Tag: fear (page 1 of 4)

The Question Fear Asks

This weekend I had the privilege of preaching on Matthew 14:22-32 – the super familiar story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. I LOVE this story and I felt like God had so much to teach me as I prepared.

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One of the most important things I learned as I was studying the passage of Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee and sinking, was that it was about more than Peter’s faith. It was about Jesus’ greater grace.

Jesus reaches out when we’re sinking and lifts us up. 

This morning I was thinking about a related story I heard a million years ago about a little boy trapped in the bedroom of his home which was on fire.

He was at the window, the home swallowed up in flames, no way out.  Smoke everywhere.

Below, a fireman called up to him, “Jump son!  I’ll catch you!  I’m here!”

The little boy screamed “No!  I can’t SEE you!!!”

“I know,” yelled the fireman, “but I can see YOU!  Jump!”

Cheesy story?  Maybe.  But it makes me think about the question fear asks of God.

The underlying question in the little boy’s heart was the question that fear asks:

What if…?

What if you don’t see me?

What if you miss?

What if you’re not strong enough?

What if I get hurt?

What if I look silly?

Sometimes I can’t see God.  And I’m afraid to jump. (or step out of my boat)

 

What does Love ask of you today that’s scary?

To go someplace uncomfortable?  Talk to someone uncomfortable?  Serve in way that’s uncomfortable?

Quit a job, or stay in a job that’s hard?  Give something away?  Build a bridge, or shake the dust off your feet?

Are you afraid to jump?  I am.  And I’m thinking about the lyrics from this Nicole Nordeman song:

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

Jumping, or taking a step outside our boat of comfort. There are different things that God may use to prompt us.

Invitation to go on an advocacy trip with World Vision when that’s not “my thing” prompted me to step out this summer.

Frustration over the lack of sanitary equipment for girls in northern Uganda, causing them to miss school, prompted our daughter Maggie to step outside her “boat” and solve the problem.

Fear of the overwhelming emotions around returning to church after her husband died, prompted my sister-in-law to cling to Jesus and take the hard step back.

Loss of her beloved son Brett, who had Downs Syndrome, prompted my friend Nan to start ministries to kids with special needs.

What are you afraid of?

What might God be using to prompt you to jump, or step out, trusting Him? 

If we step out and sink, we can be assured that God’s grace is greater than our faith.

The Other “F Word”, part 2

Yesterday I re-posted on the F- word in our family. Today another one, and tomorrow one more – I’ll let you decide which you relate to most! 🙂

On reflection I think there’s more than one other f-word.  There may be a whole slew of others that lurk around like stealth ninjas ready to take us down.

So here’s number 2.  Fear.

I don’t think I’m a particularly fearful person.  But I might have slept in the car instead of with the bats in a mountain cabin once upon a time.  And Maggie and I might have told the producers of the Amazing Race that snakes were a no-go for us when we were auditioning.

I’ll admit I AM afraid of heights, failure, suffering, looking foolish in public, and dying in an airplane crash to name a few.  But so is everyone, right?IMG_0767

(John, not me, bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zambia)

If I’m honest, what I’m really afraid of is losing control.  At least the illusion of control.

Continue reading

For Days When you Feel Anxious, Scared, or Overwhelmed, Part 1

The winter stretches out before us here in Minnesota – long, gray, and frozen.

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The other day I stopped by to visit a young friend who’s in a dark time, a very wintery time.

She feels overwhelmed, and anxious, “not enough”, and scared.

Everything feels so hard and she’s tempted to look at all the sparkly, easy-breezy lives on Facebook and despair that she alone is struggling to adapt to a new season.

I know this feeling. I’ve been there.

It’s in these vulnerable times that I picture Satan chuckling with glee.

What are some of the lies the Enemy wants us to believe when life’s hard? Continue reading

How do we Live a Plan B Christmas?

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at a women’s event in the Chicago area. As I prepared, I felt prompted to speak on kind of a strange topic for Christmas: Fear.

AKA worry, anxiety, angst, hot messiness…

The shepherds, Mary, Joseph, Zechariah… To each of them an angel says, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t. be. afraid.”

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It’s the most often repeated command in the Bible so I’m thinking there must be a lot of people dealing with it, right?

Fear is a weird emotion to associate with Christmas, but as I reflect on the shepherds, Mary, Zechariah and Joseph, it isn’t “CHRISTMAS” they are experiencing; it’s just LIFE – their ordinary, everyday walking around life.

And they lose any illusion of control, any illusion of “life as we know it” the moment an angel shows up, right?!!

LIFE isn’t going according to their plans.

They are living a life interrupted.

They are forced to adapt to a Plan B life.

The Plan B life may not be as safe, or predictable, or comfortable, or boring as they’d like, because there are new circumstances. But more than that, there’s a new character in their story. The main character has arrived; the messiah cleverly disguised as a baby in the muck and mess of a manger.

How many of us are living our Plan A life? Really.

  • You thought you’d have your dream job by now and you don’t.
  • You thought you’d be pregnant and you’re not.
  • You thought you’d he’d live and but he died.
  • You thought you’d be married by now and you’re not.

Plan B. Life is not going as we thought. Or hoped. Or dreamed.

But the main character, a baby has entered our Plan B life to be with us; to redeem and restore and make the story come out right in the end. 

Aaaannnd…spoiler alert: Love wins.

But how do we get from the fear or anxiety that comes with Plan B to the joy promised to all of us? Continue reading

What to do With all the Big Feelings

I’ve shared before that the emotional trajectory of any given day (or hour) of my life can look a little like this.

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Even if this isn’t your norm, perhaps there has been a day or two…

It seems that lately, many people around me have been facing circumstances that have thrown them for a loop even if usually their emotional life looks more like a merry-go-round than a monster roller coaster. So what do you do with all the Big Feelings?

One of the things I love about Scripture is that it’s so authentic, that often I may be experiencing something or feeling an emotion and one of the Bible people seems to jump off the pages and say “Me too!”

The community of young married couples I shepherd has started a study of David. I’m thinking David might have been a roller coaster kind of guy – a musician, shepherd, warrior, leader, and writer… As part of our study, this week we have agreed to read a Psalm written by David every day, starting with Psalm 3.

I love the Psalms because I feel kind of like a voyeur, peaking over someone’s shoulder, reading their journal.  The Psalms are just so dang real!

The Psalms are FULL of All Of The Big Feelings.

Can you say drama???

But the great thing is that the Psalms model how to deal with that drama.

Religiosity may say stuff or deny – don’t admit the messy feelings.

Secularism may say emotion is god – it rules all.

But the Psalms give us a third way to deal with our emotions.  Continue reading

What are You Afraid Of?

This weekend I did something I didn’t want to do. I opened myself to something when I really wanted to remain safe, and closed. I did it because I thought it would be good for me, like eating Kale or going to Yoga class.  Healthy, but uncomfortable and not very palatable.

I put myself in an environment with a speaker whose theology I don’t always agree with. It was a situation where there would be questions and theories and ambiguity and nuance and I was afraid this person might speak for God in ways that wouldn’t make Him happy. More accurately, he might speak for God in ways that I wouldn’t.

My inclination is to run from controversy and fog like I’d run from an angry bear in the forest. But I want to be brave.

I’ve always preferred black and white to gray, the safe middle to the unknown edges when it comes to theology, and yet, I came out of seminary with more questions than I went in with, but also a bigger, safer, though more mysterious God.

Maybe I went in thinking I could study God like a scientist studies monkeys and learns to predict their movements.  But it was more like diving into the ocean with alternately crashing 10 foot high swells and then motionless becalmed water. The pull of the tide, and the dark, fathomless depths with sea caves and weird creatures.

So why, if I’ve felt secure enough to thrash in the sea with God, does my stomach clench when I’m in situations where someone might say something “wrong”, angry, or… gasp, even heretical? Continue reading

What we Bring to the Table

Awhile ago we hosted a dinner party and it felt like a slow motion train-wreck.  Honestly.  At one point we were afraid one of our guests was going to leap over the table and physically attack another guest.

And to think I was upset beforehand that I didn’t have an appropriate soup tureen and ladle.  The stuff we worry about!

I haven’t watched Game of Thrones or the Red Wedding episode, but from what I hear, after this dinner I really don’t have to.

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To say there was tension would be an understatement.

Husband John and I have done quite a bit of post-mortem analysis and have asked what we can learn from this.

As I think about what was brought to the table (besides soup), I realize there was tremendous fatigue.  It had been a very long weekend in the midst of a busy season for most of us.  When we’re tired we’re not at our best.

We also brought preconceptions, insecurities, and judgment to the table.

But Fear was the uninvited guest we hadn’t expected.  Continue reading

5 Questions to Ask When You’re “CRAZY Busy”

“We’ve just been so CRAZY busy!”

I have a friend whose emails contain this phrase along with profuse apologies about her perpetual stress level almost every single time she writes me.

Sometimes I want to shout at the computer “Well STOP DOING so much!”

Brene Brown says exhaustion is the new status symbol. If we don’t feel overwhelmed we must not be doing something important.  Are you buying into that?

I want to tell my crazy busy friend about my sister-in-law who realized that they had had so many people visiting their lake cabin over the past few years that none of their family was actually able to enjoy it.  They were always hosting someone else, so she called a moratorium for this one summer.  A time out.  To that I say “Bravo!”  It can be done.

But I also realize how hard it must be to think of disappointing friends who don’t have lake homes and who look forward to visiting every year.  Boundaries are not without their downside.  They take courage and resolve.

As I’ve been thinking about my friend and my sister-in-law, 5 Questions have come to mind that might be helpful to ask ourselves when we’re “CRAZY Busy”:

1.  How does this level of busyness affect the state of my soul? Really.  Am I at my best at these rpm’s?  How much does my busyness feed my false self – the part of me that needs to be validated by my achievements?

2.  Is this just a season (temporary), or is it an on-going pattern of over-extending myself?

3.  Why have I said “yes” to each of these commitments?  Which have I said “yes” to out of fear or a need to prove something?  Examine your commitments one by one.

4.  Do I have choices where I may have been making excuses? (Ex.: I have to work on the sr. high school party because I did it when our other child was a sr.)

5.  Who are the right people to disappoint?

I’d really love to just sit down and have a conversation with you about this over a DQ Blizzard because I’d like to hear your thoughts too.

What do you think?  Is there one person you feel like you need to be willing to disappoint in order to have a healthier rhythm of life?

Need a little more encouragement?  You are not a victim.  You own your choices. Learn from Bob Goff who tries to quit something every Thursday.photo-157

Participating in a link up with…

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Praying Aloud and Letters from Camp

I love Ellen Degeneres’ quote: “August is like the Sunday of summer.”  I agree!  I’m going to be traveling the next couple of weeks and taking a little Sabbath so I’ll be re-posting some favorite thoughts from the past. Let’s just call it “Throw Back End-of-August.”  Ok, maybe we won’t call it that because it’s super awkward.  Let me know if you can think of a different title. This post was from August of 2012.

Some (most??) people dread praying aloud as much as they dread getting on a scale the day after Thanksgiving.

When it comes time for closing prayer in your small group do you hyper-ventilate?  Suddenly decide you need to go to the bathroom?  Get a case of laryngitis?

Me?  Like it or not, I’ve been doing it for a long time.  Occupational hazard.

So I’ve gotten at least fairly ok at the “lifting ups” and the “if it’s your wills” and Bibley words like “grace and mercy”.

My out loud prayers are kind of like business letters all proper and punctuated, politically correct and polite.

But my real prayers?  They sound more like David’s prayers of desperation than Mary’s Magnificat. Continue reading

4 Things to do When You’re Afraid of Snakes or Technology or…

Last year my One Word was Fearless.  Even if it wasn’t your “word”, it clearly struck a cord with many of you.

I’d really like to say, “Fear shmear!  Puh-lease!  We’ve dealt with you and we’re so done!  Shaking the fear dust off our feet!  Moving on!”

Unfortunately, like bad hair days and weeds, it can keep showing up.  What’s a current fear of yours?   Is it a risk in business?  A parenting decision?  A move or change? 

Recently as daughter Maggie was getting ready to head to northern Uganda she was researching snakes – a phobia we both share.

She texted me asking if I thought mace would deter a Black Mamba.  I said I thought it might just make him angrier.  Her husband, Austin did research and assured her that she’d have 20 minutes to find an antidote (in the middle of nowhere) before she died.  And then this:IMG_7102

So, she’s got that advice in her hip pocket.

But a fear of mine, not as dramatic as snakes, has been plaguing me recently – fear of technology.

Laura to technology is like the Cubs to baseball.  #Fail.  And I HATE making mistakes!

Recently it was creating and trying to figure out how to embed a survey that loomed large.  Now on the other side of it, I am trying to reflect on what I’m learning about facing fears, especially when I feel inadequate.  Here are a few of my learnings.  I’d love to hear yours!

1.  Study.  Like Maggie googling snakes in Africa, the more I can learn about something the better off I’ll be.  Frankly that’s a pain with technology because I’d prefer to have someone sit down and show me, but instead I had to google tutorials.  Still, it paid off.  Knowledge is power.  Or a tiny bit of courage.

2.  Ask, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”  For me the worst that could happen did.  A wrong button was hit and those of you who subscribe received an empty post.  How humiliating!  (Again, I HATE appearing incompetent).  But was it as catastrophic as the apocalypse? No.  You guys are a forgiving lot and I dusted myself off and tried again.

3. Identify the benefits of failure.   Often the fear is worse than the thing itself.  There can be huge growth, relief, and pride on the other side of walking through our fears, even if temporary failure is part of the deal.

I don’t just fear technology, I basically hate it.  It’s detail-y and scienc-y and science is close to math and we all know I don’t do math, so it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to MAKE myself do any projects involving technology.  But that discipline pays off in learning new skills, and diminished fear for the future.

4.  Pray.  (You figure I had to put that one in, eh?).  Honestly my prayers regarding my fears are usually an inarticulate “Helpmehelpmehelpme!”.  I’m learning I’m better off if I pray scripture – either paying attention and praying for the character qualities of those in the Bible who face their fears – like Daniel, Joseph, and Nehemiah, or claiming God’s promises of His presence and guidance.

So, what’s a current fear of yours?  What are you learning?  

 

 

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