Fear has been your idol for as long as you can remember. I know that doesn’t really make sense. And it may not for a while. You may have never heard anyone refer to it that way before. Usually when you think of fear, your mind conjures up some Odyssey, and with that the romanticized idea of conquering it, of overcoming. Certainly not worshipping it. It sounds weird for a human emotion (and one of such seemingly irrational influence) to be categorized as a spiritual weight, but that is exactly what it becomes when it discourages you from speaking truth from your lips.
My anxiety became a qualification for excuses in my relationship with God, some ill-conceived justification for my lack of boldness in faith. If you’re anything like me, you feel relieved to have an answer for your reservations about sharing testimony or engaging in honest spiritual discussion. Relieved to rationalize the fear that keeps your lips shut in prayer groups, in small-group and life group, in missions. But there should never be relief regarding an option to not share the Gospel, to not invite others to celebrate or pray about how He is working in your life. This worry, this mental disorder, is no qualification for timid faith wrapped in comfort and stability.
I am not here to criticize, condemn, or convict. I would be pointing too many dirty fingers my way, too. I am only here to promise you that all the discomfort this world brings could not drive a single wedge between the comfort of God’s presence.
You crave comfort. You desire affirmation and unanimous approval from the world for every decision made, each step taken. Your hide your identity so deeply in people’s prejudices, you stop seeking the most perfect Creator to continuously mold you in His image. That’s the problem. This convenience and luxury, all the amenities you thrive on, are of this world. And we know so very well our walk with God is not some casual stroll through the park on a clearly-defined cement path where the sun is shining—but not too hot because we don’t want to break a sweat—and the breeze is blowing to where the temperature perfectly rests between 67-73 degrees because we like it that way. He promised us none of that. So why do we feel we deserve any of that? Our fear is selfish because it feeds off of our need to feel comfortable. To not be persecuted in a faith where that is what is expected.
So, to all of my dear brothers and sisters of Christ who struggle with anxiety, who look at verses such as 1 Peter 5:7 (Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you) and think, yeah I know but…easier said than done, or Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight) and are overwhelmed or frightened in relinquishing so much control, I have some comfort for you. It’s a comfort based upon promises of discomfort. And that may sound really strange and paradoxical. It may not read in a reassuring light at first, but this, my friends, is what God has called us to:
You weren’t called to be loved by everyone.
You weren’t called to place societal standards over the heart and knowledge of our Savior.
You weren’t called to find your identity in worldly things, in other people, in your talents—the only identification that holds any value both in this world (though you may not realize it at times) and in the next is that you are a child of God.
You don’t have to align with the 21st century Christian stereotype to be a Christian.
People will still accept you and love you when you proclaim to be different from this.
Perfection is so incredibly unattainable. (I know this seems redundant and overemphasized, but it can’t be if people are still chasing this. Take this to heart.)
Sometimes you may not know what you are being called to in terms of your profession and that’s OK.
Knowing what you’ve wanted to do with your life since the age of 5 is OK, too.
If you place too much value in what profession to seek or job to take, you may lose your heart’s attention and affections in those things. If you are to lose your heart anywhere, let it be in God.
The Lord will work through the paths you choose to take in college, in your profession, in life.
Your faith is not founded upon definite answers; questions and doubts are OK to voice. But doubt your doubts. Find the larger, beautiful answers that you can cling to in those times of uncertainty.
Sitting and listening to a friend instead of getting that extra hour of study in before a big test is so much more precious to you, your friend and God. I promise.
You can’t captain the ship of your life. The fog of life and self-reliance will only allow you to see so far ahead. (Insert Titanic joke here.)
I promise your prayers don’t have to be some syntactical utopian realm; just pour your heart out. God asks for honesty, not intricacy.
No one will hate you for having or expressing an opinion or for interpreting a piece of scripture differently. Consensus is the lack of honest discussion, which does not encourage growth, understanding, or loving tolerance.
The things you’re most afraid of sharing are probably the most important to be shared/heard.
Sharing your heart’s afflictions with those around you does not make you a burden.
Sharing your heart’s rejoicings with those around you does not make you vain. Happiness should never demand apology.
God does know all; you can’t hide even the deepest parts of you.
But God sees the depths of your heart and He loves you the same.