I got a chance to hear one of my favorite speakers today at church, Nancy Lindroth. She shared this morning about worry. She shared her personal struggles and then offered some helpful words of wisdom. One quote stuck me.
Henry Nouwen writes…
“That is the walk of faith – walking with the Lord, always walking away from familiar places. Do you choose life? Or are you choosing death, that fearful place where you hang on to what you are most familiar with? Ecstatic living, real joy, is precisely connected with stepping onto unknown ground, trusting that you are in safe hands.”
This quote physically hurts. It’s as if it stabs at something tightly knit into my hard wiring. Fear is a part of me. It’s almost as if there is no escaping it. It is as natural to me as eating and breathing. It is a presence I’ve learned to live with and manage only just a little.
I’m afraid of things most of us are afraid of… getting ill, losing someone I love, being injured, seeing my children suffer, poverty, and the list goes on.
But my primary, foundational fear is fear of the consequences of my influence and presence in people’s lives. Will I mess people up? Will my children be healthy emotionally and spiritually? Will my friends be grateful they knew me? Will they feel blessed or burdened by having known me?
This is the weight around my shoulders – a constant worry that I’m either not doing enough for someone, or I’ve done the wrong thing. And its not just “someone,” a one person at a time kind of worry. Its a thick, blanketing, terror, that my life is a waste, my relationships are a wash, and that if I don’t get myself together, I’m going to leave some sort of wake of destruction behind me.
Doesn’t that seem crazy? It does to me when I see it there in writing. I know it’s not TRUE, although there are shades of truth in there, mixed with tons of just plain crap. The fear though is keeping me from so much. From enjoying friendships and other relationships I’m in, from enjoying my children, and from trying new things.
I don’t know how God will free me from this, but I know He wants to. I know other women who struggle with different kinds of fears that I can see Him helping. I think just writing it down helps in a way – identifying the icky stuff and seeing it’s not quite as menacing and deadly as it feels when it’s just a cloud of anxiety and fretfulness.
I’m interested in why I worry about this in particular. I’m interested in why some of my other friends worry about other issues so much. What are the roots of these very painful burdens? Events, people, sin (of course), wounds, lies, Satan…
In my own life, it’s helped to trace these feelings down to their deepest root. Then I can pray that God would help me forgive, or just see whatever it is with His perspective.
I’m jumping on this one now – fear and worry – and I’m chasing it down until I find out the “Why.” Then maybe I can caste off the weight and release the worry.
May God give us all the courage to trust Him, to acknowledge that He never hard wires any of us to be innately worrisome and fearful, that having complete control is not possible or desirable, and that the uncertainty of life is purposeful as it drives us to Him…
…and that for me, I would feel free to relate in love, understanding we are all fallen and all in need of grace and second chances.