The only thing to fear…
I had one of those mom-daughter conversations today in which my perspective changed as a result of one little comment made by my mother. This isn’t the first time, of course, and parents are apt to do this without even realizing the effect they have on their children. A seemingly innocuous statement can often have profound implications for the future. And I have experienced this phenomenon before, in exactly this same way, with my mother. But today, it really did sneak up on me.
The conversation was quite casual and was not intending to be of any great consequence as other conversations have in the past, but Mom went on to tell me that she had spoken with my campus pastor on Sunday following our Romania reflections service and the conversation led to a comment about my desire to return there full-time. Mom related that she and my dad said, “We’ve always believed Jules would be a missionary of some kind. We’ve always sort of known this. She’s the strongest of our children.”
The strongest. I was surprised to hear the words, surprised further that my parents feel this way. I don’t feel this way. I have never felt this way. My first reaction is almost always fear. Of everything. Certainly of anything that is new or different from what I know. But that is not how my parents see me. They see strength. And upon turning this over in my mind today I have come to understand that what they see is who I truly am.
I can live in fear. It’s easy to live in fear. But several years ago I decided to make a conscious effort to not choose fear. It’s an effort. Still, it’s my first response to most every new situation. I first choose to be afraid, and then I choose to push past the fear. But fear always comes first. I’ve prayed over this stronghold for many, many years, yet I still experience this emotion before any other. But now, with my mom’s words echoing in my heart, I understand that I am not truly afraid like I thought I was. It’s not fear that I’m overcoming; it’s actually fear that I’m choosing. I am choosing to be afraid first, and then I’m making the effort to overcome it. But fear is actually my crutch. Fear is what I choose to fall back on instead of tapping into my strength and stepping forward to do the work. In the end, I always step forward, I always accomplish that which I first shy away from. But first I allow the fear.
I am amazed at how simple these answers come, and I’m awed at God’s faithfulness to answer my prayers. Long have I prayed to conquer fear in my life, and now He shows me that it’s been conquered all along. At my core I am not a fearful person; I am a strong person. And that is how I need to live. This is who I truly am. I now see the lie that has kept me down for so much of my life. How glorious to step back into the Light and have the blinders removed! How awesome of God to choose this very moment to remove this hindrance from my heart! The Dream Giver speaks about stepping through the “invisible wall of fear.” How can something invisible be of any consequence to me?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)