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Anxiety and fear are such heavy burdens to carry. Such a difficult and wearying struggle. And something I struggle with often. Honestly, there have been times over the years -- especially when I was college-age and just starting to develop the maturity to realize the frailty of life, how fleeting and precious it is, and how scary our world can really be -- when I would share with friends or leaders in church, Bible studies, or teachers in my classes, that I was struggling with fear. Often, my (sometimes embarrassed confession) incited a look of pity and words like, "Come on, now Erin. You know that not trusting God is sinning...... We will pray that you trust more." (Or in other words, "Get your spiritual shiz together, girl.") It left me feeling small, helpless, and sort of confused -- and yet, still shaky and full of fear (kinda like Piglet on "Winnie the Pooh.") I didn't know quite what to do with that. I'd repeat, "Yes, God.. um, help me to trust You." And then lay awake all night worrying about something on my heart, or anything and everything that could go wrong until my heart would beat and pound, out of control, and I could not breathe.
Yet, looking back, I wish I would have met those anxieties and fears with a different attitude. One that simply came to the feet of Jesus, broken and messy, needy and desperate, and said, "I don't really understand Your ways, Lord. Or why You've allowed this, this and this in my life. But I am overcome by fear. And I need You..." I wish I hadn't been made to feel guilty and "ungodly" for feeling scared. Because, I truly don't think my Jesus wants that for His children. He wants us to be free, happy, and joyful. Like a parent desiring all the best for their toddler.. trying to create a safe, healthy, fun place full of joy for them to play. That is what He desires for us. But, we live in a broken and fallen place, and sometimes it is scary. And it's okay to be scared. But, I have found, that when I take those fears to Him -- He is there, holding me up. Reminding me of His presence, His goodness, His grace. "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
"I prayed to the Lord and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears." - Psalm 34:4
I haven't shared this at all on my blog or social media but since Daniel and I have been married we have experienced some of the greatest joy and happiness of our lives. Yet, there have been two pretty big instances (and a few other littler moments and situations) in the past couple months where we have faced major uncertainty. I may share more later but for now, I just want to tell you and be honest -- because sometimes people on social media and bloggers can seem to have the most flawless lives. And it's okay to share just the good things. Sometimes it's not appropriate to share all our dirty laundry with the whole entire world, not safe, and not our own story to tell - maybe other people are involved in our situation who we need to protect. Life online is the "highlight reel" not the behind the scenes. And in my life even in the past couple months, we've faced some fearful moments. Especially one where I had to trust the Lord and honestly didn't trust Him very steadfastly through a lot of the situation -- I cried and feared, but laid at His feet and in His arms, which is all He asks. That is trust to me. Like a baby just resting in a mama's arms -- trusting that she will feed her, trusting that she will make sure she is safe. It isn't about us and our strength. It's about us and our severe brokenness and desperate need for Him. And He meets us right where we are.
Sometimes I think we need to realize that we are just broken and He is bigger than that. We are needy and He is our helper. And sometimes, we need to use things He's created to help us with our anxiety and fearfulness... Instead of just slapping a "bandaid" of "trust God more" onto our fear, I think we should talk about our fears and where they come from. In counseling and therapy, with family or close friends... being honest and looking into why we feel the way we do. We can get help from medical professionals, in extreme cases, because sometimes anxiety is a disorder. And sometimes, we need to wisely use little simple things like burning candles and sipping hot tea with honey, taking a warm shower, sitting and reading the Psalms, turning on peaceful worship lullabies or soft sweet music, and using things like essential oils (I love using lavender and "Stress Away" from Young Living Oils. And no, I don't sell them ;) I just really like those ones!) to help us stay calm and remember truth. It doesn't mean that the scary things will go away, but we can do our best to crawl up into His lap, lay our head on His chest, and rest in His presence as best we can on earth. Because He cares, He isn't judging or angry when we are scared, but is kind, gracious, full of compassion. And He gives us freedom. He frees us from our fears! What an amazing thing to have access to. A God who holds the Universe in the palm of His hand and cares intimately about all your secret fears -- big and small. I've created this little printable -- for me and you -- as a little reminder and tool as we strive to lay it all at His feet and look to Him in our fear and uncertainty, knowing He is good.
You and I are oh so loved. And oh so free, in Him.
"Leave it all in the hands that were wounded for you."
- Elisabeth Elliot