When I went to Celebrate Recovery Summit in 2007 I discovered that everything at Saddleback seemed to have acronyms. That included fear. According to them fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. That really hit me hard, but I had sort of forgotten about that until today when I was reflecting back about that mountain top experience at Summit after seeing all of the pictures and posts from the team there now.
I also recall nailing many of my fears to the cross. But one thing I didn't nail to the cross was fear itself. And looking back over the last couple of years I'm seeing that fear still has a stronghold in my life.
Joy was not a part of my life in 2007. Everything was so complicated, depressing, stressful. I kept waiting for joy, but it never seemed to come my way. And yet somewhere between 2008 and 2010 joy found me.
Guess what I learned today? There is only one way to destroy fear, to chase it away like a dog with it's tail between it's legs. That one thing is joy. I also learned that joy is a choice. And when we choose joy, which looks different in different situation, we are chosing to live a life of abundance in God.
Because joy, unlike happiness which comes and goes according to circumstances, is a fruit that you start to bear as you grow stronger in Christ. And it sort of just popped out of one of my branches today. Maybe because today I'm really resting in Him. I'm chosing not to panic (unlike yesterday) or assume or dread, but just to be a branch and sway in the wind. Okay, so maybe a bird will poop on me or I might go through some dry times or maybe some weed will try to choke me out and that might not be comfortable, but it's part of being a branch. Sometimes stuff just happens because that is where you are planted.
Abundance focuses on holding on to the vine, because if I do allow myself to break I will dry up and shrivel to nothingness. I am nothing without God.
I feel so weak at times, but I look back at all I've faced over the last couple of years and know that I don't have to worry about my strength because God is strong enough to carry me through it all. I can lose financial security, a car, a house, a loved one or even lose my sanity, but I can't lose God,and His grace, love and mercy.
The problem with fear is it robs your focus, and that in turn can drain your joy and weaken your spirit. And it's all a lie. God hasn't forsaken you. It isn't the end of the world. It's not the worst thing that can happen.
Let's take last summer. I feared quitting my job and still being able to pay bills. I feared losing my dog, Sparky, to cancer. I feared losing the spec house we had worked so hard for. I feared losing my sanity. I feared losing my marriage.
I did quit my job and there were times we couldn't pay the bills, but there were other times we ended up with enough to cover what we were behind on. Sparky lost a leg, not her life, in fact she is more lively now than before she lost her leg--and funny thing is that dog doesn't miss it one bit. We did lose the spec house, but God has blessed us with a home of our own at a price we can almost afford, and even though we've been late a couple of times on payments, He has always provided for it. I did let my sanity slip a bit more than I'd like to admit, but I never lost it. God kept me moving forward in my healing, and even felt I was strong enough to give me tests that I may have scraped by with a C-, but I did pass (which means I probably should study a bit more!). Finally, I can honestly say my marriage is stronger than it has been in years. The thing that almost destroyed it was the secret that had to come out and be faced so we could work through it together, and we have and are beyond it now.
When you really look at it that way it seems sort of silling wasting so much time on it.
"Taking this sinful world as it is, not as we would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will. So that I can be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy in the next. Amen" This is the part of the Serenity Prayer I really have to hold on to in hard times. Life is messy and usually won't work out the way I wanted it. But what do I think my life would my life look like now if I'd had it my way.
I would have kept my job and my son probably still wouldn't be able to read (I had to work with him a lot this last year to get him caught up--I was so busy working I had no idea he couldn't read). My dog would have been put to sleep. We would have bought the spec house and then lost it because even with both Phil and I working two full time jobs we wouldn't be able to make the payments. I would have left my husband when things got rough because the only thing that kept me from leaving was God telling me to trust Him and more than likely I would have lost my family and my sanity.
I may not have understood last year what was going on, just like I'm not understanding right now what is going on, but I have to remind myself that it's not about me at all. It's about God, and bringing Him glory. God has pointed out some things I need to work on and is growing me more, forcing me to trust in Him instead of what I see. Instead of griping and complaining and fearing why shouldn't I choose to rejoice and trust? Which really makes more sense???
And now that my focus has been taken away from fear and frustration what I see is all the good that is coming out of this. I have an amazing husband, content kids and a three-legged dog, not to mention the rest of our little zoo, who all love me, but not as much as my Heavenly Father loves me.
Psalm 71:19-21 blows me away today, because it is like David read my mind.
"Your righteousness reaches to the skies, Oh, God, You who have done GREAT things. Who, oh God, is like You? Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, YOU WILL restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will AGAIN bring me up. You WILL increase my honor and comfort me once again." Because you are the perfect Father and I love you so very much.
Follower of Christ
For more information about CR call Rodney at 479-659-3679 or firstname.lastname@example.org