Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fear and Darkness

When I was little I used to be scared of the dark. I would refuse to walk upstairs in my own house without my parents going up first to turn on the lights. And then when it was time to go to sleep, I would insist that one of my parents stay upstairs until I fell asleep. Cole, my younger brother, had this same fear. It's a crippling fear because it limits a person... if I wanted something upstairs at night and my parents didn't want to go upstairs with me to get it, then I was out of luck.

Last weekend I came to realize that this fear of the dark never really went away. Our house had quite a few friends over to play Body Body and I soon learned... I am still scared of the dark. Body Body is this fun game like mafia where everyone wanders around a dark house and there is one person who is the "killer." They kill people by grabbing their arms. When you are killed, you drop to the ground and are silent. If you stumble upon a dead body, you scream "BODY, BODY!" Then everyone deliberates who they think the killer is. It's really fun, but incredibly scary, especially in the McMansion. Let me tell you, when all the lights are off in the McMansion it is one creepy place. The third floor might as well seem like a dark abyss where the scariest of scary things occur. My fear of the dark, once again, limited me. I was scared to venture off into all parts of the house because it was simply too dark and I couldn't see what was coming and I couldn't trust that I wouldn't run into something quite unfriendly. Therefore, my fear was limiting  me. 

You see, fear is like that... it limits us.

Fear is not just limiting in simple games or when I was little, it limits us in our relationships with the Lord. My fears limit me in my relationship with my Heavenly Father who adores me more than anything in the world.

Fear causes me to not trust the Lord the way that He intends for me to and fear causes me to not see myself how the Lord sees me... That's a problem... And it's one that I haven't quite figured out the answer to.

What am I so afraid of? 

I am afraid of waking up when I am 40 years old and realizing that my life is just mediocre.
I am afraid the people that I love do not know that I love them because I don't tell them enough.
I am afraid the Lord may call me to place that I don't think I am ready for.
I am afraid that I am going to miss out on memories.
I am afraid my friends are going to one day stop wanting to be my friend.
I am afraid of people seeing me fail.
I am afraid of not living up to people's expectations of me.
I am afraid of losing my passion for the Lord.
I am afraid I am one day going to begin to fall for the lies that the world is trying to tell me.
I am afraid that I am not going to follow the Lord's will for my life.
I am afraid of upsetting those around me.
I am afraid of graduating and not having anything to do.
I am afraid of being vulnerable.
I am afraid of failing God.

Each of these fears limits me in some way or another... and I am tired of it. I am tired of being afraid... It's exhausting (Taylor Swift reference friends- Me and fear are never ever getting back together). I have been realizing these fears for a while now. Some of them are ones that go way back and some of them are fears that have just recently developed. Either way, I am ready for these fears to go.

When I was recently reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning I was struck by two things:

1. God's grace is abounding and that grace washes away fears.
"Living by grace inspires a growing consciousness that I am what I 
am in the sight of Jesus and nothing more." - Brennan Manning
2. Our Savior calls us to freedom... freedom of fear.
"He calls ragamuffins everywhere to freedom from the fear of death, 
freedom from the fear of life, and freedom from anxiety 
over our salvation." - Brennan Manning

I need to come to understand God's grace more. I need to understand the power of His grace that is unending and I need to full wrap my head around how much the Lord loves me. 

In John 15, Jesus says, "As the Father has loved me, that's how I love you, now abide in my love."

I want to learn to truly abide in His love... to truly dwell in His love. In those moments, all of those fears will begin to fade away. When I am so enamored with Him, those fears will no longer have a grip on me. 

Lord, I am sorry that I am giving into those fears. I am sorry that I believe the lies that these fears should be real and are valid. God, take away these fears. I am no longer defined by these fears, Jesus, I want to be defined by You. I love You.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Biggest Enemy... Grey.

I have been thinking about this post for a while now and how to best articulate it all. Needless to say, I learned a ton about myself this summer. A ton. The Lord was really working in my heart and He showed me some things about myself that were hard to hear a little bit.

One of the first things I learned was... I hate emotions. Well not all emotions... I really like the warm, fuzzy ones that involve lots of sparkles and happiness, but the other ones that aren't so positive, like sadness, hurt, jealousy, anger... Yea, those ones, I hate. I avoid them like the plague really. I hate feeling or experiencing those emotions, but they're unavoidable. So when I begin to feel any of them, I try my best to identify the emotion and then I tend to run in the other direction, deny them, or bulldoze through them... whichever seems easiest and most appropriate.

There are a lot of reasons that I have come to dislike negative emotions I think, but the biggest one, is that I really really hate grey. I am not talking about the color grey, I am talking about a muddled, undefined, mess kind of grey. One that is the opposite of black and white.

Negative emotions fit into that grey category because they're usually hard to define. It's hard to really identify an emotion as solely anger or sadness. It's usually a combination of many, and at times, it's hard to even find a single word to describe a feeling other than blah.

Negative emotions are not the only thing that categorize the idea of grey. It's anything that is simply undefined or in a between stage. It's neither black nor white.

I've learned that I really prefer black and white. I like to have full understanding of a situation and to handle it immediately. I like the unknown to be discovered and addressed. If there is a conflict, I want to confront it and handle it and move on. If there are questions, let's ask them. If there is a misunderstanding, let's address it. I want to identify any emotion and wash it away instantly.

I would rather leave the grey, unknown, stuff for other people.

The issue is: I don't have control in the grey area.

The grey area scares me because there is tension and it isn't defined. I can't organize and fix everything when it's in the grey area. I lose control when I am sitting in the grey area.

And God has told me, "It's okay." It's okay to be in the grey area. In fact, it's more than okay to be in grey areas. The Lord calls us to grey areas at times. And for me, He calls me to grey areas because then I have to trust Him more than ever.

Sometimes, we simply must REST.

I don't have to fix everything. I don't have to confront every issue head on as soon as it arises. I don't have to make decisions instantaneously. I don't have to act on every thought. I don't have to identify every emotion.

I must be still.

There's a lot being thrown at me right now since I'm a senior, but I am not going to drive through it. I am going to take it slow and I am going to rest and be still along the way.

By resting and being still, I am TRUSTING the Lord. I trust that His plan is better than my own. I trust that He knows my heart better than I do. I trust that He knows what I will be doing next year even when I don't.

In the midst of learning all of this and realizing it about myself, I went on the Young Life leader retreat at Windy Gap. And there I learned our Young Life area's theme verses...
"Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." - Psalm 37:7 
"Be still and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10
So I am choosing to hang out in the grey area for a little bit... in the unknown. There may be lots of questions and chaos all around me, but the Lord has this under control. I don't need to fix anything right now or try to figure anything out... the Lord is handling it.

For once, I am going to try to be still and enjoy the grey.