Once my fear is triggered, everything feels ready to crash down around me. If one area seems out of control, ALL areas feel out of control and I run for cover.
I even start to plan for things that might happen. Maybe a health crisis will strike (**cough** coronavirus). Maybe my marriage will get shaky. Maybe my kids will get hurt. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Then, I seek reassurance and peace in places other than God.
People. Books. Essential oils. Naps.
Really, I am internally just grasping for some solid ground to stand on until my anxiety dissipates enough to see things clearer. Until I can remember that God has us in his righteous right hand, and nothing is too big or scary for him.
Believing that God has good things for me, and loves me, is tough to do when I am freaking out about things. He suddenly seems far away and uninvolved. Invisible.
And that is when fear sets in.
Some say fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real.”
Some say it is a lack of faith.
Some say it is a result of trauma.
Some say it is a gift because sometimes there actually IS a wolf chasing you.
I just say it sucks. And I want to get it out of my life.
God told us not to fear, so he must know that we can see victory in this area.
When I read Psalms, I see that fear is no modern problem. And David spoke a lot about his fears, both imagined and real. He knew what it was to fear, and he knew what it was to trust.
In a message Tim Keller preached about anxiety, he used this quote by a man named Ernest Becker, who said, “I think that taking life seriously means something such as this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation, of the grotesque, of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise, it is false.”
I so relate to that, “A rumble of panic underneath everything.” Sometimes I have days where I feel that rumble of panic beneath the surface. Nobody would know it, but it is there.
Tim Keller goes on to say that most books about anxiety tell us to just “visualize a good outcome.” But, he points out that King David did not do that. He prayed all of his worst fears before God. He went there. He imagined the worst possible situations and cried out to God for help. Even in the imagined fears. But David always knew how to bring it back around, didn’t he? He flipped out, but somehow, he ended up trusting in his God for safety.
And his solution was this: to gaze on God’s beauty.
This is the thing. I most fear in areas that I have allowed to become unbalanced. In areas I have placed over God. Marriage, kids, health, security.
When we follow the true root of our anxiety, we will usually find what we worship. What we idolize. I panic over dying because to leave my family is my worst fear. It is hard to admit, but my family is my ONE thing, and I have got to find a way to make God my ONE thing.
Good things cannot replace God. Or we will be tormented.
St. Augustine said, “Here’s where anxiety comes from. All of us have good things in our lives, and we love them, and we desire them. Good things! Parents and children are good things. A career is a good thing. Romance is a good thing. Sex is a good thing. All sorts of things are good things. We have lots of good things in our lives.”
He also said, “Anxiety is always a sign of the collapse of a false god.”
In order to really know someone, you have to be with them. A lot. In order to make God our highest and only “thing,” we have to spend time gazing on him and viewing all of life through the lens of our love for him.
We have to get to the point of “Even if all of my worst fears take place, even if my mother, father, spouse forsake me, God is my all.”
In a way, I am grateful I have an answer.
I’m thankful to know that if I follow my fear to the worst place, I see what enslaves me. I see why I am so terrified.
May I start today and ask God to help me, teach me, and show me his beauty. I don’t want to put everything else in front of him. I want him to be the beautiful thing that fills my mind at all times. And then I know I will be freer from fear.
“I seek to know Him, and I gaze on God’s beauty. 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
After all, who else do we have on earth and in heaven, but Him?