“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” |Isaiah 41:10|
I am logical. I am practical. Things come my way, and it may sting or bruise, but stings stop hurting and bruises go away, so I live knowing that they will go away.
In a more concrete sense, I also always take way too long after a trip to unpack. My suitcase sits on my floor and clothing slowly finds its way over the sides and onto my floor. And I find myself living out of a suitcase in the midst of home.
I am late to unpack my thoughts as well. The quiet moments, seemingly too rare to be found, are when I finally allow myself to feel the sting. And before that I truly was okay with the sting because as I said before, it happens and it goes away. For me, stopping and speaking truths and facts into experiences shows me things that I’ve chosen to leave packed in the suitcase. It shows me that it’s time to take them out.
The first semester that I spent at Wheaton truly was so much better than anything I had expected. Experiences, friendships, and the warmth of the community gave me a new home that I now miss dearly. But sometime in there, a sneaky process was working in me. The sneaky thing inside of me was fear.
You see, introductions have never been my thing, but I’ve lived in the same city and gone to the same church and school for my entire. Introductions happened, but they were never central to my experiences. I had a spot, an identity, and it was comfortable.
At school, introductions were everything for a long time, and so were first impressions. Eventually, I found a place with people where I felt at home. In these places where I knew I was accepted, I questioned my welcome on off weeks where school work piled thickly and everyone’s stress was high. Why? Because of fear. In classes where my bold peers shared their thoughts, I became comfortable as a listener and shared my opinions later in smaller contained settings. Why? Because of fear.
Fear of identity. Fear of losing acceptance. Fear of failure.
Now it’s 2014, a fresh new year, and I have been challenged by the idea of choosing one word to focus on for the year.
But this year for me, it’s two words.
On the very day when I had finally shared with close friends about how I lost some of my courage this semester, the theme to not fear kept appearing – among my search for a new study, in a random blog post I clicked on, in a picture a favorite artist of mine posted.
I got it, Lord, thank You for being obvious that night for my wandering heart.
The courage that sometimes seems hard to find or the worries that creep into joyful moments that seem too good to be true are overturned by the words fear not. I find them so perfect because it doesn’t require increasing performance from us. The idea behind not being fearful isn’t to push through by our own strength and rely on some new boost of self confidence.
Rather, God’s command is to stop fearing and start trusting. He has written a narrative of faithfulness for us to see. He invites us to fear not for He is the one to be trusted who binds broken things together and brings life to places that have been starved of fresh water.
These words aren’t a commitment to pull myself up by my bootstraps, but rather to yoke myself with the one equipped to carry burdens and make them light.
Fear not for I am with you. It seems so simple, but it’s a commandment for trust and it changes everything.