Last week my son were faced with a situation at school that set off our adrenaline. There are a group of kids who threatened to “jump him,” at school. These kids ride his bus and frankly are not the type that I would doubt would carry this out. These are kids with major issues and I’ve known about them long before this reached a head. They’d broken some rules and gotten caught earlier in the year and pegged my kiddo and several others as to why their own bad decisions had caught up to them. Presently they are still breaking the same rules they were back then. Alex told me that one of the ring leaders had gotten on the bus asking where and which one Alex was on both Monday and Tuesday the same week. Thankfully no one would point him out both times. Now a day later, my poor kiddo was frantically trying to message me through Instagram during school to tell me he had heard there was a real plan for this group to beat him up. Social media can be a really good thing. I messaged him back more details and then I called the vice principal to relay my concern. This was an exercise in patience that I didn’t have. I find that 9/10 times I have to deal with the front office staff, I’m met with this…
They must hate their jobs. Anyway, I was transferred twice to reach a voicemail, and I had to call back twice before I got through to the receptionist again. I said, “Can you please find out if he is in the office before you automatically transfer me?” I could tell by her long drawn out monotone voice, she sounded annoyed. “Well Maam.. there is not really a way for me to do that?” I know this office, and it’s not far from the front desk. I was thinking, Can you like crane your neck a little or you know…use your amazing legs to go take a peek? Suffice it to say I concluded on my own that she must have been in a full body cast. I then told her, “Look, this is kind of an urgent matter and I need to contact the vice principal immediately. ” This time she asked me to wait on hold for several minutes until the vice principal appeared on the phone. Guys… My hands were shaking and I wanted this under control before something happened. I talked really quick telling him my concerns and also relaying to him what’d happened earlier in the week. To my great relief he was aware and working on the situation already. He said a couple students and one along with a grandparent, had come already that morning to voice this concern. The concern was valid and there was in fact some plan by this group to carry this out on Alex and it sounds like another kid. He said he would call Alex down to his office to talk to him and he was also currently calling the parents of these involved kids. He said some of them couldn’t be talked to because they were already suspended for other reasons, but that he was getting a hold of the parents of those kids too. Long story short, they put Alex on a safety plan with supervision going to and from class, the resource police officer is informed of the situation and on standby, and the bus driver has been notified that only the regular kids are allowed on and off at Alex’s bus stop. Theses students and their parents have been seriously warned that if anything were to happen, these kids will be expelled. It’s the best it can be for now.
This situation got me thinking about fear. My greatest enemy is “what -if?” What- if has kept me from doing lots of things in my life. In some cases it may have been a good thing and saved my life, and in others, it’s left me hiding in a bathroom stall trying to hide my internal freak out. My struggle has always been trying to decipher when, “what-if” needs to be heavily considered and when they need to be ignored and overcome. In this particular situation above, it’s dawned on me that I have to try to help my son through the “what-if’s” going through his mind. It’s highlighted an area of my own personal weakness within me that I’d rather ignore. My what if’s aren’t a group beating me up, they are the, “what if the hammer is just about to drop on my body and I’m going to go through terrible pain and a fight for recovery again?” The last 9 years has been a dance of me wanting to accomplish something, being injured, and then having to cancel or reschedule. It’s left me feeling afraid to commit to some future endeavors. I despise letting people down and feeling like a flake. I’ve been presented with opportunities that have terrified me and also thrilled me. If the “what-if’s,” had won over in those situations, I would have missed out on some incredible experiences to share my testimony in large groups, a book club, radio interviews or writing for a magazine. These have been wonderful opportunities that beforehand left me in cold sweats and heart palpitations, but afterwards thankful and exhilarated. I’ve been reflecting back on these things and differentiating between what-if’s that stem from my fear of uncertainty or the what-if’s that are a God given protection. There are both beneficial and paralyzing what-if’s and sometimes they are hard to tell apart.
God -given fear, stems from a very real threat to our physical or psychological safety. It’s realizing something could really potentially injure us. Alex’s situation resulted in God-given fear. You should be afraid when a gang of middle school thuglets, decide and plan to unleash their internal misery on you. Wisdom say’s we should feel some serious caution and find safety. God-given fear also occurs when we realize there are consequences for our actions, whether they be on earth or in the next life. We should be afraid that committing a crime will result in jail time, and we should be afraid that committing spiritual crimes, will result in a fiery torment in the next life. We should also fear God.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
The fear that really annoys me and seems to be my personal nemesis, is anxiety. It’s fear that has limited usefulness. It may make me work faster or feel pressure, but it rarely helps me feel reasonable and it almost never results in peace. It’s the fear that exists despite logic and reason and lives in the dark haunted recesses of all of my worst fears. These anxieties revolve around things I can’t change, have no control over, people I can’t help, or things that haven’t even happened yet. I think of them as the 3am fears. The things that crawl into your brain unwelcome when you can’t sleep. These are the fears I am trying to wield off with a sword of truth. I am fighting them while chanting things like, “I will not live in fear. I will trust God. I will make plans anyway. I will step out in courage.”
A very close person to me, posted this on Facebook the other day.
I sat staring at that for a bit. It’s probably no coinkydink that it’s said 365 times. In the last several days when these anxieties have arisen, I’ve been asking myself several questions. Can I do something constructive with this fear? Is it serving a purpose other than just paralyzing me? Is what I’m fearing within my control? If I overcome this fear with courage, what is the worst that could happen? Is having this fear protecting me? Will I regret it if I don’t overcome this fear? These answers vary of course, but it’s forcing me to sit down and have a conversation with this anxiety and differentiate it from God-given fear.
What if Jesus thought the way I think at 3am? What if the Pharisees hate me? What if there is a bad storm on the sea of Galilee? What if there isn’t enough fish and loaves to feed everyone? Maybe we should just cancel the sermon on the mount. Somehow this is putting my thought process in a clearer light. So what do the scriptures tell me about anxiety? What should my thought process be when doubt and anxiety begin bullying my thought process?
2nd Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Oof…so God is not causing this kind of caution. Doubt is. Doubt also seems to be a favorite tool of the devil. I should never doubt God’s goodness. He does have a plan for good for us.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
God wants to fill my mind with joy and peace, because He has a plan for me and you that results in a good outcome and He is trustworthy. I want this peace, and sometimes it is a fight to get it. So many awful things have happened to my body that I fear more pain. This is a daily fight for me. I’ve sneezed a few times lately and it’s shot terrible pain like lightening through my upper back. We know I compressed my vertebra sneezing a couple months ago, and now I have weird pain in another area. I have a tailspin of thoughts that strike when new pain appears. Oh no! What’s this? Is my disc going to go on me? Do I have another weak area of bone? What if it happens when I’m on a trip? How do I keep it from happening? What if, what if, what if ??? You see where I’m going with this. I can’t keep any new things from happening. I don’t know when or if it will and unfortunately because of my track record probability feels like it’s not in my favor. I don’t think I can stop fearing pain and maybe it would be bad if I did and I’d ignore my body till my legs fell off and my eyeballs fell out. I rarely stop before overdoing it anyway. Nonetheless I have to figure out how to keep facing each day not paralyzed at the “what-if?” If I’m not dead yet, the mission here is not complete. In looking for scriptures about anxiety, I can find a lot talking about not feeling fear or being anxious about various things, but I am having a hard time finding any that talk about getting rid of anxiety that is provoked by the fear of physical pain and agony. I don’t know if I can rid myself of that fear. I am pretty sure part of Jesus’s anxiety in the garden of Gethsemane, was a very real response to the fear of what misery lie ahead. Not only would he endure emotional and spiritual agony, but he endured immense physical torment. If Jesus couldn’t even shake that concern, I sure won’t. It’s probably a human preservation to avoid it. The best I can sum up, is that I’m going to have to talk to God more about the anxiety when I’m feeling it. I pray a lot to avoid further physical problems, but I don’t really pray a lot about the mental and emotional stress that I feel about the possibility of it. I think that is something that Jesus is showing me about this trial. There are still holes in my life and heart that I need to fill with Him. He himself went to His Father to pour out in prayer and He trusted Him to provide the strength.
Phillipians 4:6&7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
God’s peace that passes understanding, can keep your mind and heart stable. Keep your eyes on Him.
This next scripture has resurfaced in a million incredible, uncoincidental, astounding, miraculous and sometimes even comical ways in my life. This scripture surfaces when I need it the most. It’s my scripture. If I ever get a tattoo, it would be this scripture written in reverse on my forehead, so that every time I look in the mirror it reminds me. Everybody take a deep breath…I’m not getting a tattoo on my forehead.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
It’s not God’s faithfulness that has ever been reason to have anxiety; only my fear of sufferring has ever made me arrive there. I really am working on it. I so understand the moment when a father, having desperation for Jesus to help him and his son; cried out in Mark 9:24
- “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
I want Jesus to help and I believe he can and will…but yet; Jesus, please help my unbelief. Obviously something still resides within me that makes perfect peace seem very hard to attain. Somewhere between this fear and trust is courage. Courage makes us willing to fight Goliath, keeps us faithful in a lion’s den, steadfast in a furnace, and unmoved while building an ark. That is the kind of trust in God that I want to foster. Courage to face each day and believe that God will give me the strength. Faith that knows my prayers are being heard even if I don’t recognize or see the answers. Faith that God keeps His promises. I have to do it over and over, but I’m going to keep laying my burdens, anxieties, and doubts, at the feet of God. He is the only one who truly knows the future and can guide me through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, in what decisions I should make and which direction I should go. He knows I can’t possibly predict what lies ahead, and He doesn’t want me to run faster than I have strength either. One day at a time, one hurdle at a time. Maybe these anxieties are to remind me daily, that I have to look up to the wisdom of my Father, and hold tight to His hand. For as long as I grip His hand, He won’t let me fall.
1st Peter 5:7
7. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
I love you each. Huge hugs my friends!