Sunday, April 8, 2012

Peace vs. Fear

I recently shared about the role that fear plays in my life.  Read more here if you missed it.  I wanted to add a little more to that conversation.  

I struggled with pain and nausea for well over a month (as well as non-bloggable female issues for over 6 months) before I finally decided to ask some friends to pray for me.  I don't know why.  It's a little out of character for me since I'm normally a bit loud-mouthed about everything.  

I have a friend whom I've known since 6th grade, and we still have the same connection when we talk no matter how long it's been since our last conversation.  We have been chatting a lot lately, and I simply told her I was having some health issues and would appreciate her prayers.

I thought she would reply with something like, "I'll be praying that you feel better or get some answers soon."  But this friend has a way of always cutting right to the heart of the matter.  Although she had no idea what my health issues were or how I was feeling about them, her reply to me was that she would be praying that fear would not seize my heart.

How did she know?

I believe that she is a woman who listens to God, and he knows me very well.  Her comment stunned me and opened my floodgates.  I sent that poor girl a lengthy email sharing more details about my health concerns and how my mind was going crazy with the possibilities.  And then I admitted to God that I had allowed fear to take hold and asked him to help me trust him.

Through multiple conversations with both God and Jared, I realized where this particular fear had come from.  I was afraid that if I had something seriously wrong, I might wait too long to get appropriate medical care and it would be too late.  My fear was hearing something like, "If only you'd come in sooner, there would have been hope."  This fear related to anything from a hysterectomy to death.  Yes, I actually think about these things. 

And then it clicked.  I know why that sounded familiar.  Several years ago, my grandpa (one of my favorite humans) got a urinary tract infection that he didn't address.  The infection took hold of his body until his whole system was in shock.  It affected many of his organs and caused Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome.  We watched as my previously healthy grandpa slowly went downhill until the day that my dad and grandma had to turn off his ventilator and give him permission to go home.

I know it seems terribly melodramatic to connect my grandpa's death with the pain and nausea plaguing my 30-year-old (almost!) body.  But the connection is fear that has grown out of proportion.  

One morning when I was getting ready to go to yet another fruitless doctor's appointment, my dear old friend sent me a text that said:  "What's the peace vs. fear ratio today?"

Again, she cut right to the heart of the matter.  That was the most insightful question she could have asked me.  And it forced me to stop and examine how far I had allowed fear to wander.  It seems that I need to daily check on the peace vs. fear ratio.

It rained that day, which meant I had to drive to pick up Nolan after school (instead of walking).  I had to arrive quite early to get a parking spot, which gave me a little time to read my Bible (while Griffin and Nora watched Curious George).  So I looked up Bible verses about fear, and then I looked up verses about peace.  Here are some that I found about fear:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4
The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Psalm 34:4
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.  Proverbs 29:25
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Isaiah 41:13
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7
And about peace:
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Isaiah 26:3
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.  2 Peter 1:2
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:4-9
Those last verses, from Philippians, have been following me for months.  God has used these verses to speak to me about so many circumstances, each time highlighting a different section of these verses.  

Sometimes he reminds me to rejoice.  Sometimes he reminds me to present my requests to him and to be thankful for what he has already done.  Now he's challenging me with those nearly impossible words:  do not be anxious about anything.  Whenever fear drives my thoughts down an irrational road, I remember the words of verse 8.  I have to direct my thoughts toward whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.  That doesn't leave room for fear.

I remember a post on Lil Blue Boo featuring this shirt:

The shirt was made for the auction to benefit Ashley, the author of Lil Blue Boo.  I can't seem to find this shirt for sale anymore.  Lucky for me, I think I can make a little something.  I have a solid-colored shirt and some printable iron-on sheets.  Hmmm...I'll see what I can do.

This is clearly one of those areas where God is working on me but the work is not finished.  Does fear overstep its boundaries in your life?  Let's put it in its place.  I know I'll need loving reminders to check my peace vs. fear ratio.  Perhaps daily.  But I know that letting God change my relationship with fear will be life-changing for me.


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