Fighting Fear with Fear

My list of fears runs long and deep: I have chronic nightmares of snakes and would be okay with their immediate extinction. I have an extremely clear memory of being a 4-year-old at Disney Land and having to be carried to the car by my mom because the fireworks ignited a crying/screaming fit (this would still be the case if my mom could still carry me and if I wanted to spend the 4th of July alone). I can’t be in an enclosed space with no windows by myself because I think I’ll get locked in (elevators are my arch-nemesis). And do not even get me started on sleep paralysis, car accidents, and getting lost.

Although these are a wide range of strange and seemingly unrelated fears, they all have the same effect on me: a fast-beating heart, teary eyes, sweaty palms, and weak knees combined with feeling debilitated, crippled, and overwhelmed. And recently, I have been experiencing all these things because I am scared. However, not because of snakes or enclosed spaces, or fireworks. But because I’m leaving.

This is my last week here in Fort Worth as I will be moving back home to Atlanta to pursue my Master of Divinity at Emory University. And as excited as I am to go back home to the best city in the entire universe, to be able to drive 30 minutes to my mom’s house when I need a hug from her instead of waiting for 5 months, and to go to my dream seminary and to get my dream degree that God has been preparing my heart for longer than I ever realized, I’m scared. I’m scared I’ll go back home and the moonlight in Atlanta won’t be as beautiful as I remember it. I’m scared my community in Atlanta has changed too much and reconnection isn’t plausible. I’m scared that ministry isn’t actually my call and I’ll feel lost in seminary. I’m scared that I’ll wish I had stayed in Fort Worth. I’m scared to leave.

This fear I’m experiencing is real and it’s not going away. Just like how snakes aren’t going to disappear from the earth, fireworks aren’t going to stop being used on holidays, and I won’t be able to avoid going into elevators by myself forever, these things that terrify me aren’t going away. However, they don’t have to. They don’t have to go away so that I can keep moving forward and keep walking in my purpose on this earth without being crippled, paralyzed, or debilitated on my way. Because there is a different type of fear that renders the power of these fears over me insignificant. The type of fear that ignites us, fights for us and drives us forward. This type of fear is nothing like the one that makes us either punch the bear or run from it.

This fear is the fear of God.

This fear is the type of fear that the bible says we should have for God where we hold God in awe or reverence. In other words, to fear God is to be in awe of God. This fear is to hold God’s holiness, divinity, majesty, glory, and power in such reverence that we are speechless. This fear of God changes everything because to be in awe of God, is to know God. It is to understand that our God is a God who has promised each and every single one of us an assured goodness. A God whose love for us is absolutely unstoppable and, therefore, makes us invincible. A God who can move the mountains, defy the cosmos, and shine light in the deepest crevices of the darkest evils and still is so intentional with God’s love for God’s children that God chooses to be Abba to each of us.

This understanding of God gives us the courage to step out in boldness and propels us forward. Holding God in such reverence and believing in the loving kindness of God makes us brave. It emboldens us, strengthens us, empowers us, and gives us the ability to walk with assured footing with our chin high and chest out no matter what is before us and no matter what is to come.

I’m sad to go. I’m sad to leave Kat and Matt who have mentored me and have been two of the most cherished, fruitful, and beautiful relationships I have ever had. I’m sad to leave Brenda who was the office mother-figure we all needed all the time. I’m sad to leave the middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adult volunteers who have blessed me and brought so much treasure to my life. I’m sad to go, I’m scared to leave, and I’m frightened about what the next 3 years will bring. AND, I will hold the Lord our God in such reverence and in such awe, that I will not be rendered unable to follow the path God has set out for me. I will walk forward and let the Divine lead as the Father shines a light before me, the Holy Spirit shines a light within me, and the Son shines a light beside me in eternal companionship.

My prayer for you is that no matter what circumstances you faced yesterday, are facing today, and will face tomorrow, that you will let the fear of God dictate your footing, propel you forward, and ignite a brave hope within you. From Atlanta, I will keep my eyes fixed on the Divine. Do it with me, FUMCFW.

All my love,

Gabby

 

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