Fears in the night are often just plain foolish – phantoms that amount to nothing but in the darkness of the moment appear larger than life. Recently I awoke in the night and found myself groaning in fear over how my recent Facebook post may be misconstrued. I lay there agonized until I woke enough to realize my folly. My dismay revealed a character flaw I needed to address: I get entrapped by the fear of what others think of me. This fear can hold me captive to insecurity; it can alter my decisions and cripple my ability to act.
The next morning I “went around the circle” (as we say in 3DM and The Order of Mission). I “repented” and then “believed” the good news. Thank God for the good news, the potential for change!
The process of what the Bible calls repentance is really just a process for learning and transformation. Change begins with simple observation. In this case I observed that I give fear too much power.
Next, I reflected on the implications of this problem. I thought about the stress that ensues whenever I put my trust in my Enemy’s false accusations. This stress causes all sorts of havoc in my life: it sucks the joy out the journey; it creates tension and sometimes even real physical pain; it makes me irritable and that can wound my relationships; it generally messes with me, and I don’t like it, and neither does God. On reflection I see that most of these fears are based on false assumptions. I’m believing a lie, and lies are always dangerous. My fears that others are judging me is really silly. And so what if they are. Does it really matter if I KNOW that God accepts and loves me?
Next, I discussed my quandary. Mark and I talked about what I’d realized. It felt good to share with someone, and I found that by bringing the deception into the light I could begin to realize that it wasn’t as ominous as I imagined. Just by saying it aloud I could begin to see my way clear: fear is not a life sentence to doom. With help I began to believe that God could overcome this giant.
I made a plan. Seeing folly and believing truth is a great start, but that only takes me half way “round” the learning circle. I have to move onward and do something about the good news. In his case my plan of action involved a renewed determination to grab what Paul and Apostle calls “the shield of faith” and the “armor of God.” It sounds cumbersome but actually I found it quite comfortable! I decided to change my mind from believing the lie that I am responsible for how I am perceived. Like Sally in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” I grabbed a new philosophy.
And my plan: each morning as I get dressed I would imagine myself “putting on” the armor of God – the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the sword of the Spirit. And then I would stand… Physically I would stamp my feet and stand strong in who GOD says I am! That would be my morning ritual… Then, I made myself accountable. I cut myself free from accountability to random people, and renewed my accountability to God and a few important, honest people who love me. I told them about my morning plan and asked them to ask me how it’s going.
It works. I’ve come full circle. I’ve changed. I’ve “repented” and I’m living in a new way. I’m not perfect and sometimes I still fall under fear. But I know where to turn. I can hide in God instead of under my covers. There, I’m never vulnerable, no matter what anyone thinks of me. No matter how they rock my boat, I can curl up with Jesus and sleep in peace through the storm, blissfully oblivious to anything other than the sound of His gentle breathing.
“God, my soul finds rest in you alone! You are there, and you love me. What else matters? If you are for me – and you are – who can be against me?”