The Thing About Fear

God delivered me an “aha!” moment this week. I’m still wrestling with it, so excuse any incoherence as I write and process these thoughts.

I’ve been struggling with fear this past year more than usual. Maybe it’s because I now have a baby, a little piece of my heart wandering around that I can’t always vigilantly protect. I began reading Unafraid by Susan Davis, and last April I wrote the following in my journal in response to a question she posed in the book, “…if you could honestly answer Jesus’s questions — Why are you afraid? Do you still not have faith in me? — what would you say?”

I would answer this: I have faith that you are my savior. I have faith that you are the Son of God, that you came to live and die on this earth. I have faith in the resurrection. I believe you are who you say you are. I believe in your word and your promises. But the thing is, you don’t promise me that there won’t be trouble in this life. In fact, you state the complete opposite. There will most definitely be trouble. I feel that I have been spared a lot of terrible things in my life. No one close to me has a terminal illness, and death isn’t a frequent visitor. I’m healthy, educated, and happily married. And yet, I see all the atrocities that believers suffer. And I know no one escapes trouble. My unborn son was taken from me. That was the most tragic thing I have suffered. And suffered, I did. I still do. That’s why I’m afraid. Because pain is painful. It hurts. And there is no escape, save dying and enjoying eternal life with Jesus. But if I’m not supposed to be afraid, then it would seem that I am missing the bigger picture. The knowledge of worldly pain doesn’t go away. There must be something that overshadows that pain and makes it seem trivial in the light of something bigger. That’s what I struggle with. I can’t come to grips with that bigger thing and let it properly overshadow my fears.

Then, the other day, I unexpectedly got my answer as to what that bigger thing is. (drumroll….)

Grace.

A Sunday School answer, right? Okay, but wait and hear me out. Maybe more to the point, God revealed something powerful about the nature of my fears.

This is the quote that got my gears turning: “There is no grace for your imagination.” Upon hearing that, my immediate response was to reject it. God’s grace is infinite and abundantly poured out, so how can we say it doesn’t touch one area of our lives, namely, our imaginations? In the minutes following as the speaker further clarified her meaning, I saw the truth of it. From the time I was little, I would imagine terrible things happening to me or to the people I loved. I would wonder if my mom would die, and if she did, how would I respond? How would my life be changed? How heavy would that grief feel? I can come up with wild scenarios for how tragedy could touch my life, and it doesn’t take too much creativity, given that I hear about people around the globe suffering in so many ways. There is no grace for these imagined scenarios because I don’t need grace for them. They’re not real! When trouble does come my way, God’s grace will be sufficient for whatever I may face. I believe that because He tells us it’s true (2 Corinthians 12:9). I’m still battling my fears, and I’d be naive to think that I no longer have to keep my guard up against letting them creep in and control my thoughts, but this idea gives me so much freedom and a wonderful lightness. I believe with every fiber of my being that God will always provide for me and give me the grace I need, moment to moment, therefore I can let go of my fear and worry for things that I’ve only imagined. Praise God!

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All Part of the Journey…

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It’s easy to be thankful for some things. Friends, family, and blessings. But what about the everyday, very ordinary things? Dear Husband and I are so excited (and yes, admittedly, a bit nervous) about moving to Abu Dhabi. When presented with the opportunity, we pictured adventures on camel back, trekking across sand dunes, and visiting the tallest building in the world. We’re still excited about those things, but life doesn’t look so glamorous right now!

IMG_0482Yes, that’s a snow shovel prying it’s way into our front seat as we drive a carload of boxes to our storage unit. The past month of planning and organizing for our move has presented us with unique challenges. At times I’ve felt frustrated and overwhelmed, counting the days until our big adventure begins. And then I realized – this is part of the journey! Rather than wishing away these days, eager to start life in UAE, I’m slowing down (at least mentally) to be thankful for what’s going on here and now.

I’ve learned a good deal about what it takes to move overseas, but more importantly, I’m learning how to be content in the midst of chaos – be thankful! I’m thankful that I have a hard-working husband who I can depend on and trust. I’m thankful for the outpouring of well-wishes, encouragement, and prayers from our friends, families, co-workers, and church. I’m most thankful that God is watching over us throughout this whole process and goes before us. We still have several weeks left until Dear Husband leaves for Abu Dhabi, and I’m constantly reminding myself to treasure these last days in our first apartment together. I’m sure that before I know it, we’ll be waking up in our new home!

Better Than a Salami Sandwich

Dear Husband sent this graph to me yesterday at work. To make sense of it, you would need to know that he calls me Bee, and I call him Beebs. He claims that he is “clingy-er” than I am, which you should read as “more affectionate”. I of course protest and attempt to bring evidence against such a claim. Here it is though, data to prove it. I laughed out loud in my empty office when I saw it.

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What I love about this is that he sent it knowing he would make me smile. He does a lot of things like that, just to make me happy. Before I was married, and still now, I think about what makes a good husband or a good wife. I look to the Bible to find that definition.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  Ephesians 5:22-23

I read those words and I clearly see my Dear Husband’s obedience to Christ. How? Because he is driven by a motivation to seek my well-being, to push me to Jesus, and to place me above all things in his life, save for God. He will forgo comfort and triumph in an argument for the sake of communication and harmony with me.

When I was single, I listened attentively to Paul’s words when he said it is better not to marry (1 Corinthians 7:8-10), and I still would advocate that single people strongly consider this before assuming that the marriage covenant is truly something they should enter. I say that as a precursor to what I say next – that I am hugely blessed by my marriage because I do see a clearer picture of Jesus in my life. I have an example of Christ before me each day in the form of a husband that will forgive me my faults without limit, will bear my burdens, and will love me, encourage me, and stand with me in all things.

Because of this, he makes my job as a wife that much easier. I look to him as head of our family of two, and I know I can trust his judgments, decisions, and motivations. When I married, I put my faith in God that He would lead and guide me through my husband. I can’t pretend that all this is easy or comes naturally, and I would also be wrong to say that we can maintain a healthy marriage by sheer will. We daily depend on Jesus for grace and wisdom to be the husband and wife He has called us to be.

I share this because I want to recognize the lengths to which Dear Husband goes to take care of me, and I hope it gives encouragement to anyone struggling with the roles of husband and wife. Dear Husband once told me that being married is like holding hands for a little while on earth until we’re called to our heavenly home. And let me tell you, I’d much rather be holding hands with Dear Husband than with a salami sandwich.