When Fears Consume Us

I have a great fear that has hung with me since I was a child. It haunts me and it’s also inevitable. When I think about it, my body goes cold, I feel sick, and my mind is trapped in a prison of panic. My fear is of eternity. It’s a puzzle I can’t solve. It’s a hypothetical with no conclusion. It’s my destiny.

I’ve asked my parents, teachers, mentors, counselors, and friends what the best way to deal with it is. Some say suppress it, others have not had the fear of eternity and don’t understand mine, and others have advised I think of something else when the fear creeps in. I’ve tried it all.

Lately, the thoughts of eternity have been running in the background of my mind. Now that I’m not obsessively thinking about guys, I guess my mind needed something else to continuously ponder unhealthily. Eternity, it is.

However, things are changing for me. I’m hosting  a workshop at this conference in March and the topic is spiritual warfare. Due to the nature of the subject, I’ve been studying angels, demons, and the devil. Not a topic I get into daily. As I’ve been studying Satan – who he is, his career, motives, and end goal – I’ve found he began his rebellion in deception, lives to deceive believers as a hindrance to the work of God at present, and seeks to rule in God’s place by ultimately deceiving the world into believing he is God.

Knowing this, the thought occurred to me yesterday, am I misconstruing my fear of eternity as God-given, instead of an attack from Satan? If Satan’s goal is to deter me from the work of God, what greater way could he do that than terrifying me into distancing myself from my Creator? Fear is a powerful thing and we can allow it to control us.

Last night, as anxiety churned in my stomach for far too long, I decided things were going to be different. No more! Satan has been using this fear in me for far too long and it stops now. I wrote a letter to God last night writing out my fears in detail and asking Him to remove them.

“Lord, I pray that You remove the fear and anxiety from me in Your divine, perfect will. I pray that You replace it with peace, confidence, and a hope of things unseen. Show me an alternate way to think of life that never ends. Show me joy, gratitude, and anticipation. Forgive me for dreading Your greatest gift. Father, walk with me in this one. Let Satan have no jurisdiction here. You are greater than my fear. You are so good. Have me see that. Have me live that.”

What fear is controlling you? Have you given it to God yet?

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Fool Proof Marriage

Writing this post could potentially seem odd because I am not married, so some may think it obvious that an ignorant single in her twenties could write something titled, “Fool Proof Marriage”. Stay with me though. This is coming from Ephesians, and, well, Paul wasn’t married either.

Ephesians 5 and 6 have traditionally been loved and hated by many. We all love the concept of “walking in love” and “taking up the armor of God.” What fantastic imagery and an ideal reality! Then comes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ew. Don’t like that. “Children obey your parents”? No. “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters”?!?!?! Not okay. Even though pastors smoothly cover it as employees honoring their bosses and working for the Lord.

But it was Ephesians 5 I found myself reading the other day and I came across some amazing ties between codependency and Christianity.

The part that drew my attention was the section on husbands. Check this out:
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'”

We see that God placed some fool proof backups into the institution of marriage. In Genesis, God designed man and woman to become one. In so doing, a marriage could never be torn apart. And why would it? Our ego has wired us to survive. No matter how hungry you are, you won’t eat yourself. We are not prone to self-cannibalization. Ideally, you can’t do something to destroy you spouse because that, in turn, would be self-destruction.

However, the problem comes from behind the ego. The part of your subconscious you live with daily but don’t allow yourself to acknowledge. Why did Jesus say divorce had been placed into the Law? It was because of man’s hardness of heart.

How can someone love another as they love themselves if they don’t know what it means to love themselves? That was trippy. In other words, how can you love someone else if you inwardly dislike yourself?

Many of us have been shown from a very young age a distorted version of love. It may look like abandonment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, enmeshment, or an expectation for you to behave beyond your capabilities. We take this on as normal and “love” our spouse in the same way. We shame them. We hit them. We drain them emotionally or we deprive them of emotional intimacy. We keep score of all their mistakes and hold them to a standard we could never meet ourselves. This is how we were treated and it’s what we believe we deserve.

Codependency recovery largely involves working through past shame and fear that keep you from liking yourself as a person. Knowing and believing that God loves and likes you for who you are. When we choose to step up to our past pain and unravel the shame that holds our identity in its grasp, we can begin to love God and love ourselves. It’s only then, that we can love our spouse as we love ourselves.

God created a fool proof institution that reflects the love He has for us. Living in a world that is broken emotionally and mentally, we miss the beauty of the ideal. However, it’s not impossible to gain. Change does not begin with your spouse (or for single people, your roommates), it begins with you. It begins with your relationship with God and your recovery. When two people come together and each live under the sovereign love of God, the love they can then give to each other is miraculous. It’s a mind blowing picture of the love God has for His Son and the love His Son has for us.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Let’s Talk About Shame, Bay-bee

I’m going to get Christian for a second, because I am a Christian, and Christians do that. Read this amazing part of Ephesians about shame:

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”

So, first off, we have all taken part in things we shouldn’t have. It’s part of being human. If you’re like me, there are stories of things you’ve done from kindergarten up that you’d prefer be left between you and God. There are also stories of things that have been done to you by others that you would prefer to keep hidden. Why? Because it’s embarrassing! It’s shameful! And we’ve all been working pretty hard at forming a perception we’d like people to hold us in. If anyone found out about the bad stuff, well, they wouldn’t think of us the same anymore. If we begin to process the bad stuff in our lives, it might be hard to keep moving through life afterwards.

However, carrying around our shameful stories is a burden. It hinders us from truly being ourselves and liking ourselves. It holds us back from really being alive.

When we uncover and process WITH SOMEONE WE TRUST the things we have kept hidden in the dark, they become visible. You’re not the only one who knows. That thing has now officially been revealed and can no longer fester and plague you. It has gone from darkness to the light of day.

Paul wrote in Ephesians, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Christ shining on you, is you receiving life and freedom! One shameful story at a time. You were not created to walk around carrying a burden of shame. You were created to experience the joy of a life with God.

Most people choose to live in shame because it’s comfortable. Misery can become a nice companion, but it will hold you in darkness and lead you through a life of confusion and discontentment. Until we ask God for the courage to bring our stuff to light, we are walking through life dead. That’s an eery thought. I can say from experience on both sides that it’s true.

Bringing my shameful stories to light is scary and painful, but the feeling of freedom and a fresh start afterwards, is beyond expression. If there is something in your life plaguing you and holding you in darkness, bring it to the light. When it’s brought to the light, Christ will shine on you and you will be changed forever.