Conquering People Pleasing with Peace

I will be honest here from the get-go; I struggle constantly with the fear of man. Most days my mind is flooded with questions like, “Did I word that right for them, or did that come across unintentionally rude?” “Did her text message response seem upset towards me? If so, why? What did I do?” Of course, like most things, these small worries of mine ebb and flow with seasons of life. It often feels like I become more fearful and worrisome when I have been distant from God.

There is a proper balance of all things in my life, only when I am remaining close to my Source. I have less fear of man when I am abiding in Christ where I see my true identity and value. When I let life drag me away from my Bible and prayer, I often get very wrapped up in the evil one’s schemes against me. What more could please the evil one than a Christian too fearful of man to pursue God?

Fear Britney Bradley

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 A favorite worship song of mine, “Forever Reign” by Hillsong is playing on repeat in my mind today. It is deeply connected to my struggle of fearing man and life circumstances, and not serving my Lord.

You are peace, You are peace,

When my fear is crippling;

You are true, You are true,

Even in my wandering

 

You are joy, You are joy,

You’re the reason that I sing;

You are life, You are life,

In You death has lost its sting!

The Lord is near, my dear friends! He is close and He is available to calm our fears and draw us close. I pray that this post, if nothing else, is a simple reminder that we Christians have direct access to the Author of Life, the Mighty One, who fights for us and loves us deeply. We cannot let fear of man grip our hearts and distract us from God’s call on our lives. My prayer for you and for my own heart today is:

Lord! You are near to us, You promise that. Please convict us of our distracted and fearful hearts. Let us lay down in Your comforting presence, and let us move forward this day towards peace in You alone.

Britney Bradley Fear


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 4 little girls, Ruby, Cora, Lily, and Opal, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.
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Diagnosing Fear

Author: Kate Franken

I hung up the phone, after having received the results of my liver ultrasound. I felt strangely calm, despite the words the doctor had spoken. I dialed my mom. The minute she picked up, the calm dissipated and the tears formed. With a shaky voice, I relayed the call, “The calcifications they found on my liver likely mean I have cancer in a nearby organ.” In response, my mother remained calm. Her words reassured.

In the hours that followed, my mind raced. I sat stuck in my classroom, grade sheets strewn about, unable to regain the pace I had been working at. Amidst the wandering of thoughts, I recalled a sermon a few Sundays before. Our congregation had been ruminating on Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” and my pastor had posed the questions: “Can, in all honesty, I say for me to die is to gain? Do you believe that departing and being with Christ would be far better than your life?” I had wanted to say “Yes” and for it to be true of me. But now as I contemplated, feeling the ticking of life’s clock, I knew “No” to be the more accurate response. I didn’t want to die.

Once I escaped the classroom, a long weekend unfurled. Visits and phone calls from friends and family kept me fairly occupied, helping me process the potential diagnosis. I got lost a time or two or more on a trail of google searches. From one conversation to the next, a long list of questions to ask the doctor arose. Invariably, tears streamed. An inordinate amount. I couldn’t control the tears. In addition, to the puffy eyes, the tears left me with redness under the eyelids that burned to the touch.

Fear Kate Franken

I felt shame that I worried. I tried to muster strength, repeatedly assuring others with “God’s got this!” A while later, in a Sunday morning sermon, God addressed this shame. The guest pastor averted our eyes to Jesus, how he wept, and how he was emotionally invested in the world. Then he posed the question: “Does Jesus know that the Father is in charge of everything? Of course, Jesus knows.” He owns his emotions and doesn’t put up a facade. Our hurts our real and we shouldn’t put up a pretense either. I loved the guest pastor’s directions to, “Feel. And look to the glory that is coming”.

Finally, Monday came. I sat before my doctor, listening to him expound on a number of potential causes for the abnormal findings on my liver. He eased my tension, conveying less certainty I had cancer than the doctor on the phone.

The next six weeks slowly passed as I took the tests ordered originally by my primary care doctor, then by my gastroenterologist, and then by my oncologist. The tests were never hard. It was in the waiting, that I crumbled.

I attempted to soften the blow of a diagnosis by imagining I already had the disease being tested for. I was already considering the cut and color of the wig I would purchase when I lost all my hair. These thoughts would come and go, particularly when I was alone. But largely, after that first week of processing my ultrasound results, I felt peace. It didn’t make sense, with what seemed to loom ahead. Frequently, I was questioned as to why I wasn’t more distraught. I didn’t have to search for an answer.

Only God can give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. No human can fabricate it. But they can pray for it. For me, God used community to bring about peace. The frequent check-ins, the intentional visits, the prayer said over and for me were constant reminders that I am not alone, God is with me.

In time, breast cancer, cervical cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, ovarian cancer, lymphoma, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, B, & C, and HIV were ruled out. However, it was discovered that my liver and the surrounding lymph nodes were enlarged. The concern for the size of the liver and lymph nodes was debated upon, but ultimately a tumor board determined that it likely isn’t cancer. I will have a cat scan in a few months to check, just in case.

Sarcoidosis remains a potential cause of my liver abnormalities. It is hard to diagnose, and even with a diagnosis, nothing can be done. There’s no cure for Sarcoidosis. I will be monitored annually with blood tests, to be privy to changes in the functioning of my liver.

I’ve learned a lot, having walked this road with its’ roller coaster hills. The fears it stirred up reminded me I’m not God. I am powerless and dependent. Power emanates from God alone.

I gained awareness of how I misplaced fear. Only God is worthy of fear. I feared cancer, just as the disciples feared the wind and the waves one stormy night. Cancer, wind, and waves are not to be feared. God controls all things. With a love that is unwavering, He chooses how to exercise His sovereignty.

Kate Franken Fear (2)I tackled a question that gnawed at my trust in God: Does God care? When things aren’t going the way we think they should, it’s easy to wonder if God even cares. But all one has to do is look at Jesus on the cross. He knows our pain. His sacrifice shows he cares infinitely. Author Bob Goff says it like it is, “Fear calls out doubts; God calls out our names. Be picky about who you listen to.” Don’t be ruled by your doubts, but be attuned to God’s voice amidst your wilderness.

 

 

God has awoken me from my slumber. While there’s is no definitive answer to my liver abnormalities, there is greater clarity on how I want to spend my life. I want Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21 to be my own. Pastor John Piper restates the verse in his own words as, “Christ is most magnified when we’re more satisfied in him than in what we lose in death and what we have in life.” May we continue to grow in our hunger for Christ and remember this is not our home. May we be like Paul, not caring what happens, just wanting the gospel to be advanced.

 

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

2 Lies that Leave Me Stuck in Fear

I was five years old. I had already been asleep for a while, but the deep night was about to be disturbed. I woke with a start to thunder crashing over our house and lightning illuminated my room. When I realized my sister had left her bunk and I was alone, I grabbed my blanket and ran through the house to my parents’ room.

A lamp was on and they were awake talking while my mom was rubbing my sister’s back. I threw my blanket on the floor and buried my face in it, praying out loud “God, please make this thunderstorm stop!” Not sure what to do next I kept my head in my blanket and waited. It was silent. I jumped up from my crouched position and exclaimed to my family, “I prayed that God would make the thunderstorm stop, and it did right when I said stop!”

Keri Nikkel Fear

Oh to have faith like a child. It is crazy for me to think about that story sometimes and remember how I felt in that moment. Scared out of my mind, but confident in my God. As an adult, trust like that hasn’t come as easy. When fear comes upon me, God isn’t always the first one I turn to and it’s taken me a long time to realize that. I do pray about my fears, but I don’t always have an open hand when I am giving them to Him. After realizing this I dug deep into my heart as to why I don’t always fully trust God with my fear and two main reasons have stood out.

Lie 1: I believe the lie that God doesn’t care or is too busy for me.

Of all the things in the world that He must be paying attention to, why would he care about my fear? Surely there are more pressing matters, especially when many times my fear ends up being irrational. So I shrug it off and think it’s not important enough to bother Him with. But Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:7 to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.

As a parent, I have seen my young son fall down many times and the first thing he does (after getting up, of course) is run to me. While I don’t relish in the fact that my child is hurting, it makes my heart swell knowing that He comes to me for comfort. There is a reason God is referred to as “Father”, He loves us and wants us to come to Him with our worries and fears.

Fear Keri Nikkel (1)

 

Lie 2: God can’t handle it.

It’s hard to see that written, but it happens to me often. I get wrapped up in the “what ifs” and details. My mind spins, and I can’t find a solution to change something or make it go away. It paralyzes me and coaxes me to think that God surely can’t do anything. But that is not what is shown all throughout the Bible. David, for example, did not question whether God was mighty enough to help him defeat Goliath. Saul was trying to keep him from fighting the giant since he was just a boy and David replied, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37

Whatever our fear is, our God is bigger. I’m still not great at handing Him my fears, I am stubborn and tend to want to control the outcome. But as I spend more time with the Lord reflecting on scripture and all He has done in my life, I remember that He is the one in control. As David says in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” We may not be able to control the frightening storms that disturb the peace of our lives, but we can trust in a mighty God who loves us.


KeriKeri is a wife and stay at home mom. God has, and is, using many situations to teach her to abide in Him. She believes we are all given a story that can help encourage others and hopes to offer hers as an encouragement to you.

Fear Doesn’t Get the Last Word

The first time I met Robert*, he sat quietly with shoulders hunched, looking like he wanted to melt into the white plastic chair we’d offered him. His gaze fell to the floor, eyes telling a story devoid of hope or joy. Most men his age would have traveled alone, but Robert came with his father, who now spoke on his behalf. The reason was clear – a massive tumor protruded from Robert’s jaw, hindering his ability to eat or speak, and bringing him ridicule or rejection from most of society.

The two had traveled several days from their village to reach our hospital, in hopes that Robert could receive surgery and leave his tumor behind. For the next few days as he awaited surgery, shame and fear kept Robert secluded in his room, hidden away from everyone else in our center.

Rachel Olson Fear (1)

But when the morning of his surgery finally came, Robert was nowhere to be found. He’d heard the fearful rumors of his village louder than the reassurances of his father. He ran away at the last minute, terrified of the one place offering free relief from his burden.

When Robert disappeared, his father spent every minute trying to find him. After about a week, Robert returned in spite of the fear and had a successful surgery. Not only that, but a few months later he returned with 4 friends from his village to see if they could also receive help for their medical needs! Once crippled by fear, he now wanted others to know the freedom he’d found. I hardly recognized the young man in front of me who now stood tall and confident, grinning ear to ear.

The details of Robert’s experience go far beyond my ability to understand or relate to – so I want to be sure I don’t minimize that in any way when I say this – but on some level, there’s something about his story that resonates. The voices of our culture, people close to us, and our own doubts and fears speak loudly at times, telling us what to value and how to live; clamoring for us to cling to the security we think we can see, even in times when God is calling us to embrace risk and make decisions that require complete trust in him. Whose voice will we hear louder?

Fear Rachel Olson

When I look at fear through the lens of this story, it becomes powerless. I see the reflection of the One who is worthy of my love and trust. While we may not always understand what he asks of us and it may be a long and windy road before we see the purpose in some of it, he is good and his ways ultimately lead to freedom. May we set aside our own village rumors and trust fully in the reassurances of our Father.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the United States after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

 

*name changed

3 Paths to Lead You Away from Fear

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “fear” is our car accident nearly a year ago. I’m reminded of how I felt as I crouched on the dusty sidewalk off Hwy 22. Sobbing, I clutched my four-year-old, my two-year-old, and my six-week old baby and assured myself that they were okay. My chest felt like it had been crushed (just some deep bruising from the seatbelt), and the fear was overwhelming as I thought of what could have happened to us.

That fear developed into flashbacks, difficulty driving, and anxiety attacks. The last year has been a journey confronting my fears. Here are 3 things to do when you find yourself in the middle of fear.

Live in the day God has given you.

Sarah Clews FearEach day I can easily find something to fear—things that could happen, things that have happened to people I know, things I can only imagine. But I only have today. I have wasted countless hours fearing things that haven’t even happened.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” -Matthew 6:34 (NLT)  

This scripture couldn’t be truer. I’ve spent so much time borrowing trouble when I actually have so little control over any of it.

Trust that God is in control of it all.

It’s hard to trust that God is in control when I know He might allow hard things to happen. I know the story of Job, but I also know the goodness of God is unchanging. It’s His plan for my life that I want, but His plan may include tragedy and heartbreak I don’t want. I can’t stop trials from happening, but I can depend on the character of God.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

After our accident, I frequently listened to this song “Even If” by Mercy Me.


Fear Sarah Clews
“I know you’re able

And I know you can

Save through the fire

With your mighty hand

But even if you don’t

My hope’s still you alone”

 

Look forward to eternity with God.

It might sound a little morbid, but sometimes the only comfort to me, when things are hard, is remembering that one day it will all be made right. Whatever goes awry in this world, God will one day redeem. On the new earth one day, all our tears will be wiped away and all the difficulties ended.

He will swallow up death forever!
    The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery
    against his land and people.
    The Lord has spoken!

In that day the people will proclaim,
‘This is our God!
    We trusted in him, and he saved us!
This is the Lord, in whom we trusted.
    Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!’ -Isaiah 25:8-9


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

Positively Perplexed

Undulating road rolls under my chronically tumbling mind as I seek to soothe it by cycling into exhaustion. Call it my relief effort, or my ride to escape. However, I neither find relief nor escape. But I do find God.

Perplexed. That’s what I am. And being perplexed is like walking the side of a steep, muddy slope: one misstep and it’s a quick slide to the quicksand of fear at the bottom.

I know not what to do next. Answering that seemingly simple question is like putting pressure on a knot in my back that suddenly radiates threads of needles into previously unprotesting parts of my body. My whole network of nerves lights up with alarm, just as pressing into a tangled quandary of the mind lights up the whole network of interrelated areas of life: sin, personality, values, goals, beliefs, feelings, fears, purpose, culture, and more. The complexity of perplexity entangles me and threatens to strangle me into paralyzed fear.

 

Kimberley Mulder Fear (2)But who among us does not live in some amount of intricate confusion? Some live with health problems that radiate into finances, lifestyle, purpose, relationships and more. Others live tied up in challenging jobs riddled with sinful people and systems, fears of failure, lack of compensation, and questionable values. These are but two examples of the complexity of everyday life.

This is part of the human condition. We do not know all, and never will. No amount of understanding and figuring it out will free us of the puzzles of life. The danger is, in our attempts to escape the discomfort of perplexity, we despair and assume that our lack of clarity means God doesn’t know or care. We must find the peace in perplexity, the pace of it, for we will run our entire lives within its confines. How can I be positively perplexed and not slide into despair?

The Apostle Paul was perplexed. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” He accepted that his mortal body had its limits and would feel its sufferings in the midst of this complex world, and that God’s power and glory surpassed these limits, lifting him from the morass of natural fear into supernatural peace. He names perplexity as suffering, but he never translates these sufferings into beliefs that God was somehow against him or absent. For Paul, the only reason to despair, ever, was if God were to leave him, which is an impossibility.

Fear Kimberley Mulder

So I persevere through my puzzlement, allowing God to put pressure on my knots to release me from fear. Then I can be at peace even while I wait and wonder, knowing that He is keeping me in this difficult position of humility in order to bring about His glory and power in my life. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t be at peace if I could figure out what to do next. Assuming the Lord was directing my decision, then I would receive peace. However, I can have peace even in the perplexity. For I know the One who created me, called me, holds me, and provides for me is always for me. I cannot be separated from His love. I trust that He knows, cares, and walks with me even in the confusing intricacies of my life.

I am positively perplexed, embracing my limitations of understanding. Positive that the power of God reveals Him bit by bit to my easily overwhelmed earthen being, and that the One who forever has perfect knowledge is guiding me through this present darkness.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, runs her proofreading business, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Finding Confident Faith in the Face of Fear

Author: Karly Grant

All of my life I’ve been a worrier. I still remember the prayer that I prayed every night before I went to sleep as a child, “Dear God, thank you for another day. Please help my family to sleep well and to stay safe. Please don’t let there be any fires, earthquakes, or anyone breaking into our house while we sleep. In Jesus name, Amen.”

As I’ve grown up, and grown in my faith, most of my fears have lessened and my prayers have become less rote (although I’m definitely not one to skimp on the “Help me, Jesus!” prayers that I often need). While most of these childish fears only return if I’m in real danger, there is one that has stuck with me from childhoodthe fear of failure. God desires for his children to live in freedom, and as he guides me through my current struggles, I am taken back to my childhood where this fear rooted long ago.

Karly Grant Fear

I revealed the litany I ran through nightly as a child, but once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I would also ask God not to let Jesus return that year. One of my earliest memories is accepting Christ at four or five years old. While I fully believe that I was saved that day, I didn’t automatically have all the answers and that scared me. I cried to my mom one day when I was about six because I was terrified of Jesus returning. I didn’t have the Bible memorized, and in my mind, I was going to get to Heaven and there would be a test. I was afraid I would fail God. My mom lovingly explained the truth to me, but for many years, I thought God would find I failed, and if I could just postpone a little longer surely I would get there. I still haven’t found perfection, but I have found grace.

God was on his own level but this fear seeped down to my relationships with family as well. There was a time when I was about eight that my family was visiting friends overnight. I woke up the next morning and the lady we were staying with told me that my parents were at the hospital because my mom had been struck with a migraine. This was a semi-common occurrence during this stage of my life, but somehow, being in a different city made it seem different. I, being the oldest of three kids at that time, felt the pressure of telling my sisters and comforting them. What if something happened to my mom? Would I know what to do? I piled unnecessary pressure on myself as a child, and I was afraid I would fail them all as I reached for my self-imposed unrealistic expectations.

_On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate._ -Psalm 145_5

Now I fear failing at life in general. I took some huge steps of faith in a direction that I felt God calling me and it looks nothing like what I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder am I failing those who supported me? I am currently unemployed and still living in a place that I am prepared to say goodbye to. My timeline has failed me, and the enemy is quick to step into this area of my life and hiss lies.

Here in the waiting is where God and I are camping. I’ve been fighting against the enemy and speaking truth about who God is and who He says I am, going from fear of failure to confidence that can only be found through God. Scripture and music have been key to remaining saturated in truth. My times of musical worship at home are anything but pretty. I often cry, sing horribly, and pound on the keys of my keyboard. While I may look miserable to an onlooker, these are sweet times with my Savior and some of the strongest points of warfare against our enemy. Michael W. Smith has a song that I’ve been listening to often these days called Surrounded. Some of the lyrics are “This is how I fight my battles… It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.

I’ve been doing a Bible study called Psalms for Prayer. While I read these Psalms that I’ve read many times before, they have been hitting me anew.

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” -Psalm 145:5

I find that reading scripture out loud and declaring the goodness of God is life-changing. God is so good. I realize in these times that I can be confident in Him. I don’t have to fear failure. He has a plan. He is with me. He never fails.


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year, she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. She is both terrified and excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

Driving Free

Author: Kate Franken

I couldn’t breathe. Every muscle tensed. My face turned hot and clammy. I could see myself driving off the bridge. I wanted to slam the brakes and runaway. And then, in my head, I saw all the cars hitting me from behind.

I wrestled against what I felt, despite its intensity, and steered myself off to the side of the highway, once I gradually made it over the bridge. And there I sat paralyzed with fear, trying to breathe. I eventually pushed myself back out onto the highway, knowing people were expecting me. I drove with trepidation, fearful of another panic attack.

Kate Franken Driving freeThis moment is so vivid for me, the feelings of having no control pulsed strong. It, among other panic attacks, sit locked in my memory, ready to haunt me whenever I drive bridges, busy highways, and always the freeway.

When this anxiety first surfaced a little over two years ago, I immediately tried to make sense of it. I however couldn’t make sense of it on my own. I didn’t understand people that had panic attacks. I didn’t understand how I could go from a fearless to a fearful driver almost overnight for no obvious reason.

Fortunately, over time, I made my hidden pain known, despite the overwhelming sense of shame the anxiety invoked. A friend with a biblical counseling repertoire and a brother pursuing a medical doctorate degree, have helped me piece together the root of this affliction. The year prior to the start of the panic attacks, I experienced a number of (small) incidents on the road in which control felt stripped from me. One was a near accident, in which the van in front of me hit ice and swung wildly over both lanes of the highway on a narrow overpass. I had to press forward and pray the van stayed in the other lane as I passed.

Twice, I was in a car that was rear-ended. Another accident occurred when a motorcyclist hit my rear tire as I pulled out from a store parking lot one night. I had looked both ways and had seen nothing. From my perception, the motorcyclist had come out from nowhere. It was questioned post-scene-of-the-accident, whether the motorcyclist had a headlight because none could be found in the pictures of the wrecked motorcycle. These occurrences combined have potentially given me a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Enemy ruthlessly attacked me in my weakness. I sought to get rid of the Devil’s foothold. I attempted the remedies for driving anxiety a Google search had rendered and the suggestions put forth by friends to no avail.

After a solid year of pushing myself to combat my fear, I gave up. I was tired of the panic attacks. They showed no sign of leaving. Back roads became my main means of going anywhere distant. I resigned to the belief that this affliction was my thorn. Like Paul, I had to accept that it wasn’t going to go away.

This mindset crippled me all the more. I’m certain the Enemy was wearing his evil grin as he saw me sink deeper into despair. But this is not where this story ends, for the Author of Freedom would not just let me be. He’s been faithful as I’ve endured this trial, using it for good. Great is my gratitude for all that He has shed light on as I’ve reached for freedom.

Driving free Kate FrankenI learned that fear and anxiety come about when we don’t trust that God is good. We are not living in obedience to God when fear and anxiety have a hold on us. For a professed believer, this can create feelings of shame, and thus the natural inclination is to believe a lie, to believe I can have both fear and anxiety and believe that God is good. But fear and anxiety will never loose its grip until you’re honest about your lack of trust in God. It’s when we are honest, that the Holy Spirit can then address the root issue.

My natural inclination to be self-sufficient and strong hinders me. When we are weak, He is strong. We need to lay down our fear and anxiety, and give it to the Lord. We can walk in the light when we stop pretending we’re not scared.

I  was impacted dramatically with the wisdom Apostle Paul imparts in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

When I resigned to my anxiety being my thorn forevermore, I had quit hoping. But it’s only with a hope in God that we can prevail against the Enemy’s schemes. It is only when we hope in Him that the best stories of freedom are written.

For too long, I wanted to ignore my affliction, thus I wasn’t praying about it. We need to be relentless in our communing with Our Lord, to have greater truth spoken over our lives. Each time we get on our knees and seek Him, our world is reoriented as it should be, with Him at the center.

The freedom I now experience allows me to travel over bridges and busy highways fairly painlessly. I’m steadily regaining my ability to drive on the freeway, after a year’s absence. Knowing where I’ve been and where I am now, only God could have freed me from these chains. He is the one to seek if we long to be free.

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

Becoming Aware of Terror

I heard the sniffling before I saw her. She descended the last step of the stairs and revealed her flushed, tear-streaked face. “What is wrong?” I implored. She replied, to my surprise, “I am so scared of the people who bombed the towers.” My heart ached, and my compassion for her late night fear was ignited. She was being haunted not by the typical childhood fear of the dark, but instead – a legitimate fear of darkness itself. This was the first year she had been mature enough to understand the depths of the tragedy of 9/11, and it was keeping her up at night. We had talked to her about it before, but this year she was more aware. They taught her History in her fourth grade class, and terror settled into her soul.

I held her close and did my best to speak louder than the voices of horror. I reminded her that there is good, that some hearts are made of flesh instead of stone, and that evil will eventually be overcome. I said in short, “Yes this is true, but we can stand against it. We need not be afraid. Fear is just another one of evil’s temptations to keep us from true life. We must be courageous. Don’t forget: God is in control, and you are His.”

There comes a time in the lives of children where parents can no longer shield them from the reality that there is trouble in this world, and it is our job to equip them to know how to stand against it. I have four children ranging from 10-4, and this tenderhearted one, is eight. The shock of processing the events of a broken world was too much this night, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.

I snuggled her slender frame and sloppy face to my side, lifted her chin, and gently asked her, “What does your name mean?” Having been told many times she replied, “I have the light.”

There is a reason we chose her name to have that meaning. We knew that in life she would need to be reminded. The world is scary sometimes, and things are often out of our control, but we get to decide if we will shine light or bring darkness. We wanted our daughter to know, she would have the light.

Sometimes I question my decisions to be so open with my children about the facts of life; that it’s not always easy, in life there will be suffering, and that evil is a real and present danger. But I won’t lie to my children so they can find false comfort. While I do try to protect the beauty of childhood innocence, I also want them to know truth, have hope, and find the secret to being content in all circumstances. I cannot hide my children from the world, but I can teach them to live in it courageously.

I acknowledged that this fear for her (and many others) is real, but that does not mean we cower. I tried to help her understand the luxuries of freedom and protection she has just because she lives in America. We also continuously try to teach our children to have a global perspective. While I hold my weeping child who is making up improbable dramas in her head, there are other children falling asleep to the sounds of waging warfare. I tell her of the things I have seen, and of the times Mommy and Daddy have traveled the world to offer help and the hope of Christ. Someday, I hope to take her with me so she can see how vast humanity truly is, and join me in the ultimate good we were both made for.

How can we share our light? How can we bring awareness to the next generation? Will we teach them to hide or teach them to rise? May we be bold, willing to face our own fears, and may we point at Jesus even when our eyes are washed with waves of tears. For the leaders of tomorrow are watching, asking if they can do the same.


Readers, Whether you have children or not, you can impact the next generation. How can you influence others to be in the light?

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

Hope for When it’s Go Time

Author: Chara Donahue

I was with my mom the first time I felt the thrill of a roller coaster, and last summer I stood in line for the same coaster, twenty-something years later with my own daughter. She waited nervously, boarded, and then…AND THEN… she jumped out of her seat and practically cemented herself onto the exit landing! She panicked. The moment she had been waiting for arrived, and she jumped ship completely. That day she chose fear over adventure.

Having to wait leaves ample time for us to let fear move into the front of our minds, so much so, that we can become crippled by anxious forebodings. We must find peace in the waiting, but we cannot allow it to make us comfortable, inactive, and resigned to the point that when it’s go-time and the dream is about to become reality, we run the other direction in fear.

We see this in the bride experiencing cold feet, the newly discovered talent getting stage fright, or that first date/day of college/new career. Two paths lie before us in these moments of anticipation, excitement and fear. Our fragile hearts may have trouble discerning the difference, but our actions will show our resolution.

We must choose a side. Will we run into, or away from, what we’ve been waiting for?

As we make our way through a fallen world, it can become easy to disbelieve our deep hopes, dreams, and stuff we don’t dare to ask or imagine could ever become a reality. We’ve had expectations crushed, plans deconstructed, and have sat in the trenches of fear wondering if moving forward, pursuing purpose, and hoping for the things of God is even worth it.

We need not submit to being tortured by questions such as: how we will handle it if what we’ve been waiting for isn’t as good as we hoped, or  what we will do if this too is taken away? A heavy heart, and  suspicious mind are all we gain when we act like we can control the unpredictable future that God is asking us to leave in His hands.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”-1 Peter 5:7

We cannot exchange promises for predictability. We prefer known pain to uncertainty. But we must not allow predictable pain to build illusions of security. It is nothing but a frail attempt to stave off being vulnerable to disappointment.

The Israelites whom God freed from the chains of oppressive slavery had waited and wandered toward the land God destined for them. They reached it, the first time, approximately close to two years after being freed from captivity. They  had their toes on the edge of the promised land, their wait was finally coming to an end, and then…AND THEN… they began to rebel against the hope that faith in a Holy God would see them through. They saw themselves as fools for believing, took their eyes off of the God of their deliverance, and they were focused only on all that could go wrong. They shouted, “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.[1]  They were ready to run, and because of their disbelief, they wandered the dessert for 40 years before taking hold of what God had promised. A full generation perished.

It doesn’t take much for people to turn back, scramble, and flee.

We preach a good God, but yet can act like He is out to get us. Because of Jesus we are not stalked by the wrath of God but are cleansed and brought near by His relentless love. In the blessing and the trial He is good. Yet in the blessing we fear, and in the trial we question. God has not given us a spirit of fear or demanded that we have it all figured out. Instead, He has offered us rest, peace, and promises we can trust Him. Why must we insist on striving in every season of life? Yes, there will be times of suffering, loss, and trial but there are also times of life, celebration, and blessing. Whatever the season, we can trust Him to sustain us, to never forsake us, and to be with us where ever we go.

May we immerse ourselves in the truth of Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The fear of disappointment can flow deep below the surface, but we cannot allow it to keep us from embracing the good gifts of a loving God. The mix of excitement and nerves washes over us with a new hope as we get closer to seeing what we have been waiting for be birthed into reality. Our heart can choose celebration or panic, adventure or self-inflicted little deaths.  We can step into the joy of the moment, or skulk slowly away in the shadows of fear.

Do not cower when go-time finally arrives; remember— God is who He says He is. Not a warden out to get you, but a Father who is for you. Let’s stop letting fear rob the children of God, and trust him by going into the new beginnings He has waiting.


Readers,  
What helps you find the courage to go after the things of God? 
Thank you for joining us for our February series The Wait, we hope you will join us in March for New Beginnings

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.