He was late getting home. Thirty minutes dragged to 45, then into an hour. All that time, I continued pacing the floor. What began as a knot in my stomach had now turned into full-blown turmoil. Where was he?! In my mind various scenarios played out; none were pleasant. I pictured a car accident with him laying alongside the road, face down in a puddle of blood. With a hand on my pregnant belly while gazing at the faces of each of our seven children, I silently wondered--what will become of us?
I stared out the window, down the road, half expecting to see a police car. Do they still do that? Deliver bad news to unsuspecting family members when their loved one has been killed in an accident?
I would need to call Pastor of course. He would have to go with me to identify the body; there was no way I could do that on my own. I'm sure Pastor and his wife would help me make all the necessary arrangements as well...
Suddenly Terry's car was pulling into the driveway. At first I was relieved beyond words that he was safe. Praise God! I wasn't a widow with all these children to raise alone. I didn't have to worry about how we were going to get through the night. Or the next ten years.
But then he came strolling into the house, with a brief explanation of how he'd run into a friend at Walmart, like it was not a big deal that he was nearly 90 minutes late. Oblivious to the horror I had been through in planning his funeral and the rest of our lives without him, he smiled, kissed me lightly and asked what was for dinner.
I was furious!
That story seems hilarious to me now; but ten years ago, that was not the case!
I have battled fear for as long as I can remember. Fear of being embarrassed and humiliated. Fear of nuclear war. Fear of loss; of losing my parents (when I was a little girl) and loved ones to being afraid of losing a child. Fear of darkness. Fear of the unknown. Fear of pain. Of being alone. Fear of strangers. Of bad things happening to good people. Fear of death.
I once heard this acronym for fear that has stuck with me:
For instance, I spent much of my 13th summer behind locked doors, confined to the house, as some creepy man had somehow gotten my name and our phone number and began making regular disturbing phone calls to our house, describing in detail all the things he would do once he got me alone. They might have caught the deranged man, but soon after our line was tapped, Mom had taken the phone from me upon hearing his evil threats and blew up at the guy, telling him they were going to catch him. He hung up before the call could be traced and he never called back. The phone calls stopped, but the residual fear was embedded deeply in my young mind.
Then there was the child molester who lived next door for a season...
There are those instances when fear is a normal response to our situation. I am not saying all fear is bad. A little bit of healthy fear can perhaps help us make better choices. For instance, fear of debilitating disease may prompt a person to quit smoking or to eat healthier. Fear of consequences can also motivate our children in the right direction. "If you play in the busy street, you could get run over by a car."
The unhealthy fear I'm addressing is the kind that does more harm than good. The fear that disquiets the soul and paralyzes us. As being fearful causes us to be controlling and tense, it makes us ugly. And just as perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), fear wields the power to cast out love, as demonstrated each time we lash out with words when terror strikes our hearts.This is exactly the kind of fear that God warns against repeatedly in His Word.
Boiled down to its root cause, fear reveals a lack of trust in God.
In my next post, I'll be sharing how the Lord freed me from a lifetime of crippling fear.
Do you battle fear?