Category Archives: fear

Sometimes Facebook is useful

Saw this on Facebook today and couldn’t quite bring myself to ‘share’ it.  I don’t THINK its because I’m a horrible ashamed Christian, but maybe not wanting my colleagues to think I’m weird makes me that.  But I can’t help but feel like FB sort of hangs things out there sometimes with a context void and makes people weird.

Anyway, enough about my FB issues.  Here’s what I saw… Felt useful to remember…

 

God

  • Stills You
  • Reassures You
  • Leads You
  • Enlightens You
  • Forgives You
  • Calms You
  • Encourages You
  • Comforts You

Satan

  • Rushes You
  • Frightens You
  • Pushes You
  • Confuses You
  • Condemns You
  • Stresses You
  • Discourages You
  • Worries You

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The Problem with being single : The things people say (and what I did with it)

They said marriage and children are really hard.  No, like really hard… Seriously.  And this is good – honesty is good.  But, if you’re hoping to get married, make sure it is to The Right Person.  And, actually, while you’re at it, make sure you are The Right Person.

They posted endless Facebook articles : 8 ways to find a godly marriage partner, 10 things Christian men should look for in a bride, 15 things godly women need in a husband, 20 characteristics of a God-honouring marriage…

They said to find someone who would lead me spiritually, someone who would encourage me in all my gifts, someone who would push me to be the very I best I could be.

They said that if it were right, I would ‘just know’; that if it were real, it wouldn’t be so hard.

They said to seek out a man of character and to stay away from anyone with ‘issues’.

They said to make sure I was ready; my issues  prayed away, my patience perfected.

Later, they added things like ‘financial security’, ‘more than sexual attraction’, ‘shared values’.  Think about who’ll die first, who might get sick, where you might live, how you’ll spend your money, raise your kids, paint the bathroom, cook your pasta, scratch your… Well. You get the idea.

So, I packed up all these thoughts and questions and traits and hoisted them onto my back.

 I didn’t notice the weight at first, because I wanted marriage, I wanted to choose well, I had to choose well.  And now that I carried this stuff with me, when it came to being in a relationship, I knew what it would look like, how it would feel, what I would do, what he would do, what we would be together : a lean, mean, godly marriage machine. And it would last, I’d be sure it would last.

I, particularly I, would need to be sure it would last.

Then I fell in love.

No-one said I would come face to face with my fears as I accidentally fell for someone so completely unexpected. Someone so completely… Human.

 No-one said (or I didn’t hear it well) that life tends to be a little less tidy than my backpack of relationship expectation.  They didn’t post Facebook articles offering 8 ways to stop being Shit-Scared of marriage when your parents are divorced, 10 ways to loosen your vice-like grip on what you perceive to be control, 20 characteristics of two screwed up human beings trying to build a life together while trusting grace.

So I find myself in a relationship with someone whose complete human-ness is irritatingly out of my control (this is tongue-in-cheek, but – seriously?!? No-one said I would need to surrender control!). But in all his uncontrollable human glory, he is funny and gentle and GOOD. And I love him.

Those things they said I should look for, should do, should be… They haunt me sometimes. Sometimes they haunt me often. There tends to be plinky-plinky Disney-like music and chirupping birds echoing somewhere in the background. There is always fear.

I am not afraid of his imperfection – though sometimes The Lists would have me think so. (Then I can blame it on someone else.) I am not afraid of infidelity and drama. I’m afraid of me.

This is my fearful shame :

After all these years of praying for someone who wouldn’t give up on me, my biggest fear is that it will be me who gives up because marriage and kids is really hard.  No, like really hard… Seriously.  Like, maybe too hard for anyone other than The Right Person.

And if there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past few years, it is that I am not The Right Person.

I am only me.  He is only him.  And that load on my back is only Heavy.

Stuff the lists.

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Filed under dating, fear, heart, love, relationships, risk, singleness

Goodbye Death

Its hard to say definitively that I’ve said more goodbyes than your average 30 year old, but I suspect I may at least be above average in these stakes.

The more I say it, the more it feels like death, even if I know it is not a forever-farewell.  Maybe it is the very fact that I’ve turned 30 that makes this process harder?  Something to do with my biological clock perhaps???  Or maybe just that, as a spring reaches the point of no return, I’ve said so many in such a short space of time that I’m fast approaching the “I’m-done-with-this-can’t-do-it-anymore” point.

Whatever it is, it sucks.

And yet…

The pain of goodbyes and changes is in direct correlation with the joy of love.  It hurts only because we love.  Okay, so I’m sure that it is not always purely altruistic – I might cry when you leave because I’m lonely and don’t want to be – but a large part of it is because of love and our pain serves to help us see and appreciate that we love and are loved.

If we allow ourselves to ignore the pain of goodbye, we are in denial of love.  If we focus only on the pain of goodbye, we miss the joy of love.  To engage fully with the relationship between love and the pain of farewells, is to celebrate the power of resurrection life.  Jesus did not merely ‘come back from the dead’, he passed through death, he went beyond it and broke its power over us.

We need no longer fear.

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Filed under fear, love, perspective, suffering

The Name

It doesn’t have a name.  This thing that pulses in my gut, it has no name.

 

So how do I pursue it when I don’t know what to tell the driver?  Follow that car!  Which one? Er.. the one with the… in the… where the…

 

I shrug helplessly and sit back down on the bench in Park Frustration on Despair Street.

 

I know.

 

It has beauty… creativity and freedom and colour.

It has connection… conversation and sharing and tears of all kinds.

It has discovery… understanding and newness and joy.

 

But it doesn’t have a name.  At least not within my current vocabulary.

 

So what do I do?  There are no maps for No-where, no buses to Every-where, no GPS satellites anywhere.

 

Take root here? Go anywhere but here?

Cry out Hope and shout down Fear.

 

Pick myself up, look at the horizon and start walking.  Spend time in Beauty, cultivate Connection, pursue Discovery.  Hunt it down, seek it out. Find.

 

* * *

 

But what happens when all roads seem blocked?  When there are no doors, no windows… Just this bench called Waiting.

 

Choose still.  Wait in Hope, weight in Fear.  Does the cut wood build a boat or fix the roof in preparation for the coming rain?

 

Will it come at all?

 

The reign of hope over fear.  Known and unknown.

 

The rain.

 

Untamed.

 

The Name.

 

Face upturned, open hands.  I wait.

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Filed under beauty, change, fear, hope, questions

Finding God

Theology becomes rich only when it survives the onslaught of pain.  And sound theology leads us through our pain to a fuller experience of Christ and therefore of hope and love and joy.

The pain that opens our hearts to search for God is deep… it is the pain of someone who wants to enjoy pleasures he cannot find and who fears that misery seems inevitable and perhaps deserved.  It is pain that makes us stand still and think about something outside of ourselves, something more important and more interesting than our concerns about who we are and how we’re getting on.  It is pain that compels us to ask terrifying questions about life and God.

Only the frightening, immobilising and awe-inspiring realisation that we are out of the Garden with no way back in… will stop us long enough to hear… God speak through His word to introduce us to an unmistakably new dimension of life.

Larry Crabb, Finding God

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Esther

“For such a time as this” is the most quoted line from this little Old Testament book.  As I picked it up tonight, after exfoliating and moisturising my face and scrutinising my flaws in the mirror, I wondered what a story about a beauty pageant winner might have to tell me.

Reading the story from Peterson’s The Message translation (is that the right word for it?) certainly helps with the flow of this little récit about a shaky moment in Israel’s history.  I had never realised before that King Xerxes’s reason (or rather that fed to him and enflamed by his advisors) for banishing and essentially divorcing his wife Queen Vashti were so sexist.

After days of revelry and drunkenness, Xerxes decides he’d like to show off his beautiful trophy-wife in front of all his mates.  She refuses.  We could elegise Vashti and say it was because she did not want to demean herself or whatever, but I’d say it could equally be because she was concerned with her own girly party and was looking worse for wear, or couldn’t be bothered getting changed…!  But anyway.  Her refusal is seen as an affront to Xerxes’ authority and ownership of her – the King can’t control his own wife?!?  The men (some probably trying not to snigger behind their hands) terrify the King that the whole land of women will be in uproar and will be disobeying their husbands right left and centre!

So Queen Vashti is punished – they make an example of her in order to keep the whole nation of women subordinate to their husbands.

Suddenly this ‘story about a beauty pageant’ got more interesting to me…

Its nearly bedtime so I’m not gonna spend ages pontificating about this, but here is what struck me…  Firstly I can almost smell the boorishness of Xerxes and his buddies – not an unfamiliar scent even today.  Secondly, Xerxes’ wife was the least of his problems – it was the power his reputation in the eyes of his male friends had over him that would worry me!  Third, the desire for control, absolute control, over people (in this case women in particular) and their behaviour in relation to one’s own desired state of affairs.  And four – the role of ‘fearful what-ifs’ in making a complete shambles of a situation.

Fast forward to Esther’s reign as queen.  It seems to me that her power and influence grows stronger – she seems to have been given a place in decisions that matter.  Is it that Xerxes was madly in love with her?  Was he under her power because of her beauty?  Or was it that she had proved herself as capable and righteous because of her petition on behalf of her people?  Did he have more respect for her character and goodness?  Was he listening less to those eejits he’d had around him before?  Who knows.

I like that Esther had more influence and that she is hailed for her courage and faithfulness in ‘such a time as this’ is good and right.  But I can’t help but notice that there’s a rather bloody end to this tale…

Once the order to exterminate the Jews was revoked, the King had granted them the right to arm and defend themselves should anyone have missed or disobeyed the revoke.  Fair enough… But suddenly the land becomes a blood bath!  The Jews kill 75,000 people!  Rather than it being a defensive “this-guy-came-to-my-house-to-kill-my-children-so-i-clunked-him-one”, it became a “I’m-a-Jew-yeoo-I-will-kill-you-because-you-hate-me-grrrr”.  The cull might have been half that number, but Esther asks the King to allow the killing to go on for another day.  What the flip??!!

I can’t help but notice that before this request to the King, there is no three days of fasting and prayer.

So, as I head off to get my beauty sleep… What have I learned from this story?  It could take a while to refine, but it seems to me that given a little bit of power, men and women can be complete idiots.

Thank God for grace.

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Filed under beauty, bible, fear, God, grace, men, story, women

Reckless Abandon

I am terrified of being myself.

I feel strength and passion within me that don’t fit with the ‘nice girl’ image that seems most acceptable to the world.

I fear stepping out as me for two main reasons.

One : My strength and passion demand a confidence and courage that would undoubtedly be intimidating to most men, thus lowering my chances even further of being fallen in love with and married.  The ridiculous thing about this is that I do not want a husband who would want me to be less than myself or what I am called to be.  I long to want that for a husband and for a husband who longs for that for me.  So to think of being a shadow of myself just so that I could marry someone is preposterous.

Two : I still fear that my strength and passion are nothing special.  That really all I have is this ball of longing for great things I cannot name and therefore cannot offer; that I cannot work out what it is I am meant to be doing and that even if I do, it won’t be anything worth making a fuss over.  These feelings are also ludicrous because why do I feel like it needs to be something that others would be able to see and to measure?

I want to be me with reckless abandon.  Like the way God created his world : tucked away animals and plants in parts of the world no human eye would ever see, flung myriads of stars into space for sheer joy rather than for counting, made music and painting and poetry…

I want to give and receive love in that way – not in the tight-fisted manner of fear and self-protection, but with freedom and joy and reckless abandon

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Filed under beauty, fear, freedom, God, heart, hope, love, risk