“Fear is very much a story we tell ourselves, so I choose to tell myself another story”
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
On our way home from a recent beach trip Ben and I were reliving the glory days of our dating life in college. In other words we were laughing about how ridiculous we were in both love and everything else. I had sudden flash backs of my former crazy self. It all started because I asked Ben why he had broken up with a previous girlfriend and his response was “I think she was a little clingy or something” (men are super descriptive).
This made me burst out in laughter because clingy is a step up from the kind of crazy I was when we were dating. Before Ben I had been in a series of ugly relationships were both parties were severely selfish and I ended up with a busted heart and a little crazy in the brain. Then I met Ben who was both perfect and way out of my reach (don’t you love how family will always tell you the truth) and I laughed at the idea that I had experienced real love before him. I knew he was the illusive “one” BUT instead of being excited about finding an amazing man who loved me I was terrified I might lose him. So what do fearful girls do the boy they desperately love and fear losing more than life itself? We cling tighter, thus suffocating our significant other in an attempt to maintain control.
I took crazy to a whole new level when we were dating but managed to mask it well enough to get him to marry me. (Your welcome babe) I used to sit up at night waiting for him to call and if he hadn’t called by a certain time I would come up with elaborate stories of how he had either died or left me for Jessica Biel because those were the only two options when you are hoped up on both love and fear.
Fear is much like a pet, it starts out cute and manageable but the more you feed it the bigger it gets, and the bigger it gets the more it hinders daily life. Slowly it makes you see things that aren’t there, it makes you worry about things you have no business worrying about, and it owns a little part of your soul. Fear is no friend, it is no pet, and fear is the enemy of living a full life. Fear hinders it does not protect, it consumes it does not set you free, and it overrides wisdom with its intense emotion and heart quickening whispers.
We cannot control the onset of the emotion but we can control how much it devours of our life. We can starve fear with truth. We uproot it from our life when we combat it with the wisdom of what we know to be true. Fully knowing my husband now I know that if he forgets to call its cause he hates the phone and it turns out Jessica Biel has never even visited his engineering firm. I also know he loves me and is a loyal husband and father to our kids. I know him, so when fear creeps in I replay the tape of truth instead of coming up with a story of fear.
I also know that God is a good father and trustworthy with my heart so even when I am not OK I will be OK. I think my fear in dating was part not knowing Ben’s full character part not believing God wanted good things for me. This is why I tell girls not to date guys they wouldn’t want to marry because your heart can be tattered before it is ever broken. I took all my brokenness and projected it on Ben and then begged him to prove me wrong.
The flip side of the fear was that I was not believing God had good things in store for me, I thought God wouldn’t give me a man like Ben because I knew the kind of woman I had been. I thought God wanted to punish me not bless me. Why would God bless someone who had run from him for so long? Because he loved me and he never gives us what we deserve. He gives us grace, mercy, redemption, and a chance to start new.
The lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Psalms 118:6
You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. Proverbs 34:11
Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1-3
I understand now that there are real fears that are crippling, much more significant than a breakup. I have kids, I have had scary dr. apts, and phone calls that dropped me to my knees. But I also know fear never prepares you for the unexpected, it doesn’t aid in your faith, and it doesn’t help you when real gut wrenching heart ache enter your world. Fear is simply hoping we can control the outcome of a very terrifying world. We can’t. We can’t control people and we can rarely really control life. We have to trust and choose to pour truth over fears lies, and we must believe God is good even when life is not.