For as long as I can remember, fear has been a part of my life. While some people called me a cautious child, I think it would have been better to go with “fearful”. I didn’t like being away from my parents. This meant I was not a fan of slumber parties and that overnight Girl Scout camp was an absolute disaster. There are even silly things that I was scared of. For example, I didn’t like getting my feet dirty. While I still don’t enjoy walking around barefoot, now it’s more a sanitary issue because I live in a dorm. My parents like to tell a story of when I was a preschooler. I was walking around outside, but every time I would take a step; I would stop to wipe the dirt and sand off of my feet. This obviously should tell you that I didn’t have any half-dressed baby pictures where I was playing in the mud! As I grew older, my fears grew more serious. I was scared of failure. I always wanted to succeed and be well liked. The most important thing to me in school was that my teacher like me and that I got good grades. That was the measure of a successful year for me. Sadly, this was not always achieved.
It’s strange. I have very few happy memories from my childhood. I remember a preschool program where I refused to go on stage, but even at that age I was scared of disappointing my parents. I remember being terrified the night my baby brother was born. (Hey, you would too if it was the middle of the night and you woke up in a car!) I remember in third grade arguing with two girls that I “thought” were my best friends over a photograph of the three of us. There were only two copies of the picture, and I thought that by securing that picture I was securing my place in that friendship. I remember my sixth grade teacher yelling at me. I remember “friends” that ran away laughing at me. You would think I had a horrible childhood if you just looked at these stories. But, I didn’t. I have two amazing parents that love me and have been married for twenty-five years. I didn’t come from a broken home. I have two younger brothers that show me their love and affection by annoying me. I graduated from high school third in my class. I have had the opportunity to go to college. I live a blessed life. I have a life that many people dream of, yet, this “perfect child” still struggles.
Fears of inadequacy.
Fears of failure.
Fears of what might happen.
Fears of what might not happen.
These fears have been a part of my everyday life. For twenty years, I accepted my fears as reality and lived a life of fear. But, as I entered my twenty-first year of life, I realized that a life of fear is not what God intended for my life. I want to live a life that is happy and that doesn’t fear the coming days, but rather embraces the present and runs with it.
I guess what makes all of these fears lies is the fact that God is bigger than any fear that I could ever conjure up. Satan preys on my fears and manipulates them to make me think that I am unworthy of the gospel. But, this is so not true. Here’s the thing. We can never be “good enough”. In Romans, it says that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Salvation comes from faith alone. It isn’t about me being “good enough”. It’s about his wonderful, magnificent love for is. In the Message translation of Psalm 36: 5-7 it says that
God’s love is meteoric. His loyalty astronomic, his purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness, nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. How exquisite your love, O God!
This passage stirs up so many emotions within me. Sometimes I think that I am so small in the grand scheme of things. I mean, think about the size of the universe. It’s huge. Would the God that created the Milky Way ever notice if I was having a crisis? The psalmist answers that question with a resounding YES! I am not too small for God to notice. He created me, so he loves me! He loves me, even though I am unworthy. My fears of inadequacy are useless. In the light of sin, we are all unworthy. Yet, God still sent his son to die for us. Wow. That’s huge. Why should I fear that I’m useless, unworthy, or a failure? Jesus died for me. He thinks I’m everything. Wasting our lives by worrying doesn’t make anything any better. I don’t know about you, but worrying just stresses me out. Rather than worry, we should place our trust in the Creator. We can trust that he will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He stands with his arms wide open saying, “Come child. Come here and let me hold you. Let me wrap my arms around you. Relax. Don’t be afraid, because I have a marvelous plan for your life. Trust me on this one.” I take comfort in this thought. The thought that a God, so big and mighty that he can create the stars, would take time out of his day to comfort me. Wow. That is amazing!
Maybe you don’t know where I’m coming from in all of this. Maybe you live one of those “perfect lives” that I dream of. I don’t know. But, I do know that pursuing perfection is not as easy as it sounds. It is probably the hardest act to pull off. Even when things look great on the outside, sometimes the stuff that’s on the inside, isn’t as pretty. We try so hard to make others think that we have it all together because we think that this will make us seem like we are better Christians. We get it inside of our heads that God will love us more if we live perfect little lives. We hide inside ourselves thinking that if we don’t show everyone the pain that we hold inside that it will all go away. But, this is not how it works. What happens is that we find that we can’t keep up the act. The façade falls down. The masked are unmasked. Before we know it, everything we’ve hidden away comes to light and everyone knows our dirty little secrets. I think it’s time to rebel against perfection. I think it’s time to let others see what’s going on. I think it’s time to let our lives become open books so that we can encourage others.
So, let's rebel together. Let's conquer those fears. Let's face the facts. Let's encourage each other to keep the faith and finish the race.