Archives for April 2013

How to Fight Fear {and actually win this time}

Fight FearThere we were, sitting on my family room couch. Nothing was too exceptional about the meeting other than the fact that we were both empty-handed. No steaming hot mugs of anything, which is pretty much unheard of in this house.  I have long believed that talking should always involve coffee drinking. I’m pretty sure I’ve never said anything worth repeating without a full-bodied dark roast in hand.

But that night, we had both reached our coffee limit and decided to practice some self-control. I had actually reached mine by noon – one of those days.

She was there to seek counsel about a dating relationship she was in. You know when things are starting to get serious with someone and you’re one big ball of conflicting emotions? That’s where she was and she knew the best course of action was to talk it over with someone completely outside the situation. As she talked one thing became very clear – the relationship was a bad idea and she knew it before she ever even walked into my house.

So why were we there? Why were we discussing the relationship? Why were we having the coffee-less conversation about the various strengths and weaknesses (mainly weaknesses) of a guy that was so obviously not the right fit for her?

The answer came in the form of a question she asked about halfway through the conversation: “What if nobody else ever wants to marry me?”

Did you catch those first two words? If not, go back and read the question again.

WHAT . . .

IF . . .

Powerful words.

Powerful enough to make an intelligent, Bible believing, Jesus loving woman run headlong into a potentially life-altering relationship with a guy whose life bears little to no fruit of godliness.

Terrifying.

Our “what ifs” are that powerful because they express some of our deepest fears – fears of the unknown. They stem from that nagging sense deep inside of us that the future is only what WE make it . . . that the uncertainties of life must be forced to submit to our own wills and desires . . . that no matter what, we must retain control.

Here’s the problem. Each and every day we are reminded that regardless of how much control we think we have over our own destinies, life happens.

Cancer happens.

Infertility happens.

Widowhood happens.

Job loss happens.

Miscarriage happens.

Foreclosure happens.

Marital infidelity happens.

Singleness (for WAY longer than you expected) happens.

Depression happens.

A gunman walking into an elementary school and shooting 20 precious children – that happens too. God help us.

Each and every tragedy that plays out before our eyes is a little seed that – if allowed to take root – will inevitably grow into a potentially paralyzing “what if?”

What if I get cancer?

What if I never get pregnant?

What if my husband dies?

What I lose my job?

What if I lose this baby too?

What if the bank takes our house?

What if my husband cheats?

What if I never get married?

What if this depression never goes away?

What if my child never comes home?

 

What are your “what ifs?”

More importantly, what do you do with them?

 

You basically have two options: First, you can try to overcome them by taking matters into your own hands, carefully manipulating and controlling your circumstances so that they fit your plans for your life. For instance, you can deal with the health related “what ifs” by making clean eating and exercising your family’s savior and lord. You can deal with the “what ifs” related to your children by being the overprotective, helicopter parent. You can deal with the “with ifs” related to having a baby by obsessing over that fertility calendar so much that getting pregnant becomes your full time job.

The problems with this first option should be obvious. First and foremost, most of our control is just an illusion. No matter how hard we try, life simply doesn’t fit into our carefully organized charts and graphs – and we know it. (Which is why the unknown can be so scary!)

Go with this option and you will end up fearful AND controlling – a miserable combination, if there ever was one.

So here’s our second option: We can turn our “what ifs?” into “even ifs.” Here’s what I mean by that . . .

“What if I never get married . . . ?” becomes, “Even if I never get married, my life still matters, I have a significant part to play in God’s kingdom, and God is going to meet every need that I have.”

“What if I never get pregnant . . . ?” becomes, “Even if another month passes without conceiving, God (not me, my husband, or the fertility specialist!) is the author of life, His timing is perfect, He knows how deeply I desire to be a mom, and He is able to make a way where there seems to be no way.”

“What if my child gets caught up in sin . . . ?” becomes, “Even if my child makes horrible choices, his/her life is in the hands of a sovereign God who loves him/her infinitely more than I ever could and is in the business of restoring sinful, broken people to a right relationship with Himself.”

“What if my husband loses his job?” becomes, “Even if my husband loses his job, God will supply all our needs according to His riches and glory.”

 

“What if” statements are based on speculation; “even if” statements are based on truth.

“What if” statements focus our eyes on the unknown; “even if” statements focus our eyes on the Lord.

“What if” statements fuel our fears; “even if” statements fuel our faith.

We can face the unknown with a bunch of terrifying questions, or we can face it with a storehouse of comforting truths – rock solid facts about who God is and what He has promised to do for us as His dearly loved children.

For every “what if” that haunts the hallways of our minds, there’s a fear-crushing “even if” in the pages of our Bibles. We just have to train ourselves to go there.

 

So what will it be? Upon what will you base your life –

Question marks or periods?

Speculation or truth?

Control or trust?

Fear or peace?

“Let your station in life change, and your property be gone; let your whole life be shaken, and you become weak and sickly; then everything flee away – there is one place where change cannot put his finger; there is one name on which mutability can never be written; there is one heart which can never alter; that heart is God’s – that name is Love.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Even if, sweet sister . . . .even if . . .

 

 

 

 

 

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