Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fear Not: Part 1

Last year around this time, I did a series about the topic of fear.  A year might have passed, but I still need reminded of this stuff so I'm going to re-post it in large part for myself.  If it happens to help anyone else, well, that's great too!

Recently, I had the joy of sharing at a women's meeting for our church.  The topic was something that each of us, men and women alike, are all too familiar with: fear.  I thought I'd go ahead and post the message in bite sized chunks for those who weren't able to make it.  
Part 1
I’d like to start by telling you a story about a woman in this church.  You may or may not know her. It’s safe to say that we could probably characterize this woman as an “expert in fear.”   I’ve gotten her permission to share with you a bit of her story.  

Fear and anxiety had a grip on this woman even as a little girl. Even in elementary school and junior high she was so characterized by fear that she suffered from debilitating stomach aches.  She was so frightened about being alone that she begged her mom to sleep in her room each night.  She was so scared of talking with someone on the phone that she’d break out in a sweat whenever the phone rang.  Because she was so afraid of being seen as dumb, she rarely raised her hand to answer any questions in school even when she knew the answer.  She was so terrified of being kidnapped that she outright refused to go outside alone, even to the mailbox.

In high school, anxieties continued, even as her faith began to grow.  She was so frightened by the thought of getting into an accident that her parents literally had to make her get her driver’s license.  She feared falling short of the expectations of teachers, parents, and friends so much that she was perfectionistic in everything that she did.  She feared having nightmares to the extent that she dreaded going to bed at night.

These fears also ran deep in her relationship with God.  Because she was absolutely terrified of confessing any sin or really anything personal at all, she would feel sick even at the thought of giving a prayer request in youth group.  She was absolutely terrified of committing the unpardonable sin (even though she didn’t know what it was), worried that she would unknowingly commit it and be banished to hell forever.  Even though she was a Christian, she feared that maybe God wasn’t really who she thought He was-feared that maybe He wasn’t even real; this kept her up at night and she could hardly think of anything else.

The fears continued as she went away to college.  She was so anxious about the number of people in her lecture hall once that she had an anxiety attack, she broke out in hives and had to leave the room.  She feared falling into the same sins of drunkeness, sexual immorality, and worldliness that friends participated in so much that she felt panicky, even just being around them.  Because she was afraid that she might never get married, she struggled constantly with jealousy towards engaged and married friends around her.

And you can imagine how she has continued to struggle with fear once she did meet her husband and navigated learning to be a wife, not to mention getting pregnant and becoming a new mom.

This woman knew fear very well, didn’t she?  Fear was something she dealt with on a daily basis for years and years -it nearly overwhelmed her at points and even had physical consequences.  And I can verify that her fears about frightening things have absolutely consumed her at times.  I can verify that because this woman is me.

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