it began with a heart-wrenching conversation in the park. (of course it began much sooner, when in the course of working together in a dream job of our own making, i began to resent my husband. i began hating (and no, that’s not too harsh for truth) this very person in the tiniest of ways, as he served alongside me in a job that may not have been best suited for him. regardless, i reacted in fear and in desire to control, to make him do it my way. i fought him and God and my own self because i didn’t trust God’s timing or His provision. so over time walls of stone began to build in my heart and then, i think, in the heart of the man i married. thank God, He brought friends and family with courage to see and speak what they saw, and brokenness began – necessary, life-changing brokenness. but not before some of those wall-stones were thrown right at the one I’d promised to cherish, to respect, to serve. not before there were heart-breaks that caused hidden uproar in our home. it came to a head one afternoon when there was shouting and anger over the phone. we hung up and made plans to meet outdoors, and to talk for real about what was happening. to begin, i would learn, a bit of fearless living.
we left the children in good care and we met like a couple on a blind date, both nervous to see each other. but for us, the reasons were different. though I think we both wondered if the other felt the same about us, it was because there were hurts, deep hurts, that seemed to cover the years of love invested in the “us” that God had formed 18 years back.
we sat across from each other at a picnic table, ignoring the sweltering heat. we didn’t touch – there was too much tension for that. we were each angry, though I only focused on my own feelings to start. i admit, I didn’t begin from a place of humility. i began from a place of “ME.” i told him, “i’m not going to do this anymore. i am tired of fighting. i am tired of operating in fear. i’m tired of taking more and more work because I’m afraid if i don’t, we won’t have enough money to make it.” i went on for what must have, to him, seemed like hours.
over the course of that picnic-bench conversation, love began to glaze over the broken places, and fill the sharp edges of mine and my husband’s conversation. although our level of surety of our next steps didn’t match, we agreed that we needed to make drastic changes in our current patterns and direction, in order to find healing and God’s next steps for us as a couple and as a family. and for me, that day, began what i suspect may be a lifelong journey, discovering much about fear and blessing, and the Great Adventure to which our Papa is inviting us.
over the next few weeks, i’d like to share with you some thoughts on living fearlessly. the following comes from a talk i gave recently to a group of ladies in our hometown, focusing on the journey i’ve been on the last year. the word i claimed over my year for 2014 was undaunted, and this is the story of some truths i believe my Papa taught me through one little part of journey through the shadowlands.
the first thought i want to share is that:
when we operate based on fear, we miss blessing.
beginning on that bench, the Lord revealed to me that much of my action was directly driven by fear. i was afraid of so many things, and i acted passionately to try to prevent those fears from coming true. on the outside, i was running a successful photography business, educating and raising five kids with active interests and lively schedules, and doing it all alongside my husband – people told me often I was so lucky!!
but on the inside, I became more and more driven to provide for my family and to “succeed,” and I wasn’t even sure what that looked like.
during this season, i began reading a book called Start, by John Acuff. he asked readers to list out our greatest fears – the ones that paralyze us. I wrote the following:
my greatest fears: that I’m trapped in our current circumstances. that I don’t have the self-control to change, or that our family doesn’t “deserve” to change. that I am bound by my husband’s insecurities. that my kids make it impossible for me to “advance” in life. that someone else is always a step ahead of me; someone else has already “done” my dream.
i realized that in my fear of these things, i was hardening my heart to both my husband and kids, and ultimately to God, as i fought to “protect” myself. (AS IF i actually could on my own!)
i wonder if you ever feel that way. do you ever feel like you are stuck because of your husband’s weaknesses? that your kids are the “weight” that holds you back from “true success?” take a moment and on a scrap of paper, i dare you to be really bold: write down one or two of your greatest fears. imagine what is the worst happening you run from in your own striving to “fix” things.
Phil Vischer was a man who struggled with this same tendency. you may have heard of him: he co-founded a company called Veggie Tales, which made a huge splash in both the Christian and secular community, and then went belly-up. he said this:
“We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.”
as i thought through the acuff challenge, i wrote this of my fears, and then the corresponding truths to counter them:
that i’m trapped in our current circumstances. – my children are a BLESSING. and that blessing is TEMPORARY. (be careful about wishing it away, little one!)
that i don’t have the self-control to change, or that our family doesn’t “deserve” to change. – i am a DAUGHTER OF THE KING! HE SAYS I AM WORTH IT – i have been granted his VERY BEST.
that i am bound by my husband’s insecurities. – God can break through BOTH of our insecurities to make us a great team for HIS GLORY! (and by the way, who am I to talk of someone else’s insecurities?)
that my kids make it impossible for me to “advance” in life. – LIAR!! My kids are amazing – maybe my greatest “asset” in life! (there is NO CAREER that is worth pursuing if it does not directly benefit not merely their earthly comforts, but their very hearts and souls.)
that someone else is always a step ahead of me; someone else has already “done” my dream. – There is nothing new under the sun. (Someone else’s walking a road before me) is not a handicap! God has given ME a unique voice for whatever He calls me to!
in my fighting my fears, i also made a shocking discovery: i was making my husband my enemy. just like a drunken sailor on an imaginary ship, i was wielding my sword at my own shipmate.
there’s a biblical principle here, and I know for most of us, it’s a familiar one. Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” the Greek word “haras” used here for “tear down” means to overthrow, to shatter, and to destroy.
oh, Papa, i am determined not to tear down, but to build up. i long to be part of creating something beautiful in partnership with You and Yours.
do you have a story of challenge, of calling, and of grappling to understand Truth as it is walked out in everyday life? i would love to hear and share it. please drop me a line below.
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