When all the world chatters

It was nearly midnight, but there is something about summer that allows me to ignore the fact that I like to be asleep before ten.  So I nestled myself into the coziness of my bed, and scrolled through the information highway.  I somehow came upon a blog that was written by a missionary from the same city that I am moving to next summer.  My interest was wide awake, and I clicked on post after post to get a view of what my life might look like there.

Some of the posts were centered on the beauty of the mission, some on the struggles of life that go along with living in a country other than your own.  As I continued to read, I saw less of wonder and felt more of fear.  This is not a feeling anyone welcomes, especially with a mind that is already processing so many other strong emotions.  I was desperate to talk it over with Tim, but he had already met his dreams and I didn't have the heart to pull him into my nightmare.

Instead, I turned to Pinterest because, you know, pretty things make me feel better.  I typed "scriptures on fear" into the search engine, and immediately the screen was filled with lovely versions of God's word typed in fancy letters and pasted onto amazing photographs of nature.  I took them in, one after the other, and repeated the truths that I had already committed to memory.  I had forgotten how many times God tells us not to fear.  I searched it later, and found that there are over 100 references related to this subject.  Clearly God knew fear was a problem for us, and clearly he doesn't want us to struggle with it.

I went to sleep a short time later, and struggled with it.  Of course I did.  I'm so good at that.  I don't remember the dreams I had, but only the feeling they left me with when I woke up.  I was timid, afraid, and discouraged.  All things that God tells me not to be.  I was reading truth, but I wasn't trusting truth.

When I was in nursing school, there was always this feeling of chaos and uneasiness on exam days.  The group of us would sit in the hallways outside of the classroom while we waited for the professor to arrive and open the doors.  I had always felt prepared for the challenge until I joined the group, and  was forced to listen to their nervous chatter.  It was as contagious as the diseases we were studying, and by the time I sat down in a desk with my #2 pencil I was a mess.

It wasn't long before I decided that I was not going to join my classmates in their competition to see who could obtain the highest level of anxiety.  I gave myself the freedom to rest in the fact that I had prepared to the best of my abilities, and I settled my mind in this confidence.  For me, this meant I had to leave the crowd, and walk that road alone.  Everything else was beyond my control.

I learned some things that day, and events in my life continue to reinforce them.  The first is that someone else's interpretation of reality is not mine.  What causes them offense or pain or anxiety or fear does not mean it will do the same to me.  I need to live my own experience.  The second is that I need to quiet the chatter of those around me, and stick to the truth I know within me.

It must be every day that I forget to remember.  I lose sight, I change focus.  I fall back into the patterns of anxiety followed by fear of the unknown.  I forget who I am.  I forget whose I am.

I am no fool to believe that life with Jesus will be smooth sailing.  We cannot avoid these roads of suffering if we are asked to follow him.  And this is who Christians are, Christ followers.  All of us.  We are not promised a life of ease and comfort and prosperity.  That is not truth.  Truth is this, he will never leave me or forsake me.  He will hold me in my fear and sorrow.  He sees me, he knows me, he loves me, and I will know him intimately through my pain and suffering.  I am not alone, and I am commanded to not be afraid.

May he help me to remember.


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