Learning to Fight Fear by Trusting in God
I think I’ve always been a fearful person. I worry a lot about death or losing someone I love, or tragedy or sickness striking me or a loved one. Once I got married that fear heightened and now that I have a baby its even worse. Its also gotten worse with the increase of natural disasters and, well, crazy people. Its been hard to figure out how to combat that fear with faith and trust in God.
Last week I got to witness something amazing. My sister got to marry the man of her dreams. Everything was perfect. The night was perfect, the weather was perfect, she looked ah-mazing! Everything ran smoothly and I’m so grateful I got to be there and enjoy it.
I was a little nervous about the logistics of traveling alone to Las Vegas, well not alone but with Layla at 12 months, and being away from Mark for a week. I’d be with family but staying in a hotel. I had worried about it a lot but found ways I thought would make things better, like deciding which flight to take. I considered a red eye, a non stop, a one stop lay over. I waited so long to actually by my ticket because I wasn’t sure which flight would be the “best” for Layla. I wanted to prepare as much as I could so that everything went smoothly. On the Sunday before I was scheduled to leave I was sitting in church and realized in this particular area of my life I hadn’t considered just relaxing and trusting God would make it go smoothly. That day, I decided to just surrender the whole trip to him. I’m so glad God helped me see that I wasn’t allowing him in. I prayed about it a lot and felt really free but the next morning things went to another level after finding out about the shooting.
I was scheduled to leave for Las Vegas on Wednesday morning. On Monday morning my friend texted me “so are you or your sister like freaking out about Las Vegas?” and that is when I found out about the shooting that happened the night before. As you can imagine, I had all of these thoughts running through my head. What is my sister going to do, does she know, should I tell her? Am I crazy for taking my 1 year old daughter to this place where over 50 people died from a mass shooting? What is my sister going to think if I don’t? I can’t not go, it’s my sisters wedding. My daughter’s safety comes first not what others think. So I went back and forth feeling scared and then feeling guilty for not wanting to go and then reasoning with myself for why I should go and then why I shouldn’t go and back and forth.
Don’t Give in to Fear
I asked my friend who texted me what she would do. She has a son a few months younger than Layla. She said she’d have to pray a lot but she would go. She reminded me that I would regret it if I gave into fear. She was right. I knew that I had to go. I started thinking about how safe it would be after something terrible like that happens. I knew there would be so much extra security measures right after and that it is unlikely that if anyone else wanted to do something similar that it would happen in the same place back to back. Everyone that I talked to reminded me of these things but I still knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to feel secure because of that. You can’t put your security in this world. I had to trust in going because I trusted in God. I knew that He would be the only solid thing I could count on and not go back and forth with my emotions like I did from the very beginning.
The trouble was, though, that I have always had a hard time trusting God to protect me. I have always had a fear of tragedy striking. I feel like God’s idea of “safe” is heaven and my problems here or fears here are too small for him to worry about and that it doesn’t matter what happens here on earth as long as I get to heaven. Sort of like the idea that you would shove someone out of the street with oncoming traffic and not worry about the scrapes and bruises of their fall as long as they don’t get hit by the cars. That may sound silly and I’m sure I’ve had that all wrong but that’s been in my head and what I’ve been wrestling with for years.
I didn’t know how I was going to all of the sudden gain this conviction that I could feel safe in this terrible, terrible fallen world because of God’s protection over me. All I knew to do was pray. So that is what I did. I prayed with faith, until I felt secure. I knew satan was totally in my head because a few hours after I felt secure, I’d feel insecure again. So I just prayed some more. I just did it over and over again.
Be Reassured by His Blessings
I knew God heard me so I went with confidence and God encouraged me along the way. Other things that I felt nervous about (before I heard about the shooting) were working out wonderfully. I got through the airport just fine. People helped me with my luggage (blessing) because they saw I had a baby strapped to me. I quickly got through security (blessing) and to my gate and bumped into a new mom friend I recently met at an indoor play place. She was on the same flight (blessing). What??! She helped watch my carry on while I changed Layla. She held her when I needed to use the restroom. She was so sweet and helpful and all of those logistical things I was nervous about worked out. (Blessing, blessing, blessing!) I ended up having an empty seat next to me. (blessing!) and a nurse in the third seat. (Blessing) She loved Layla and Layla loved her. The nurse helped me so much as well. Everything was a smooth as it could be, Layla didn’t cry once (blessing). I knew God was with me on my trip and things just sort of worked out like that the whole time. I was nervous about how Layla (and I) would sleep being in a hotel room and having my dad and step mom in the same room. She did great and she learned to sleep without nursing!!!! (HUGE victory btw!! normally when she is next to me she wants to nurse all night long) I can’t even count how many blessing God gave me.
It’s Okay to Be a Work in Progress
There were definitely still times where I was tempted to turn to fear though. Especially when we were in large crowded areas. One time we were standing under a zipline and didn’t realize it and one of the people zipping passed us screamed as she flew by and my heart just sunk, I really thought it was a shooting. I quickly realized it was a zipliner and we weren’t in any danger. (people shouldn’t scream like that)
Pray and God will guide
While I was putting Layla down for a nap one of the first days there, I came across a Facebook post about the shooting and it referred to Psalm 23. I read the psalm over and over that week. Remember when I said I didn’t know how I was going to all of the sudden gain a conviction on something I’d been wrestling with for years. Well I guess I never really prayed for God’s help and now that I did, this is where he guided me. (read the full passage here I will be highlighting the verses that stood out to me)
As a sheep finds comfort in his Shepard and doesn’t need to worry himself with anything. I don’t need anyone else to look after me and I don’t even need to look after myself.
I mentioned before I’ve always felt that tragedy and death could strike at anytime so I guess this fallen earth is the dark valley. I was comforted that God acknowledges that we live in this dark place. He knows its scary and validates that, but we don’t have to fear danger because He is with us.
This is probably my favorite part. I have walked around for years believing that tragedy and death are lurking around the corner. In this crazy sinful world we sense darkness looming in the air. That is a lie. It is goodness and faithful love that are after me. They pursue me. I don’t know if that sinks in for you like it has for me but when I meditate on this if fills my heart with so much joy, love, confidence and PEACE. I have nothing to be afraid of as God’s daughter. The only thing pursuing me is goodness and love.
Do you struggle with fear like me? What do you do? Do you have any go to scriptures that help?
My heart and prayers go out to all who were affected by the Las Vegas shooting. I am praying for you and cheering you on to find recovery and peace. I sincerely hope this is an encouragement to those reading. I would never want to be insensitive or minimize this horrific tragedy.
With sincere love,