Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fear and Trembling (sans Kierkegaard)

Oh, no. I'm about to end a sentence with a preposition, which I hate to do, but it has to be done:

What are you afraid of?

Me, I seem to be afraid of a lot of things. Misplaced prepositions, for one. Kidding! I think the biggest problem with my fears is that I can't tell if they are irrational or not. I have a fear of wrongful imprisonment, which is a little irrational. I just think I watched The Hurricane one too many times in college. I have a fear of someone breaking into my house. That's probably not irrational. It's something that happens fairly frequently, and it may have been borne out of my desire to protect my family. In that vein, I also fear things happening to my husband and son which is—rational?

See, I have a hard time making the distinction. Part of me thinks that the quantity of worrying associated with a particular fear directly relates to how rational it is. The more I worry, the less rational the fear becomes. Does the likelihood of a fear materializing increase its rationality? 

These are the things I ponder.

I wonder how much of my brain power is sucked away by worrying and fear. Sometimes I lie awake thinking of all the horrible things that could happen at just that moment, and I desperately try to think of Buffy-esque moves to fend off burglars or would-be assassins. Really.

The only thing that can get me out of the worrying mode is Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Which follows my other favorite verse(s), Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Worrying and fear are not noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, or praiseworthy. Clearly, I should not be worrying or fearing. And the other verse tells me specifically not to be anxious about anything. Not. A. Single. Thing. 

So why do I have so many fears? Why do I worry?

Oh, this human brain! I really don't understand it. I think, "Surely, God will protect me from nasty things." But sometimes stuff happens. Christians get mugged or beaten or murdered or in car accidents just as much as other folks do. God lets those things happen sometimes. I can't understand it. I guess I don't really want to. I'll leave that to him.

What I do know is that a lot of God Stuff happens on the other side of that awful stuff. God can use those circumstances for good, even if they're horrible. He has an amazing talent for changing people for the better or making miracles happen just on the other shore of a sea of troubles. I know he does that. But how do I feel better on this shore? How do I put the fear aside now and not have to wait for hindsight to kick in?

Trust. Lots and lots of trust. I have to admit my humanness one more time and 'fess up that this little brain has control issues. I don't like surprises. I want to know what's around every bend. But the fact is, I'm not going to know. I have to trust that God knows and that he's taking care of things. My job is to live my little human life the best I can and let God be God. Really, he's the only thing we're supposed to fear. And it's a good fear. A healthy respect sort of fear. A think-about-more-than-this-life kind of fear. 

A rational fear.


  1. Rachel,
    Oh my goodness ... LOVED this post. You are a wonderful writer. I could so relate to this. In fact, at She Speaks, one of the talks I gave (to be evaluated) was on fear and I talked about my many irrational fears! You are speaking my language. I have lots to fear right now, but I am trying to do what you said -- trust God in the midst of my troubles. Know that He is faithful even when I don't understand a cotton pickin' thing He's doing. ;0)

    Thanks for sharing this. I'm a follower now.

  2. Going through the adoption process, I gave up my worry, and I was a first-class worrier (ask Laura!).

    But now I fear...fear that something bad will happen to Keith and Little man...fear that our house will burn down...fear that something will happen to me and my boys will be all alone. It is SUCH a different paradigm than worry. But God is working on it. On me.

    However, hearing that I'm not the only one to have such fears is comforting :)


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