. Now entered the long era of nights alone becoming a battlefield of terror and horrific “what ifs”.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
God has been so faithful to help me face up to many of my fear, literally head on. He has bit by bit drawn me out of the shadows and into the light. He moved a girl terrified of spring thunderstorms in Eastern Washington to live for 5 years in Tornado Alley. He brought a loving, godly man into my life who after over 30 years of marriage still finds me beautiful in spite of the gravity pull of time. We lived under evacuation notice for 3 weeks in Alaska as forest fires raged nearby. The girl afraid of meeting new people, being accepted and new situations married a man who was raised as a missionary kid overseas and accustomed to visiting a different church each Sunday when in the States on furloughs. This same man joined the United States Air Force weeks after we were married and we spent the next ten years moving Montana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Alaska, Iowa and finally returned back to Washington when he got out of the military. Four and a half years ago God moved us again to the Arizona desert after sixteen years settled back in my home town. It meant again leaving family, friends and a church we loved. I have learned to come out of my shell and make friends and even enjoy some new social situations. All our moving and making friends in the military years means we have friends scattered all over which makes being able to catch up on Facebook a blessing. He has shown me that being real and vulnerable doesn’t bring more rejection as I feared, but tears down walls to build more relationships. Lately my loving Father has had me confront my fear of public speaking by having me share at women’s event in church. I must admit I was battling fear up until the moment I started when God’s peace washed over me as I began to speak and I actually enjoyed it!! Fearful Me!!
The area that has been the most difficult to overcome is my fears of evil attackers while alone at night. Joel has traveled throughout our marriage both in the military and the years as a civilian. I have come a long ways and am SO much better than in the past. I know all the verses on safety, peace and sleep and can quote most of them by memory. For the most part, the last few years I have had many victorious times where I slept peacefully while he was gone. I realized last week as I relapsed and let fear once more rule, that I am still battling this and will only succeed when I keep my eyes on the Light of the World instead of looking into the darkness of what-ifs
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
Bible verses about fear: