Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fear Can't Control

I used to always say that I never really struggled with fear until I became a mom.  It is a never-ending process of learning to completely place your children in God's hands and trust that He will care for them... because you can't do it all.

I remember the night that we brought Sean (my oldest) home from the hospital, I did not want to go to sleep because I was afraid he would die of SIDS.  If everyone slept, who would watch him and make sure he was still breathing?  Very quickly God showed me that it was necessary to learn to let go of control and place my hope in Him.

As the years have gone by, and more children have joined our family, the mom fears have changed.  Just when you get control of one, the kids grow up and start a new phase and you have to do it all again.  If you aren't careful, you can be in a perpetual state of worry.

Then lets throw in social media.  It's a wonderful tool for connecting with family and friends, to promote businesses, to stay up to date on the news, and to educate yourself.  It can also dig you into a very deep worry pit.  

Friend A posts a link to a blog about the dangers in vaccinating your children.  Oh my word!  You think.  I really need to read up on this more!  I am such a terrible mother because I have already vaccinated all my kids!  Did I do the right thing?

Friend B shares photos of her son's 6th birthday party.  There's a table with the most adorable themed food, all perfectly labeled with themed fonts & paper.  There's the cake that looks like it came off the cover of a food magazine.  The decorations will put Martha Stewart to shame.  The games and activities planned were just as fun as an amusement park visit.  Seriously?  You think.  I stacked up donuts and stuck candles in them for my kid's birthday... at the pizza place... where they played ski-ball and ate junk food & I didn't have to do a thing. (no really, I've done that on more than one occasion).  Maybe I'm not investing in the memories and celebration of my children's lives enough.  Are they wishing I do more?

Friend C can't stop sharing links about ISIS and North Korea and EBOLA and... well... anything else terrifying going on in the world.  Where is this world headed?  You think.  Is there going to be another terrorist attack on American soil?  Will Christians undergo persecution?  Did that person who just coughed sitting next to me at the dentist travel to West Africa in the last 21 days?

Friend D knows everything there is to know about health food and nutrition, because they have watched every documentary that Netflix has to offer about it.  They make sure to let you know that your store bought food & water will kill you.  Don't eat sugar.  Don't eat meat.  Don't eat gluten.  Don't eat carbs.  Don't eat anything that isn't organic free range nitrate free and grown in your own backyard.  What the heck am I doing to my family?  You worry.  I try to feed them as healthy as I can, with the budget that I have, but maybe that's not enough.  Maybe I am slowly making all of us sick.  

Do you see where I'm heading here?  We are constantly filling our heads with fear justifications.  And there are plenty of them.  We don't have to look far, and we don't have to try hard.  It doesn't take long before fear begins to control you.  I'm not talking about the being afraid to leave your house kind of fear.  I'm talking about subtle fears that can turn into major life choices.  Like, for example, the only reason you send your kids to private school is because they will lose their salvation in public school hanging out with all the heathens.  That's a fear choice.  Or maybe you won't let your children go to McDonald's with their friends because if they eat 4 chicken nuggets from there they will get cancer and die.  That's a fear choice.  Throwing the most extravagant birthday party for your kid because you feel like you will be a bad mom & others will judge you if you don't.  That's a fear choice. 

Don't get me wrong, private school and not eating fast food and amazing birthday parties are not bad things.  At all.  We are all responsible to raise our children in the best way we know how to, with the convictions that the Lord gives to each of us, which is all different.  But I am talking about the heart behind the choices.  Why are you making the choices you make?  Is it because you researched, thought it through, prayed about it, and have peace?  Or is it because of fear?

To continue on in my journey of doing brave things, I am constantly doing a self-check in the decisions that I make.  If I am making that decision out of fear or worry, then I will either make myself do the opposite, or spend some more time in prayer about it.  

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control."  2 Tim 1:7

Fear is not of God, so if we are making decisions out of fear then we are not making them with God.  Instead of fear He gives us power, love, and self-control (some versions say "a sound mind").  Those are what we should be using to make decisions.  Ultimately... peace.  We need to let peace guide our hearts, minds, and choices.  

"I am leaving you with a gift -- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27

"If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace."  Romans 8:6      

So that is what I'm doing.  I'm choosing to not let fear control my choices, even in the "little" things.  I'm choosing to take off worry and put on peace.  I'm choosing to walk in confidence knowing that there is nothing to fear (even when, ultimately, there are many things to fear).  Will you join me?

"Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Philippians 4:7 (The Message)

*Side note: I feel like I need to add that in talking about fear, this is different then the anxiety I wrote about in my last blog.  The anxiety in that post was caused by a physical imbalance, the worry/fears talked about in this post are caused by human nature.  

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