“As afraid as I am of failure, I’m that much more afraid of success. I hate fear! I hate the feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I'm afraid! I hate the way it takes over my body and almost cripples me. I thought fear was something I left behind a long time ago, but it has followed me into adulthood and somehow become an unwanted acquaintance.”
For years, these words defined me. Not only was I afraid to try; I was afraid to fail, and if I did succeed the next thing would have to be better than the last. I wasn’t always this way. I left the college I was attending back in 2013; however, I still attended school online and locally in the fall of 2013 and 2014. When I moved back home, my plan was to take a gap year, and resume school the following year; however, things did not turn out this way. When you do things other people expect you to do and neglect what is best for you, it leads to an unhappy life. I’ve never really talked about this; I think because I the time I did not know how to verbalize it. I could not fully understand what was going on with me. My last semester away was one of the darkest places I have ever been in my life.
Currently, at my church, Pastor Daddy is talking about “The Proper Strategy for our Adversary” and one of his main scriptures is Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This is so true and it was very true for me at the time, but I did not know what I was dealing with; therefore, I did not know how to fight it. When you hold things inside, they will come to the surface eventually. It may be a verbal outburst, a physical illness, or mental distress (i.e., depression). For me, things surfaced physically and mentally. Hold on! Let me back track and catch you up.
At the end of my freshman year, I knew that I was not going to graduate from the school that I was attending. In the last semester of my senior year of high school, I had a choice between two schools. I do believe God led me to choose the second school because he knew what was ahead of me. In high school, we always talked about defending our faith and staying strong as Christians when we went to college. I never thought that if I went to a Christian university I would face spiritual warfare. In the spring of 2012, I was not motivated at all. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else. Upon returning to school the following semester for my sophomore year, I changed my major thinking everything would be better. It was for a short time; however, spring semester rolled around again, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere else. This is when I knew that no matter how difficult it was I would have to leave school. For months, I held in the feeling of discontentment and loneliness. I made it to spring break! This semester is halfway over and I'm telling myself I can make it to the end. When I went home for spring break, I told my parents that I did not want to return to school in the fall. I remember having this long conversation with my dad and talking about how God had led me to this particular school. At this time I couldn't really verbalize why I didn't want to go back to school, but I just said I didn't want to be there anymore. So spring break has come to an end and I'm headed back to school with the mindset of six more weeks and I'm finished. I'm just going to keep my head in my books and do my work and finish out the semester. At this point in the year you would think things were perfect. I had an internship, I was in the major that I wanted, and everything should've been great. At this point, everything that I had been feeling for the past year, I had been holding it inside. I had a smile on my face throughout the day, but cried myself to sleep at night. I was hurting and no one knew until what I was feeling started to manifest on the outside of my body. And no, it wasn’t something that I could just cover up. The devil had me right where he wanted me. I was lonely, disappointed, sleep-deprived, and depressed. I was looking for people and things to fill a God-sized hole. What started out as a pimple, turned into an infection that took over almost the whole right side of my face; it even spread down to my chest and neck area. I couldn’t hide that, but I could hide myself. I couldn’t let people see me like that. I couldn’t let people know that I wasn’t okay. I pulled away from everyone close to me, including God.
At this point, I desperately wanted to pray, but it’s like I couldn’t even form my lips to say anything. I felt like I couldn’t talk to my friends, family, or God so what was I supposed to do? I decided to go to the school counselor’s office. I went to the office, filled out the paper work, and waited for my appointment. I was called back to the office, and who do I see sitting in the chair? One of my peers – a fellow student who was probably the same age as me! This can’t be real! Am I being punked? I sat down in the chair across from him, anxiously plotting my escape. He told me that he would be seeing me today, but that an actual ADULT (my words, not his) would review his notes and schedule a follow up. I smiled, but was really rolling my eyes inside. “What brings you in today?” he started. Before I could get two words out, the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate the building. I jumped out of my seat, and bolted out of the door! He called behind me about rescheduling, but I had no intent of ever returning to that office. This was a total fail! Thank God I had people praying for me when I didn’t know how to pray for myself.
During this time, I had strained relationships with friends at school and back home, and this was because I wanted them to be something for me that only God was supposed to be – I AM. By the time the semester ended, all that was left was a discolored scar on my face where the infection had been. I saw two doctors while I was at school and my regular doctor when I came home, and none of them were able to tell me what happened to my body. They guessed it was a staph infection, but they had no clue.
When I moved back home, everything was different, yet the same. It’s like someone had dropped me in a time warp. I am here in this familiar place with these familiar people, yet I still feel like I don’t belong. I was stuck in this place for a while. At school, a friend told me about this book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. The author, Joanna Weaver, makes a comparison with Mary’s “Living Room" intimacy to Martha’s “kitchen busyness.” (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44; John 12:1-11) In the book, she writes, “We can get caught up in the same performance trap, feeling as though we must prove our love for God by doing great things for him. So we rush past the intimacy of the Living Room and get busy for him in the Kitchen…We do all our works in his name. We call him ‘Lord, Lord.’ But in the end, will he know us? Will we know him?” [p. 9] I wanted so desperately to cry out to God, to spend time with him, but I felt like I had to get myself together first. Also, I want to take her example just a little bit further. What if we not only bypass “Living Room” intimacy, but we keep God in the living room? It was like I wanted to commit myself to God, but I didn’t want to give my ugly parts. Here I am God, but let me get over this depression first. Here I am, but let me get over this fear first. Here I am, but let me get over this loneliness first. It’s like we think God doesn’t already see our brokenness so we want to clean up and make room for him. We can’t do this on our own, but so often we try to!
So you’re probably like, what does this have to do with fear? Everything! 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” In verse 16 of that same chapter, it reads, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” And verse 1 says that we should not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, and that brings us full circle back to what I was saying in the beginning. God is love, therefore he casts out fear! (Read 1 John 4) Everything that I experienced, although some of it presented itself in the natural, was spiritual. God will pull you away from people to pull you closer to him, and just the same, the devil will try to pull you away from God to pull you closer to him. Be mindful of which forces you gravitate to.
Fear does have torment, and it will lock you up and trick you into thinking that you’re always supposed to feel this way. Since moving back home, I had become used to feeling of being afraid. Fear had become my new normal. It was an amazing day when I started taking God’s word seriously, speaking his word back to him in prayer, and confessing it over my life. Have you ever asked God to take something away, but you forgot how it felt to live without it? That’s how living fearless was for me. When I was growing up, from elementary through high school, my mom always had my brother and I say daily confessions about our days and what God said about us. I recently revamped mine to fit me exactly where I am in my life. Fear will start out small, like giving a presentation or public speaking, but it can literally turn into you being afraid to leave the house or get out of the bed in the morning. For years, fear was always in the pit of my stomach or in the back of my mind. It was like no matter what I was doing, I knew I wasn’t supposed to be afraid, but I was anyway. The first night I went to bed and woke up the next morning without fear, I was truly in shock. I felt completely at peace. Peace is a beautiful thing. Today I am fearless and living completely and totally with faith in God. When I am faced with fear, I give it to God immediately.
Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid of success. (Psalm 49:16) Anything you face in the natural, ask God to open your spiritual eyes so you can see what is going on spiritually.
GO BE FEARLESS!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7