I can still hear the voice of my first principal, Mary Martin (Who reminded me of Mary Poppins because she loved to sing) singing this verse as a song to us..."Fear thee not for I am with thee be ye thou not dismayed, let no anxious thought or'take thee for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, surely I will help thee, surely I will uphold thee, with my righteous right hand, I will strengthen thee, surely I will help thee, surely I will uphold thee with my righteous right hand." Oh, Mary, I miss your songs and stories!
Today's chapter was all about The Anatomy of Fear. Joyce was teaching us that "confidence is holding on to a strong faith in God, a faith that is backed up with complete knowledge and understanding that with God's help you can do anything." One of my favorite verses, besides Isaiah 41:10 is Philippians 4:13...I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And sometimes even if I still feel afraid or controlled by fear I say those words of truth over and over until I believe them, and until I can calm down and just let go of the fear and trust God.
Fear is a panic that can overtake you with no notice. Have any of you ever had a panic attack? I have. It started in High School during my senior year. One minute I was putting books in my locker, and the next minute I was hovering in my guidance counselor's office unable to breathe slowly, sweating profusely, and it felt like my heart would come out of my chest. I couldn't move. Fear is powerful...but God is bigger than all our fears, Amen?
I began having panic attacks my senior year because I lived with an alcoholic parent that was unwilling to change their lifestyle. It made me fearful to go home. It made me angry and it affected a lot of my choices to never even want to drink alcohol as a teen. I didn't have my first sip of alcohol til about Sophomore year of college because of fear of what it could do to me.
Fear can cause us to withdraw, retreat, it eats away our confidence, and our self assurance. I never wanted to go home as a teen because I didn't know what I could expect when I got there. Would there be drinking going on? Anger? Quietness? Control? I think because I couldn't predict or depend on the mood of my parents I began to fear the unpredictableness of it all.
During College I got professional counseling for all four years while I was on campus about the fear I had and my alcoholic parent. Facing my fear, talking about it, acknowledging it all helped. For years our family kept this secret. A purple elephant was in the room, so to speak, and noone was allowed to discuss or mention it for fear of upsetting the parent. Thank God we never faced any physical abuse whatsoever, but I believe their was emotional abuse because I was so confused and messed up until I began to face my fear.
Joyce Meyer says, "Confrontation is extremely difficult for many people, but it must be done unless we want other people and other things to control our lives." My friend Christy H. helped me to write down my feelings to my parent to tell them how I struggled growing up and tell them about their sin and how it affected me. I think as I wrote this letter in 2002/2003 I never really intended on giving it to them. I was still afraid of speaking truth in love and sharing how I felt, even when my parent was no longer drinking anymore (another blessing from God). The fear stopped me from moving on and kept me in the past.
"Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it." Well, when I was pregnant with Mark, in 2009, God put it heavy on my heart to pull out that 4 or 5 page letter and read it to both my parents. I also had some sins I wanted to share with them. I've learned that Satan loves to keep sin in secret. He loves to keep us in darkness. "What we hide in the darkness has to be brought into the light if we're going to get rid of it." I drove over to my parents' home in fear, my heart was pounding, my stomach hurt, I really was afraid, but at the same time I had a peace that what I was about to say/confront/do was not only from God but it was the right time. "Fear means to run away from or to take flight, but confrontation means to face something head-on." I sat down in our living room and confronted my parents. We laughed together. We cried together. And it couldn't have gone better. I could see the regret and love in their eyes...and the almost audible sigh of relief that the "secret was out"...sin can only truly be dealt with when put into the open. I shared my past sins and was very honest about my childhood. Because of all that I can proudly say we are so much closer as a family, perfect, no way! But on the right track.
I'm not applauding my confidence either...it took me over 6 years to read that letter out loud and confront my parents, but God knew that all the time. He allowed me to "Do it afraid" sometimes the only way to face our fears is to just face them afraid and trust God's strength will get us through...but we have to take the first step. Remember, God is our partner, we don't do anything alone. Take confidence in your God who will uphold you with His victorious right hand! "Confidence is holding on to a strong faith in God, a faith that is backed up with complete knowledge and understanding that with God's help you can do anything!"
See Suzette's book club post here. http://godlyrose.blogspot.com