11 Oct What Do I Do with Fear?
I secretly hope my neighbors aren’t watching as I back out of my driveway. I would say that I’m better now, but I used to fear that the front end of my car was going to hit the side of my husband’s truck.
I would snake up my steep driveway and take out some of our grass along the way. Thanks to me, there is a stunning, muddy ditch at the base of our driveway. My car in reverse used to resemble me as a child swimming backstroke; I never trusted the overhead flags and was sure I would smack my head into the end of the pool if I didn’t look behind me to check. I never made it far in my swimming career.
I’ve since discovered a way to place my fear in perspective. When the garage door is down, I can see the reflection of my car and my husband’s car through the garage windows. Even though it looks like I am about to take out the side of his car, the reflection assures me that I’m moving as I should. Now, because of the reflection, I don’t always have to have the garage door down. I have been exposed to the true reflection, and I am able to reverse more confidently.
“When I allow my fears to control me, I’m actually wrongly believing that I am controlling them.”
Fear causes us to react in crazy ways. Whether we freeze in doubt, move in misguided patterns, or look around to see who is watching, fear can easily control us and tempt us to believe its lies. In my opinion, we have two choices when it comes to the fear that is trying to grab onto us: we can allow fear to control us and direct our steps, or we can acknowledge the holy God who has real control. My driveway is a silly example in the midst of larger fears that I experience—fear of man, threats to my comfort and security, the twists and turns of raising a toddler, and the list could go on. I’ve taken both routes in response to my fears, and, I have experienced different outcomes with each. When I allow my fears to control me, I’m actually wrongly believing that I am controlling them. I’m making plans, I’m voicing these plans to people around me, and I’m on the move. My plans and attempts to control my fears lead me into a tailspin of misguided activity and anxiousness.
In Genesis 32, Jacob is returning to his home country after sojourning for 20 years with Laban. With each step towards his brother Esau, the brother that Jacob tricked into handing over his birthright, Jacob is facing his fear head-on. When Jacob hears that Esau is coming to meet him on his journey, “Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed” (Genesis 32:7a, ESV). He then makes a plan to divide his family and his wealth into two camps in case Esau is out to destroy him. After he devises his plan, he cries out to God in prayer. THIS! It takes us so long to get here, but it is right where we need to be when it comes to our fears. Jacob shifted his focus from the fear that was ahead of him to the promises God had already spoken to him. Jacob humbled himself before God and was strengthened to move forward.
“My plans and attempts to control my fears lead me into a tailspin of misguided activity and anxiousness.”
Fear is such a part of this broken world. We look ahead as if God were not already there. In prayerful dependence, we are reminded of God’s presence in the midst of our weakness. By remembering God’s faithfulness and his promises found within his word, we will find freedom, boldness, surrender, and obedience. As I inch backward, up and out of my driveway, I am reminded that what I see is not always as it appears to be.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” —Psalm 16:8 (ESV)
Margaret is a Columbia native who moved “up north” to Greenville a few years ago. You can usually find her in the cul-de-sac with her two-year-old sidekick, Hadley, and a few extra kids who show up for snacks. She has a huge crush on her husband, Schuyler. Margaret attends the Pelham campus.