Friday, January 20, 2012

The Fear Post

Sometimes I feel like my entire life is and has always been (I hope will not always be) defined by fear. When I first read Hind's Feet on High Places, I felt a great kinship with Much-Afraid because I easily saw myself in her place. My prayers from that point on were often confessions to God that I was very much afraid and I needed him to deliver me from that fear. The first verse I voluntarily memorized was 1 John 4:18, "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." I cannot begin to count the nights that I have lain awake, my heart pounding as I thought of death, while I whispered those words over and over, willing them into my heart.

Why am I so afraid?

I want a scapegoat to point at and blame for all my problems. The church for teaching me to fear hell. Teen Mania for teaching me to fear God's wrath and judgement should I fail to fulfill his call on my life. Myself for always fearing death. My father for making me skeptical and always full of doubt. My grandmother for living in a constant state of worry and passing it on.

But I really suspect it's just who I am. Why am I so afraid?

Terrified of being wrong. Terrified of living wrong. Terrified that I'm letting Satan win and deceive me. Wondering if I'm lazy and should be fighting battles I'm not even engaging in. Should I be going to church? Is my salvation in peril if I don't? Should I be trying to get my friends to convert? Ask them if they want to pray the sinner's prayer?

These questions and fears wouldn't have even crossed my mind 10 years ago. I was supremely confident in my place in the world, in my beliefs, in the way I was living my life. I was straight-edge, naive and proud of it. Sure, my life was full of turmoil but it was all boys and tests from the Lord, so I was okay. I knew what I knew. I believed in a truth that I felt perfectly safe in and I had dozens of friends who believed the exact same thing to back me up.

And then the doubt came. And I was so afraid.

I just hid from it. Pushed it aside. Ignored the questions and buried them under as much faith as I could muster. Didn't worry about answers, just set it in God's hands and closed my eyes. Didn't try to understand the "whys"; just put them away. But they kept pushing to the surface and finally I couldn't escape. I could only ignore my heart for so long and even though I know the arguments backward and forwards, my heart was restless.

I'm so afraid.

Am I allowed to just say, "I don't know" and leave it at that? Can I just say that I want to believe in truth and a God that loves us all? Can I just try to work out my faith one step at a time? Maybe I'm wrong but I'm trying to be honest about where I am and I'm not trying to make any grand statements. I just want to live well. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with my God. Love everyone because God loves everyone and he loves me.

Maybe it's okay to be afraid. Maybe it keeps me humble and on my toes. Prevents me from being apathetic and lazy. Maybe I'm just working out my faith with fear and trembling, like Paul says in Philippians. I do know that right now, I believe I can stand before God and say, I am honestly trying my best. I am doing my best.


  1. "Am I allowed to just say, 'I don't know' and leave it at that?"

    Yes. Yes you are. Christians - at least, in the Christianity where I was raised - are called upon to have faith, to do their best, and to trust in the mercy of a being who loved the world so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son to redeem us; who understands our flaws and imperfections and failings.

    What Christians are not called upon to do is Have All The Answers, Right Now.

  2. Thank you. Even when my brain says what you say, it's so much better to hear it from a third party.