On Sunday, our children’s minister preached at church. She talked about faith and fear. She asked where in our lives are we living in fear instead of faith.
I asked, Where in my life am I not living in fear?
I am afraid we will never pay off the hospital bills and the car loan and we’ll have to live in this tiny house for the rest of our lives or that if we do pay them off, by the time we manage to save enough to afford a larger house, we’ll all be stark raving mad.
I am afraid I have brain cancer and that I’m going to die and my children won’t even remember me and they’ll wander through their lives with a mama-shaped hole in their hearts.
I am afraid Doug will die and I will have to raise four children on my own.
I am afraid that one of my kids will drown. Or get sick. Or injured. Or maimed. Or molested. Or kidnapped.
I am afraid I will never write another book. Or that if do write one, it won’t get published. Or if it gets published, it won’t sell and will get remaindered.
I am afraid that people look at me and think what a wreck I am and how glad they are that they’re not me. Or that they look at me and think what a sniveling whiner I am and don’t I see how good my life is and what is my problem anyway?
I am afraid that I will be this effing tired for the rest of my mortal life.
So I guess you could say I spend, oh, about half of my time and energy being afraid.
And time and energy are two things that are in really low supply in my life these days.
Which kind of makes me mad, you know? That I’m wasting these two precious, scarce commodities being afraid.
I know all the right answers, about how I shouldn’t borrow trouble, about how living in the present is the only place I’m okay and how I really am okay as long as I stay right here right now, about how God’s grace is sufficient for this day but like manna won’t last till morning or get me through whatever I fear tomorrow will bring, about how I’m totally wasting energy worrying and being afraid, about how it only robs me of joy in the present, etc., etc., ad infinitum.
I know all this stuff. But I’ve got 35 years of habitually anxious thought patterns to overcome if I’m going to live it, and for some inexplicable reason I’m a little tired these days and am not firing with both barrels at the anxiety demon that preys on my fear.
So I wrote the Bible’s number-one-most-repeated commandment and stuck it on my kitchen window. It’s not “Love God” or “Love others.” It’s “Fear not.” That’s what God and the angels always say to people when they show up.
Fear is what the anxiety demon always tries to fan into flame.
I wrote “Fear not” in all caps on two note cards and taped them to my kitchen window, to remind me that fear is not from God and I don’t have to live with it or in it.
But that didn’t seem to be enough. So I wrote these words, each on a separate note card, as a reminder and a promise to myself, and taped them underneath FEAR NOT:
I Will Not Be Afraid.
I will not be afraid. Because I am so tired of being afraid. Because I am so tired of missing out on the joy of now when I fear the future. Because I am just plain tired and don’t have energy to waste on fear.
It’s starting to piss me off, actually. I have such a good life. Yeah, it has its moments. But they’re just moments. On the whole, I probably have one of the best lives in human history. Health (well, except for the brain cancer), wealth (except for the small house), food to eat (if only I had time), a beautiful healthy family, friends who love me, a church community who cares for me. I mean, really. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than this. And if it all disappeared tomorrow, I would have missed it because I was so afraid it would disappear tomorrow.
I will not be afraid.
I will not be afraid.
I. Will. Not. Be. Afraid.
That anxiety demon can go to hell. And stay there.