Friday, June 20, 2014

Where The Rubber Hits The Road-Addressing Fear Head On

Pardon any typos. I'm typing with tears in my eyes and a Texas-sized knot in my stomach.

What is causing me to weep uncontrollably and to cry out to Jesus for His protection?

My kids are going to a party with my neighbor and her 5 kids.

At her church. 

Unthinkable, right?

In case you're waiting for me to reveal why I'm nearly fetal in my kitchen, desperately texting a friend for support, read the third and fourth lines again. 

Yep, I think I've officially lost it (not that there was much left to "lose" anyway.)

I wrote a series on Anxiety called The Anxious Mom that explores my fears surrounding my kids and dives into scripture to combat this gut-wrenching affliction. 

I have been doing pretty well since writing those posts and really understanding what my anxiety and fear are all about: not trusting God. 

And then today, during the course of a perfectly innocent day when my kids went to the neighbor's house to play, it came down on me like a ton of bricks. 

It was a casual call from my neighbor, asking if the kids could stay for lunch.

I answered with a hearty "SURE!", happy for them to have a break from the everyday.

And then she asked if she could take them to her church for a Frozen party, where they will be watching the movie and having snacks. 

Here is where my enthusiasm waned a bit, but I'm happy to report that my initial thought was "Oh that will be fun! They'll love that!"

It was as I was texting my husband to tell him about the invitation that I felt like 1,000 lbs of weight was added to my stomach.

I immediately went into panic mode and had an anxiety attack. I went from "Won't that be fun!" to "Oh my gosh they can't go or something terrible will happen and I'll never see them again!" in 3.2 seconds flat. It was a record for me, I'm sure.

I texted my husband back that I couldn't send them. I told him "my gut says no."

He supported me, of course, but I'm sure he was disappointed for them and a little baffled at my sudden change of opinion. 

I even called my neighbor to explain that I just couldn't let them go. She is familiar with my anxiety and I was very honest about why I was saying no.

Unfortunately, one of her kids had accidentally let it slip to my kids about the party and they were all very excited. 

I was torn in two trying to decide the best course of action: say no and disappoint everyone involved at the expense of kids, just so that I would know they'd be "safe" with me or say yes and put my trust where it really belongs: with God. 

Here is one of those (sometimes) rare opportunities where I get to walk my faith.

And I am hating every minute of it.

Growing in our faith requires that we live it out, not just talk about it. 
We must take a step...and that step is often very hard, but God is with us every moment. 

Truthfully, I would much rather write or talk about walking a life of bold faith than to actually live it!

I felt God saying, "You know how you've been telling people you're doing well with anxiety since doing the study and writing all those posts? Here's your chance to put into practice all the things I taught you during that journey."

And I was filled with dread.

What? Put my trust in God to protect my babies? Let them go with my neighbor to a place filled with people I don't know and participate in activities I haven't approved?

Can't I just continue writing about how well I'm doing and how You have delivered me from the battle with anxiety? Can't I just keep posting encouraging verses and Pins to Facebook about how we trust in You?

Are you kidding me, God?

Sadly, He wasn't.

I  knew exactly what I was experiencing.

Anxiety is a feeling of dread over an irrational fear. 

Could something happen to my children while they are with my neighbor.


That terrifies me, yes, but the real root of my fear was that I would have to suffer losing them.

If I am completely transparent here, I will admit that my fears usually revolve around me having to suffer in some way. 

I fear for my children because I love them with every single fiber of my being. 

I ache for them, I love them so much.

I don't ever want anything to happen to them because I don't want them to experience pain and I don't want  to have to experience pain either.

So, when I look the real reason for my fear in the eye, I see that it's doubt that God has me and my kids in His hands.

And the hard reality of that is that believing that He has us in His hands does not equate safety.

Bad things happen all the time.

Truly believing that God has us means that I know no matter what happens, He will take care of me and my kids. Even if tragedy strikes.

That's the hard Truth that takes my breath away. 

And I so desperately want to be one of those people who actually believe what they preach and whose faith is evident. 

And--perhaps most importantly--I want to be an example of living, active, sold-out faith to my kids.

My oldest, who's 9, didn't want to go because he was nervous to go without me (and just maybe him seeing me sobbing in the kitchen, worried about them going had a tiny part in his feeling that way), so I sat him down after praying for the Holy Spirit to take over my fearful heart and put my faith in action. 

I explained to him that he and I are a lot alike. 

I told him that my mom worried a lot when I was growing up and she didn't like me to do things without her. As a result, I missed out on a lot of fun activities and probably some amazing experiences.

Now, of course, I understand that gut-wrenching fear that mandates I keep my children close for fear of the unknown. 

I told him that I didn't want to see him grow up always afraid of what he doesn't know or what he's afraid might happen. I explained that I realize that God is ultimately the One who really protects us and that I want him to experience things in life without fear. 

And I am simultaneously thrilled and heart broken to report that he decided to go with the others. 

So, today was a step in breaking the cycle of allowing fear to dictate our lives. 

One step of a bazillion, perhaps, but a step nonetheless. 

I hate it with everything in me, but I am so pleased to be living a life of faith in God with purpose and diligence (like the tagline for Deliberate Women's website.)

And now, with only 2 of the 6 kids home, I am realizing that this is actually something I have written about and begged for for some time: peace and quiet. 

Funny how it is sometimes, isn't it? We pray for things and then when God presents us with the opportunity to have them, we often don't recognize it for what it is.

May I never stop learning from and leaning into my Savior. 

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