This isn’t the first time I have been vulnerable on this site, nor is it the first time that I have written about my struggles with fear, in fact it is the 3rd blog on that topic. Fear seems to be a recurring topic and struggle for me and I’m assuming, for you too.
Fear is tricky. Fear can keep us stagnate and in a depression, but it can also result in some of the greatest moments of our lives. How can something manage to produce both highs and lows?
A few years back I went skydiving. My friend took me and a few others up with her to a place where she completed dozens of jumps. I was pumped! I had so much nervous energy it was ridiculous. I was going to do a tandem jump, so I strapped my instructor on my back like he was a backpack (weight restrictions required me to have the smallest instructor and it was pretty comical our size difference), climbed in the plane. As we climbed higher and higher I was getting more excited. Then the instructor yelled in my ear to climb out on the wing. We weren’t doing the stereotypical out of the cargo door jump. I had to climb out onto the wing before I would basically fall backwards. I climbed out no problem and then when I was told to remove one hand at a time and put them on my chest, I think my fear took over. And by I think, I mean…it definitely did. I “misheard” him a couple times and kept shuffling my hands one direction or the other on the strut. Finally I understood him and put one hand on my chest while the other hand gripped the strut with all of its strength. I literally was looking at my hand and telling it to let go, but my body wasn’t having any of that. It was petrified of what might happen, of what might end in pain. Finally the instructor grabbed my hand and pulled it to my chest. I had no choice at that point, but to fall backwards and trust my instructor would do whatever was necessary to keep me safe. Not only did he keep me safe, but those few minutes were exhilarating and I would love to go again.
This past week a good friend/mentor/counselor of mine was in town. During his time here we had a few hours to process through recent happenings in both of our lives. Granted I did most of the talking, but we both were able to talk about some things that were on our mind. One of the topics we discussed was fear. You see, I had sent him an email a couple weeks prior telling him I was struggling what I had described as “fear that was approaching debilitating.”
I was stuck. Stuck in a place and time where I wanted to plan for the future (in a wide variety of ways), but not doing anything. I needed to talk to my brother and mom about my future, but I was afraid of what their reactions would be. Don’t get me wrong. They gave me absolutely no reason to fear this, they have been nothing but supportive my whole life. That was the problem. My fear was filling my head with lies.
A big decision is approaching in which I must decide if I am to return to the US and get a so-called “normal” job with a “normal” paycheck or if after a year in the US (An agreement between the US and Germany requires a year back in the US every five years.) would I come back to Germany and continue working with GEM. Let me show you a glimpse into my head as to how the fear was wrecking me:
If I go back to the US for good, I will have to find, interview and get a job.
What if I don’t like that job?
I might have to move to another new place, where I know no one.
I would have to find new friends to satisfy my extroverted tendencies.
I would be leaving the families and friends that I have developed over five years here in Germany.
I may not even live much closer to my mom and brother.
So many things that I can’t control. So much in the distance, just out of my view. So many reasons to make the “easier” choice by staying in my apartment, in my little village and with my job. Not that being a missionary is “easy,” but having to move to a brand-new place and start a brand-new job with brand-new co-workers, etc. isn’t exactly easy either.
My brain wanted me to settle for “easy” because there was less chance of failing, less new that could be tough, less ways for me to affirm all of my fears.
The problem is, none of that matters.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41: 10 & 13
I love the imagery in these verses, but specifically verse 13. When I was a kid and afraid, nothing could allay those fears quite like my mom or dad grabbing my hand a giving a little squeeze to let me know that everything was fine, no matter what. How much better could it be than the God of the universe saying, “I’m holding your hand. I am here to help.” It may not be easy, it may not be perfect, but He is here to help.