Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Without Fear

Since getting engaged a little over two weeks ago, I've experienced a little fear... well, actually quite a bit of fear. I am fearful of being unprepared for marriage, fearful of failing at a second marriage, fearful of not being the kind of wife my new husband will need, fearful of not being able to handle various aspects of blended family life, fearful of moving to a new town, fearful of changing jobs, fearful of being abandoned by a man I love yet again ... basically, I am fearful of the unknown. Additionally, I have been trying to prepare for my first ever speaking engagement for God, and finding that I am fearful in this as well ... fearful of failing God

As I have thought about and processed through these fears, God graciously brought to my remembrance this essay that I wrote nearly 2 years ago. He reminded me that a life that is lived in fear is not really a life that is lived well. I want to live my life well and bring much glory to God ... so let me not linger and dwell on my fears. Rather, let me live my life in such a way that I am bold and courageous, stepping out in faith, trusting that God holds me in the palm of His mighty hand and that He will be ever faithful to give me everything I need to live my life without fear.


Without Fear

November 18, 2008

I have this homeschooling friend who recently became a single mother. She wrote about how she was looking for ways to bring in extra money so that she could continue to stay home full time rather than put her children into school and return to work. I read those words and paused for a second, wondering if I had not tried hard enough to figure out a way to continue to be home with my own kids. After all, putting the children into school wasn't part of my dream for this life. I wanted to admire my friend for her strong desire to continue to live out her life's dream. But as I reread the words, I noticed something else there ... FEAR. I realized that she seemed to be fearful. Maybe she was fearful of all the changes in her life now, or perhaps she was simply fearful of the public school system. I can't say exactly what her fears might have been, but I recognized her fearful state of mind.

I know all about fear. I have done many things in my life based on fear, including choosing my college degree. I knew what a teacher did and it was comfortable to imagine myself doing the same sort of work. I was fearful of choosing a different career ... what if I failed at that job, or didn't like it after I already earned the degree. And so, I chose the safe route. I became a teacher. Oddly enough, once I was in the classroom, I didn't really enjoy the work. I adore children, and I love learning. I do not, however, like attempting to teach a classroom of 25 pupils. And yet, for so long, I was fearful of doing anything else because of the unknown aspect.

I had so many fears.

I was fearful of moving away from my hometown. What if no one else liked me? What if all these people from my small little community like me because of who my family happens to be or because we go to church together?

I was fearful of putting my kids into public school for a myriad of reasons. What if my kids were teased or bullied? What if they had a bad teacher? What if they didn't get the best education? What if we lived in a school district that wasn't great?

I lived my life in fear. It wasn't a debilitating fear. I functioned fairly normally on a daily basis. But my deep-seated fears drove all of my decisions.

For my entire married life, I was extremely fearful of Matt leaving me. During that awful summer and fall when my marriage was ripping apart at the seams, I tried as hard as I could to keep him from leaving, to convince him to stay with me and the kids. Looking back, I can see that it was fear that drove how I responded to him. Nothing I did worked, and as it turned out, that great fear of mine came to pass. But ... and bear with me on this because it is hard to explain ... when he uttered those words, "I want a divorce. I want out of this marriage." there was this click in my heart. At that very moment, the biggest part of the fear was gone. The fear didn't totally go away at that moment and there were some times in the months ahead when I was extremely fearful. Yet, at that moment, it was as if deep down in my heart I knew I would survive this. This thing I had been fearing had actually happened and I hadn't fallen over dead.

I also knew that I was going to have swim or I would sink ... so right then and there, in that remote cabin in North Carolina, I made the decision to swim for Paige rather than to sink for Matt.

Let me make one thing clear ... I would have sunk WITH Matt. I would have fought for our marriage forever, with him fighting right next to me. But when he wanted out, when he refused to give me any hope of reconciliation, when he gave up the fight for us, then I began to refuse to sink for him. (I hope that makes sense. It's not a decision that I ever thought I'd have to make. However, we all know that a marriage is made up of two people ... and sadly when one person bails out of the marriage, the other will not be able to keep the marriage floating by themselves.)

Since that time, I've had to make a lot of decisions. I decided to return to work. Six weeks later, I decided to change careers. There have been other decisions, but these were the first big two. Making these and other big decisions has done several important things for me:

I've gained confidence in God and in His guidance offered to me. As my trust in Him has increased, my fear has decreased. I don't live in unhealthy fear anymore.

Those decisions were incredibly tough to make, but in the long run each one has helped me to move on in my life, process the grief and begin to refocus on my blessings. Learning to trust the Lord to help me make wise and good decisions has helped me to overcome the fear and to empower myself through Him.

I read an interesting quote tonight: We must give up the life we dreamed of in order to have the life that is before us.

No ... this isn't at all the life I dreamed of or planned for myself and my kids. I have lost a lot of my personal dreams ... dreams that I held dear to my heart. I no longer homeschool. I probably won't have the opportunity to live in a wide variety of places or travel the nation/world with as much ease as I did as a military spouse. I'm no longer a wife, serving my family. I am a single mom, and it is an incredibly tough job.

And yet, I can't sit around moaning about my life now. If I did that, I would not only have lost what I had then, I would be losing what I have now as well.

I know that the Lord does not intend for us to divorce our spouses. I would never ever recommend it to anyone. But it happened and with it my life changed. I could continue to sit in one spot, clinging to the little things of the past I could continue to grasp. Or I could step out in faith toward God and give myself fully to Him, even though I knew it would mean some dramatic changes. I'm glad I chose the latter, for even though life today certainly isn't a bed of roses, there is far too much right in my life for me not to embrace it with a heart of thanksgiving.

The thing about life is that it goes on every day. Good days, bad days, dark days, happy days ... life goes on. Joyous seasons, sad seasons, seasons of confusion ... life goes on. And really, when it boils down to the nitty-gritty day in and day out life, I'm incredibly blessed.

Every day I wake up to 3 beautiful children, who cause me to laugh and smile and occasionally pull my hair out. I have a cozy house with a beautiful view, a good job that pays me enough money to cover the bills without having to stress too much. My minivan is able to get me to work and home again every evening. The dog loves me and hates the cat, and the cat loves me and hates the dog ... that in itself reminds me that life is pretty much as it should be.

Day in and day out , life goes on. And, until the day I die, my life will go on. I can't choose much of what will happen to me while I'm living. But I can choose to live this life with a smile and a determination to love those around me. I can choose to enjoy every day. I can choose to be thankful for the blessings (both big and small) that touch my life. I can choose to wake up every morning and embrace life that day ... even if it is different from all the days before it. And, through Christ, I can live my life without fear.

Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. (Isaiah 41:8)

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