For as long as I can remember, FEAR has been an issue in my life. I have been afraid and fearful of many things:
- Fear of heights
- Fear of failure
- Fear of illness
- Fear of snakes
- Fear of the dark
- Fear of other people
- Fear of being rejected
- Fear of being abandoned
- Fear of what others think of me
- Fear of people discovering who I really was...
- Fear of being the victim of a crime or a violent act
- Fear of my Dad (he was a strict disciplinarian and had a terrifying, loud voice when he was angry. He demanded respect. - please know I am not judging my Dad. It was who he was - he had his own life story. I loved my Dad deeply and miss him every day since his passing. He made me laugh. He brought a measure of happiness into my life. I know, now, how much he loved me. We were connected at a deep place inside of each of us...)
Without knowing it, FEAR had grown into a huge wave that washed over my whole life...
FEAR has been an overwhelming factor in my life that has held me back from engaging in life more fully. FEAR is debilitating! FEAR caused me to be an overprotective mother of our children. Because of my own fears and be overly worried that something bad might happen to them or someone else might hurt them, I tried to shelter and protect them from a world that I believed was a bad place filled with bad people I couldn't trust. It was, and often, still is. I would do everything I could to keep them safe... Not that this was a healthy or appropriate mindset. It's not! And, there have been events in our family that have caused great personal pain to me (and others), because of how I experienced life controlled by fear.
I was a sick child and spent alot of time at the doctor's office or at different clinics...seeking healing for this or that. I had pneumonia at 3 months of age. While some children are strong and resilient, I feared doctors, the more I had to see them ~ because to me, they never really made me better. And then, when you develop chronic illness and doctors begin to tell you: "You're depressed and just need to be on an anti-depressant," "It's all in your head," "I don't know what's wrong with you, but let's try this medicine," "I don't know what's wrong with you, it's all psychological - you need help - and I think it would be better for you to find a new doctor." There is likely some truth to all of this, but it never made me feel like I was a person of value or worth...and it just made things worse.
For me, FEAR grew. Always looking over my shoulder. Always wondering if I would ever get well again. Wondering if I would live long enough to see our children grow up. FEAR that I had ruined our children's lives, because they had to grow up with a Mom who was sick and couldn't get well and it caused our life to keep changing and made us different than other people. Deciding to give up this activity or that activity to deal with my broken body and FEAR increased. Worrying about getting sick or hurt in an accident, because my body wouldn't tolerate pharmaceutical medicine. Then what? And, as time went by, the world became more and more toxic to my body, and continued to weaken and break down... And, FEAR grew!
How can this all be happening, when I am a Christian and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior? Doesn't the Bible talk about FEAR? It does, but I could not overcome it. As some would say, "You don't have enough faith." And so, I continually questioned myself even though I knew these words:
'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
I didn't know how to embrace these words, the Truth of them, and to allow God to make it a reality in my own life. I felt like a failure. My husband and I have prayed for many years for healing in my body and for healing of a specific health issue that I battled again and again. Yes, healing would come in different ways, but what I needed seemed continually just out of reach. And, spiritual warfare has been an ongoing issue in my faith journey and I battled on, the best I could. Always trying to find a way to freedom...
In 2013, after walking away from our home we owned, the loss of our home (my safe place), our neighborhood and community overwhelmed me (and I still struggle). And then, my Dad's health declined and he passed away in October, 2015. Our dearest, sweet Coco dog followed in February, 2016, and my world just spun out-of-control. I couldn't get my feet back under me properly and my health struggled and I was truly fearful my health would just continually decline... Finally, in desperation, I sought out a new, specialty practice, naturopath to try and find healing for an ongoing health struggle (mid 2016). Originally diagnosed with the condition in 1993, I was told there was no "cure" - just a hope to reduce the symptoms (and not to eat fruits high in citric acid) - but this naturopath told me it is actually an autoimmune disease and not only was it making my body quite ill, but there is a path to healing... It was overwhelming and alot to wrap our heads around.
We began the Autoimmune Protocol elimination diet (way of eating, not a weight loss diet) on January 1, 2017. My body is weak, aching, and I am exhausted. January is never a good month for my body; living with chronic illness. A low point every year with not alot of sunshine and many damp, chilly days. BUT this year, Blaine and I have a new hope; a new path toward healing and we've fully embraced it. We decided I would remove everything from my calendar for this month to rest and adjust to the new diet. There is very specific food for us to eat and the menu is planned out for the first 4 weeks. We're following it exactly (except no onions or lemon/lemon juice for me - we're substituting organic cranberry juice with no sugar added). There is ALOT more cooking and food preparation involved, but Blaine is willing to take it on - plus working - and have me help, as I can. The one challenge ~ we live an hour away from the natural food store where we purchase our groceries. Okay - I've been doing the grocery shopping and I believed I could do it as my one activity per week. I would shop on Fridays, so we can batch cook on Saturdays for the next week. So, Friday arrived and Blaine determined that he would go with me for this shopping trip, but neither he or I were feeling too well. Although we didn't feel so great, we headed up to the city. I felt a bit on edge, but worked on remaining focused. And then, on Hwy 599, we were just behind a nasty accident that happened moments before... I'm shaken, but we continue on. A short distance up the road, Blaine comments on wondering where he put the cookbook and shopping list in the car. He can't find it. NO!!!!! It has to be here. Don't tell me it's not here. We've driven all this way. It has to be in the car. My stress level rises. By the time I can pull over for him to look throughout the car, my stress level has reached near panic stage. We are now 45 minutes from home, I don't have alot of energy, I'm stressed and...the cookbook is nowhere to be found (which isn't a huge deal), but he wanted the shopping list to be in the book and not in my purse where I normally keep it - which means it's at home and not with us. Stress overload for someone whose body is quite ill right now. And, we've learned anxiety and panic attacks are common when someone is experiencing an autoimmune flare, which I am right now. The reality: we have to return home. As we begin to head south, I am overwhelmed and go into a full panic. I can't do this! I don't have the strength for this! The car accident rattled me! Why is this happening? I feel like I can't trust you and I need to trust you. He feels horrible. He's trying to hold it together, because he knows I'm in a panic. I pull over, because I'm so stressed out. We had a certain time window to do the grocery shopping in order to return home for lunch (we can't eat out right now). There is no way for me to drive home and Blaine takes over driving home. My stress is now out-of-control and I'm sobbing. (This is illness and exhaustion crying out.) And, then, we almost get side swiped. More stress! Please God, help us! A little further down the road, we almost get side swiped on the freeway. I lose it. I really lose it! Completely freaking out, cries arise to the surface from deep, deep inside of me (which I've only experienced twice before ~ once when we thought we'd lost one of our children from our lives and after my Dad died. I later realizing this cry came from releasing the overwhelming emotion of embracing my diagnosis and the new life ahead of us). Still a long drive ahead of us and I'm completely panicked. Crying and sobbing. Blaine feeling helpless and knowing he has to focus on driving to get us home safely. Feeling my body get weaker and weaker.... I slump over. I can't do this anymore. I hate my life, I scream out! And, because we've experienced spiritual warfare before, I know part of this is the enemy of my soul trying to destroy me.... (and yet, I run the gamut of questions ~ I'm not important, so why are you bothering me? What is it about me that irritates you so much that you desire to destroy me?) I begin yelling Jesus' name. Please help me. And somewhere deep inside me, I hear "sing praise." And, I see a vision of Paul and Silas in their prison cell, singing praise to God and, again, I'm encouraged to sing praises to God. So weak I could barely hold up my head, I forced myself to softly begin singing. The more I sang, the stronger my voice got. I began to feel the darkness, the weakness and the pain in my body grow lighter and fade away. The feeling returns to my arms. By the time we arrived home, I felt back to normal again - although exhausted. Upon arriving, Blaine broke down and we felt God doing a new work in our life; setting us free from something that imprisoned us. Blaine tells me he's never heard my voice sound so beautiful in singing praise to God before. And for the first time, we are drawn closer together and a deeper love for each other grows, as does our love for our amazing Lord! We have experienced the power of God in our lives doing a great work overcoming my FEAR. His LOVE is victorious! In a very short span of time, I went from total darkness to experiencing freedom. He's available for you too.
And, after we ate lunch, we both had the strength to drive back up to Seattle to get our grocery shopping done (Thank You, Jesus!) and God sustained us throughout our time and back home again. The stress did take a toll on my body and my muscles and joints are extremely painful this weekend, and I know I need to keep my stress level down to enable my body to heal, BUT I/we experienced God's loving hand upon our lives, I know He is with me and that FEAR does not have the power to destroy me for Jesus has already been victorious and has truly set me free. Now, this doesn't mean I will never experience fear again, but I know I can run to Him who is able strengthen me in the midst of it and will protect me, for He has overcome it. This weekend, the words below have gained new meaning for me. As I learn to let go of FEAR and embrace Jesus, His peace will grow. Yes, troubles and trials will happen in this life, but in Jesus we have peace for He overcame this world. HOPE!!!
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation (trouble, trials), but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB
I share this story, not to freak anyone out, but it's a first step to free myself from my FEAR PRISON and to let others know that many people suffer behind closed doors or in ways that others cannot see their struggles or the battles they desperately try to overcome, but can't seem to. I share, because we've managed to keep this hidden even from our own children - though not to the benefit of our family, but for my own self-protection. I don't want our children to ever feel imprisoned, as I have nor as my husband has (and I am continually amazed he is still here and how unconditionally he loves me), but for us all to be free to embrace healing. Many people think I'm so positive and so strong - that I don't need others, because I have Jesus and my faith is everything. But, I'm just as weak as everyone else. I often believe I'm the weakest person in my life. Why would God want to use me for anything? He keeps reminding me that He loves me and He created me for a purpose in this life. My faith is my strength that sustains me. Jesus is my answer, even as I struggle humanly to overcome the battles in my life! His love never fails me.
I pray you, the reader, are FREE from FEAR. And, if you're not, that you're able to find hope in Jesus and a practitioner that can help you on your journey. I pray you find the courage and the strength to let others know you struggle with FEAR. I should have done so, very long ago...., but TODAY is a new day! I am thankful I have a Redeemer, who is able to heal and restore my life. And, the beginning of BRAVE!!!
Blessings for good health and healing to you!