Irrational fears suck. Last night as I was tucking in my middle two, one whispered to me, “How do I stop being afraid?” I knew what he was talking about right away. His friend, bless that little 3rd grader’s dear heart, told my boys that ghosts come out at 3:00 am. Have I mentioned bless that child? And by that I mean, doggone that kid. So now my boys have an irrational fear of sleeping downstairs in their very safe and cozy bedroom because they think ghosts are going to come out and get them in their sleep. Irrational, yes, but to my two 9 year olds, this is very real because they don’t know how to combat it. All they know is they are scared and they want it to go away.
I give them words of Jesus’ powerful protection, but that irrational fear seems so much more real to them than saying a prayer. Fear feels more real than Jesus. That seems like a very sinful sentence to put out in black and white. I want to give my boys faith. Tangible faith in a faithful Savior. Because I also understand fear over faith.
My life used to run on irrational fears – eat this, eat at a certain time, exercise more, exercise again, you don’t measure up, nobody likes you, you aren’t worth it, try harder, don’t try at all, she’s skinnier than you, she’s faster than you, she’s more disciplined than you, you’re gaining weight, you’re losing weight, this is the way it will always be. My ED locked me in a world of lies in order to keep me frozen in a constant state of fear. It is a horrible feeling, living in fear, so I think I may understand a bit how my boys feel about the 3 am ghosts. That kind of fear feels like sinking in quick sand on a deserted island, watching your body inch farther and farther into a bottomless pit with no hope of rescue. Irrational fear.
My faith became tangible to me the night I gave all those irrational fears to God. I prayed and God answered. In a very real way. I knew he was there. I felt his presence. I felt his arms around my sinking body, pulling me out of the hopeless quick sand. That is true relief – rescue when rescue seems impossible. I understood tangible faith because I felt tangible love. Fears dissipated in the reality of God’s almighty hands.
I needed to trust him. I needed to believe he was capable. I needed to stop fighting him. I needed to let go of my fears. I needed to understand logically that faith is a choice, not an emotion. God gave me tangible faith. Faith so real that I understood I would not fail because God does not fail. In that reality joy lives.
I felt that irrational fear one morning last week again. I can’t even really explain it, but standing in my bathroom staring at my face in the mirror, I felt irrational fear grip my heart and squeeze. I felt like ED was telling me he had me again. I was terrified. Terrified. It lasted only a moment, but in that moment I knew without doubt that I did not want to go back there ever again. I did not, would not, go back to ED. I did not want to go back to living a life run by fear.
My first thought was that I needed to to hear God speak his power into my heart. Tangible faith in action. I read Bible passages that I had written down on notecards. Every single verse spoke to me of God’s power, his victory over darkness, his knowledge of me, his love for me, his faithfulness and compassion, his perfect control over whatever happens in my life. Every verse brought my heart farther from that irrational fear and back into God’s sovereign grace. Fear cannot exist where God’s truth stands. I don’t know what brought on that fear of ED that morning, but I’m guessing it has everything to do with me losing focus on the face of Christ.
Whatever your irrational fear – money will run out, my spouse doesn’t love me, I’m a horrible mother, I’m worthless at my job, the cancer will win, I can’t provide for my family, what if – whatever your irrational fear, let it go. Say it out loud, release your fists, see God taking it away. Scream, cry, beg, breath. Release it. And God will take it from you. Tangible faith isn’t just a phrase I made up. It’s a part of my past, and of my present. All I have to do is think of the night God came, and I know that tangible faith trumps irrational fear every time. Because experience is the best teacher and God hasn’t let me sink in the quick sand yet. I’m still standing, fighting, and thriving. He will never let me go when my trust remains fully in him. My tangible faith tells me so.
Breath and release.