The F word that breeds the most destruction…FEAR. Fear keeps us from pressing into things and relationships that need courage and intentionality, and fear can steer us to actions that seem courageous and purposed but breed destruction. Fear isolates us. Fear brings polarization. Fear clouds truth. Fear elicits emotional response without thoughtfulness. Fear shuts us down, and Fear speeds us up. Fear brings confusion. Fear is often a driving force that we do not observe in ourselves.
Fear: ‘an unpleasant, often strong emotion, caused by anticipation and awareness of danger’
(Jen’s thoughts—the anticipation and awareness of danger come from our perception and are not necessarily true and founded but it affects us all the same)
When left unchecked and in a life without margin to reflect, fear is a barreling freight train that destroys us and our relationships. Depending upon our makeup, it may breed passivity or aggression or passive aggression to destroy relationships. All of us lean toward one of these in our natural responses to life and to obstacles. My bent? Aggressively filling my life with projects I can control to produce “pleasant feelings” while passively avoiding facing those that are painful and that are not quick fixes. Ugh.
It’s ironic how often I forget simple truths. There are several repeated phrases throughout the Psalms that I would do good to remember—“Remember…Do Not forget…Do not fear…” These all have the heart to stop and remember God’s character, His purposes, the way His hand has moved in our lives, His commands, and His heart. Simply stopping and remembering allows my breathing to slow. It allows for an eternal perspective instead of a circumstantial drowning in fear. It reminds me that I am NOT in charge, nor do I want to be. It reminds me that the emergency news stories of today whether it be in my family or across the world, are a blip on the screen of history. It calls me to remember that I am more mature than I was at 9 or 18 or 32 and that the work in me is not finished. It reminds me that life is lived moment by moment and day by day with choices to fear or to trust Him. It reminds me that He is a Good Good Father who does not fret or worry or wring His hands. It changes my perspective on the situation.
When fear is our compass, our perception and emotions are steering the ship. When fear steers the ship, our vision is impaired. The truth? Fear is steering our ship naturally. Add in the pace of our lives and the amount of information coming at us without margin to be reminded of Truth, and we get in a pattern of guardedness or aggression that we are terrified to actually face. So, we journey on in fear actually growing nowhere.
What is a compass? A compass is a magnetized navigational instrument that reads what true North is. An instrument in which you get your bearings
Is there a True North in life? The answer is yes—the Creator, The Everlasting One, the One who calls you to remember that He is Truth. He calls us to Reverence Him and not to fear Man (Proverbs 29:25) He proclaims that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom—and knowledge of the Holy One, insight.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (perception/fear as compass), in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths. (aka He will be your compass).” Proverbs 3:5-6
When we have put our trust in Him, He reminds us that ‘He has not given us a Spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ 2 Timothy 1:7
We so easily forget when we have not stopped to remember His words and His faithfulness and His heart. I have done that in parenting this week. I have looked at behaviors and patterns and obstacles in complete fear and overwhelm which has naturally caused panic on the inside and passivity on the outside. There are so many complicated emotions. I cannot stay there with the compass of fear measuring.
I am reminded that life is a growth process that happens day in and day out. I am reminded that parenting is not about shielding my children from the world so that they do not experience hardship or pain but it is about showing them who to go to and who to trust when they come against trials. I am reminded that raising men is what God has called me to do. My children will (most likely) be men longer than they will ever be boys, and shepherding them now is teaching them to be responsible, to work hard, to humbly deal with their weaknesses and strengths and to Trust God with everything. I am reminded to invest emotionally in their tender hearts by spending time with them in the good and the bad. I am reminded that my weaknesses will be met with the Strength and Faithfulness of the Lord when I show up in the details when all I want to do is bury my head in the sand to avoid the pain of the moment.
With the Lord as the Compass, it allows for me to put things in perspective and live with a greater Hope and with a direction. I invite myself and You to take account today of where we are allowing fear to be our compass. It is a very poor substitute for True North.