Over the course of my lifetime, I have listened to hundreds of sermons. Let's say one per week for forty years - that would be over 2000. That number does not include messages I listen to on my own time, which could be an additional 1 to 5 per week. That's a stinkin' lot of sermons!
Of those thousands of messages, today's message elicited a response that I have never said after a sermon before...
The non-autocorrected version of "shirt" - that's what I said. Hopefully, I didn't say it loud enough for those around me to hear (suddenly I am grateful for social distancing :D )
Today's message was from 1 Peter 5 and it was about pride and fear. I sometimes struggle with the pride side, but I constantly struggle with the fear side. Here are a few statements that caused my reaction:
- Fear says, "God can't do this."
- Fear underestimates God's grace and strength.
- How sober-minded am I when I am filled with fear?
- If I have pride or fear, I am not firm in the faith.
I was deep in processing and emotion when the service ended, so I didn't stick around to chat. I got in my car and started talking my thoughts out loud. There were tears, sadness, and quiet pondering.
I struggle with fear every single day - fear of so many things. One of my biggest fears is my own emotions. I don't trust friends or family with my emotions, or God with my emotions, or even myself with my emotions. I have had my feelings trampled on and stifled so many times over my life that I no longer share them. I am just starting to acknowledge them to myself.
The fear of expressing my emotions is what really made me leave right after the service today. When my feelings begin to heighten, I walk away. I stuff them. I have fear about how others will respond to my emotions.
For this reason, I keep people at arm's length. I don't allow myself to get emotionally close to others. This week, I allowed a good friend of mine to get a little bit close to me, and I spent the next few days pushing her away again.
According to 1 Peter 5, the antidote to fear is humility. I need to believe that God has placed His love and grace on me. God chose me - He called me for eternity. He is sanctifying me and I need to walk in obedience.
Obedience. Fear has held me back from obeying God. There are things that I know I need to be doing that I am not doing. I need to be writing my book series about my journey through domestic violence, but fear is holding me back. I need to be sharing things that God lays on my heart, but fear is holding me back. I need to trust people with my emotions so I can experience true community, but fear is holding me back. I need to believe that my opinion and thoughts are valid, but fear is holding me back. I need to believe that I matter, but fear is holding me back.
Fear is disobedience. Fear is paralyzing. Fear is untrusting.
It is terrifying to step out of fear.
I am afraid to step out of fear.