Living in Fear

I wrote this blog nearly a year ago.  I didn’t publish this because I was afraid of the response…of being seen differently, which, after you read it, you will find completely ironic.  However, today when I opened my blog page, I noticed the draft sitting in a separate folder.  Tonight, I reread it, and I finally decided to publish it.  I’m sorry this does not come with photos.  I will also caveat this blog post by saying that I come from a Christian faith-base.  My intent, however, is never to force my faith on anyone else.  So, please see it only as personal testimony.

Here it goes…

February 17, 2019 – The other week, I awoke and every muscle in my body was tight.  My jaw, eyes, and neck hurt the most.  I felt exhausted from the top of my head down.  I knew it was caused by anxiety.  My anxiety occasionally resurfaces at various points throughout the year.

So, instead of starting my day off as I usually do – off to the races – I slowed my morning down, and I chose to take some time to meditate and acknowledge what was going on.  At first, I thought maybe it was a resurfacing of guilt.  Guilt for decisions I’ve made in the past.  But the longer I sat still and breathed, I could tell that wasn’t it.  As I reflected on my past mistakes, my initial emotion was actually gratitude.  I was grateful for the experience, knowing each one helped direct my life in a better, more positive direction.  I wasn’t feeling guilt.

But then I found it.  Fear.  I was gripped by fear.  Even though I was personally grateful for the life lessons I have learned along the way, I was terrified by the thought that if people ever became aware of all the foolish choices I have made, they wouldn’t admire me as much.  My image – that I have never wanted to be in the limelight anyway – would be tarnished.  People love gossip.  And even though I am headed down the right path today, all the good I choose to do in the present will never make up for those mistakes.

What if a movie of our lives was played in front of our closest friends, coworkers, and loved ones?  What if all our thoughts and actions done in secret were exposed?  The thought of my poor choices being laid out in front of everyone to be judged and criticized…the thought was literally more than I could bear.  Anything less than perfection has always felt like a failure.  Because, as we all know, we must be perfect to be loved, right?

So the other morning I just sat there, and in the quiet, I asked God, “What do I do? What do you want me to do?” And with eyes shut, I saw only darkness.  But I kept repeating the questions, and after a few moments of nothing by darkness, I saw through my closed eyes His face.  He just looked at me, the same way my loving mother looks at me when we sit at the table and drink morning coffee together.  He reached out his hands and cupped them around my face.  He let me lean on Him.  He wouldn’t respond to my questions.  Every time I lifted my head and asked him what I should do, he would just look at me with His soft eyes.  He never spoke, and yet, somehow I understood.  He was telling me that He was with me and that I needed to return to Him every time I felt this unhealthy fear.  For I could come to Him and be seen.  Just as I am.  Just come to Him.  Be held by Him.  Be loved by Him.  Perfection was not a requirement.

And so here it is, all the love I pour out today on others is not meant to make up for past wrongs.  They are an outpour of knowing persistent love.  When I look to Christ, I find that love is a never-ending source.  And this awareness brings me peace.

Worldly standards, such as perfection, continuously extend beyond my reach.  Believe me when I say that the pursuit of perfection is not a path filled with grace.  It’s filled with mental assaults and heavy burdens of shame, disappointment, and despair.  It is a critical and harsh path.

It is only when I am able to let go of the fear that I am able to create space to be seen as I am, to be loved as I am, and to be at peace as I am.  And that is where pure love and peace can be found.

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