Down here in the buckle of the Bible belt, fear is a controversial subject. Those of us who struggle with it feel like outcasts in need of a secret handshake less we be found out. I am here to say, “I am afraid . . . and it’s o.k.” When fear meets faith, it can sometimes feel like a shootout at the O.K. Corral!
If you know me, you know I live out loud. Exhibit A: have you seen the name of this website. Hellooooo?
And, living life out loud can get you into trouble when you least expect it. Ask me how I know.
There I was with my tribe, faith – based bloggers. Hey, it was an even tinier subset: faith – based, homeschooling bloggers. I felt all warm and snuggly and safe.
I was getting all giddy with it, thinking I might one day be somebody in the blogging world, when reality hit courtesy of a bigger, shinier blogger who happened to be a speaker.
“You know,” she sniffed, “You need to change the name of your website.”
“Wha . . . what? “
“Change it. The name of your site.” She sniffed again like she had dog poo on her upper lip.
“Really? Why?” I tried to act cool like I hadn’t just developed a permanent stammer.
She shrugged, “You just should.”
Geez. Thank you for your willingness to **edumacate a peon such as myself. You are a born teacher, aren’t you? (I didn’t say it, but I wish I had.)
As soon as no one would notice, I scurried out of the banquet room to lick my wounds. I had barely gotten out of my wet paper bag, prison-of-fear to venture to the event.
I folded like a deck of cards at the slightest challenge. Who did I think I was? I can’t even name a website right.
Not only did I have a hard time living through the event, for most of 2 years, I wrote barely a word anywhere after it. Something about me, my judgment, my decisions about business had been valued as ‘less than’. I was toast. Burnt toast.
I had seen references to the number of times Jesus said, “Do not fear,” and “Do not be afraid.” If you Google it, you find out it’s 365 times. Get that? There’s a verse addressing fear for each and every day of our calendar year. 365 ways to tell me how lame I am in my Christian failings.
One day, it dawned on me. I am not alone because somewhere in the world, somebody needs a verse like that every day of the year.
All I had ever heard was about how God put 365 verses about fear in there because it is such a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGG sin.
If numbers mean anything, that concept ranks right up there under the unpardonable sin. Best I know, the unpardonable sin is mentioned only once, and fear is mentioned THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE times.
I. Am. Sunk. On the bright side, I’m not alone. I have at least 364 other failures a year in my tribe.
Wonder of wonders, Jesus loves me, and I am not ‘less than’ because of my fear. Here’s how I know. On one of my lowest of lowest days, it was like Jesus himself thumped me on the side of the head.
It was as if he said:
Have you forgotten another one of my other verses? The one that says I remember the frailty with which I’ve made you? Oh, my dear girlie girl, I repeated my admonitions and encouragements about fear because I remember the frailty with which I made you.
I remember. I know you need gentle reminders of how you need not be afraid. In fact, I made you with a certain frailty, so you will lean into me when you are afraid.
Child of mine, lay that burden down now. Stop walking in guilt because someone spoke into your life from her own experience, and her own fears, about fear meaning you are ‘less than’.
My shame and confusion began to melt and then slip away like snow sliding off a roof during a thaw.
Then, just when I thought I had things under control, my life began to implode faster than I could hold it together. Every plan I had to reconstruct my life came apart at the seams while I clung by bloody fingernails of faith to a life that no longer made a lick of sense.
All I could do was make sure we had clean laundry and a lukewarm meal.
But, in those darker of darkest days, a sweet thing happened. Jesus kept reminding me – fear is not the problem. In fact, denying it is an even bigger problem than having it.
If life hasn’t overwhelmed you to the point of fearfulness, you just haven’t lived long enough. Your time’s coming. None of us get out of here alive – or unscathed by fear. No matter how sure you are of yourself and your fearlessness.
So, here I am today. Turning around and looking fear in the face. Unafraid to tell you the truth. I have been afraid. Most of my life. And, it is o.k. Life comes with plenty of opportunities to be afraid. Up in this house, you don’t even have to whisper about it!
These days, my friends tell me Imma have to delete that nickname, ‘fraidy cat’. They say, “Oh, you are no fraidy cat. Look at you go! Fraidy cats don’t: fill in the blank.”
I am living proof that fear does not have to own you. This site was born because I want you to know what I know. I am afraid . . . and it’s o.k.
Come grow with me? I can’t wait to see where our journeys take us!
Psalm 103:14 (NASB)
For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Need a reminder that it is o.k. to embrace your fear? Download a free graphic to print and post as a reminder that you do not need to be ashamed of your fear. Psalm 138:8 free download
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**Edumacate – southern slang meaning ‘to educate’.