I’ve sometimes thought it would be good to choose a meaningful word for the year. It seems better than making New Year’s resolutions because they usually get broken within days, if not hours, of making them. But a word should inspire and spur me on. Hopefully.
So, my word for 2014 is: FAITH.
All of my life, I’ve been shackled by fear – fear of what people think of me, fear of being rejected, fear of being attacked, fear of losing the people closest to me, fear of spiders…. to name but a few. I hadn’t realised until last summer how fearful I was, nor of how much I’d lied to myself in order to try and hide it. I didn’t know how to deal with fear, so I pushed it down deep inside, and put on an act. I did this so well that I even had myself fooled…. some of the time anyway.
Thank God He had no intention of leaving me that way. During prayer counselling last year, my fear came up time and again. As we began praying into it, small changes became evident.
Suddenly, I was comfortable going for walks in the woods and local park without constantly being afraid of someone attacking me. It sounds crazy to a rational mind, but fear often isn’t rational, and I hadn’t walked in the woods nearby since I was a teenager accompanied by the family dog, Ben. It was liberating. I felt like I could breathe. It was great.
Another change (small to anyone else, huge to me) was that I lost my fear of spiders. Ever since a hideous spider-infested holiday when I was thirteen, I’ve had a spider phobia. It got so bad in my early twenties that my family doctor arranged counselling after I almost crashed my car in panic because of a money spider dangling from the rear-view mirror. That improved things, but didn’t take away the fear. If Adrian wasn’t around to deal with an eight-legged monster in the house (anything bigger than a few millimetres was huge in my eyes), I’d put my faithful Henry vacuum on the highest suction setting, stand as far away as possible, stop breathing, and point the nozzle with sweating palms while gasping out a panicky prayer for help. But suddenly, they were just annoying insects with which I could deal without thinking about it – even the larger ones that appear in the autumn.
While thanking God for these small yet significant changes He has made in my life, I am aware that there’s a long way to go until I’m completely free of unhealthy fear. I’ve also realised that there are layers. When one layer is dealt with, there’s a lull and then God’s Spirit starts nudging me about facing the next, deeper layer.
Through all of this, I’ve been understanding in a more experiential and real way that God is my Father. Yes, Jesus’ Dad has adopted me. He chose me before He created the world. For no other reason than that He loved me and wanted me to be part of His family so that He could show me how generous and loving and glorious and wonderful He is. (And this can be real for you as well as for me!) Jesus the Son has made it possible for His Dad to adopt me by living a perfect life, dying and coming back to life. Through His death and resurrection, I can know peace with God and the peace of God, as well as hope, joy, love, security.
Beginning to understand how precious I am to God and having His Holy Spirit constantly reminding me and showing me that I am God’s adopted daughter, has lessened the hold that fear had on me. Why should I be afraid of anyone rejecting me when I know that God has completely accepted me and enjoys my company? Why should I be fearful of what people think of me when I know that God sees me as His treasure, His royal daughter?
Like I said, I still have a long way to go before I’m completely free. But God is committed to setting me free and I have faith in Him that He will finish what He has begun. Faith is the antidote to fear. Faith in this wonderful, loving God who is revealing more of Himself to me, giving me a security I never knew existed. It would be an insult not to have faith in Him, and my heart’s desire is for my faith in Him to grow until I overflow, not with fear but, with thankfulness.
PS I’ll let you into a secret: I was paralysed with fear at the thought of writing this post. I knew I had to write it and got as far as switching on my laptop, but then procrastinated by checking Facebook, Twitter, email, making a cup of tea…. You get the idea. But since faith is my word for 2014, I determined to face fear head-on and go for it!
Happy New Year!