Young teenagers sitting around a campfire. A boy who claimed he was afraid of nothing. So his peers told him to place his hand in a box if he was so fearless. But he was unable, too afraid. When he finally admitted that he couldn’t do it, he asked what was in it. “Exactly what you’re afraid of… nothing”. The boy was humbled.
I remember watching that on television when I was really young and I have never forgotten the scene. When asked what I am afraid of, I could tell you a laundry list of things. Fears that drive my choices and worry me. Fears that keep me up at night. For whatever the reason, my “biggest fear” has always been snakes. Just the word itself scares me. I hate them with full passion because I am afraid of them.
As I have become more and more introspective of my own life, I have learned something that I am afraid of much, much more. It is the driving force of who I am as a person and an explanation of many of the times I have not walked in what God has wanted me to do.
I am afraid to mess everything up.
I am afraid that I will destroy my life. I am afraid of losing the people I love because of my own actions.
If my close friends were to leave me for their own choices, it would be hard. But if it were something that I could have done differently or something I did that caused them to leave – it would be incredibly difficult to forgive myself over. There is something different about things that I can “control”.
So perhaps it is a curse that I often speak without thinking, feel without understanding and jump without looking. I think back to key moments where “I” destroyed friendships. There was rarely drama that went with that friendship at the end… just a few words spoken by me and none spoken by them as they began to push me away.
I am terrified that people are going to push me away. That i am not special to anyone. I am afraid that no one really loves me. And that those who love me will stop loving me.
It haunts itself into every aspect of who I am as a person. It changes my extroverted nature to become fearful and hide away into anxiety and fears of who I am. I do not want to hurt anyone – not because it is mean but honestly because I don’t want people to change their mind about me. This is shameful to admit, honestly. But I have promised transparency and openness so here it is.
The life that I have lived is full of people changing their minds about me. One day they love me but then I am told that I messed that up. They may still love me, they say, but they don’t like me much anymore. Or even that they stop loving me. “You aren’t who you used to be. I miss who you used to be. I don’t like you now”.
There are times where I have done things I regret because of my willingness to make things up to people for hurting them. Or I will let someone manipulate me because “I deserve this” as an atonement of my mistakes. “How can I make it up to you? Tell me what I can do and I’ll do it” constantly follows my apologizes. I was always – I am always – so focused on the short-term in friendships.
That being said, I am hardly a loving person. My friends may call me quick-tempered or easily distracted. The words “I love you” are scary to say out loud, face to face. I seem to be full of a self-destruction pattern that I cannot rid myself of.
And yet people still love me.
But, my fears back too quickly, what if people love me because of who I am? Or something that I have done? Then I could lose their love. There are few people who I am certain love me ONLY and ONLY because of a choice to love me. People who have stuck with me when I bring no benefit to them whatsoever and have helped me when I have tried to hurt them. But even these people I am afraid to lose. I wonder if I am on a last leg with them and it will only be a matter of time before I lose them.
I live in the valley of fear. It overtakes me. I see no light.
I know that there is light. The head knowledge is there. I know God has a way out. I know that following Him takes me there. But I am so paralyzed by my own fear that I cannot see it or place my confidence fully upon it. I think only that I will walk outside His will and lose everything I love. That my path is narrow - so narrow that one misstep will cause me to fall down a mountaintop.
I do not understand what it means to walk in peace at all times. Or to know the love of others. Or to fully grasp the love of God. Every single day is a battle. It is not one that I have overcome.
That being said: There is a solution. Oh God, oh God. I cry out to you. Be the one that saves me.
What are you afraid of? Or what have you overcome with God?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.” – Psalm 91:1-7