By Carolyn Grant …
I’m not really sure where to begin except to tell you that I’ve been dealing with a lot of fear lately. Fear that I’m not enough, fear of disappointing others, and fear that God won’t show up. Suffice it to say that in this season, all my fear buttons have been pushed. It’s made me want to live my life small. By that I mean minimize changes, do as little as possible, and control everything to feel safe. As you can imagine, this hasn’t gone well. Especially since in the last six months my husband has been out of a job, I’m over-committed in almost everything, and my kids are past that age where you can fool yourself in to believing you have control over them or anything.
Being the introspective person I am, I naturally questioned where this fear came from and had a few trusted friends pray in to this dark season with me. There were several revelations along the way, the most profound of them being the realization that I had internalized at some point in my childhood that I was a disappointment to my dad. As the second of only two girls, I heard the unspoken words behind the comments: “Well there goes your chance of a fishing buddy,” or “What are you going to do with a house full of girls?” I don’t remember my dad ever saying anything to me directly, but his overall inability to communicate with me left a silence that was interpreted, possibly incorrectly, by a very young me.
Looking back over the years, I recognized the ways I tried to earn love and perform my way in to being accepted. When I was not affirmed by my father, I looked for it in friends or success at work or in my role as a mother. It grew in to a need to please everybody, which I was mostly successful in doing. Except when I wasn’t. These times felt crushing as I failed to keep my vow of never disappointing anyone. This most recent case of falling short of others’ expectations sent me in to a spiral of shame, questioning the very core of who I believed myself to be. I found myself unloveable and God very disapproving and distant, both of which are contrary to His character and His word.
As I repented of this wrong belief and pressed in, I realized this WAS God’s love for me: taking me to a place where He could reveal how I was still relying on performance to earn love and acceptance. He revealed it in the song we sang at church recently – Reckless Love, by Cory Asbury. I think it was for my hard-hearted benefit that this song seemed to be on repeat several weeks in a row, because I am unfamiliar with this kind of love and really struggle to receive it. However, one Sunday morning something shifted within me as I heard for the umpteenth time: “Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me.”
Could God possibly have loved me BEFORE I had a chance to prove that I was loveable?
It was a fresh revelation to a deeper part of me just how much the Father loved me and how near He was, constantly pursuing me. That He always showed up, even when my earthly father didn’t. This led to the second revelation that quenched one of my greatest fears, just as you were wondering how any of this tied in to a blog post for Mother’s Day. If He showed up for me, could I also not trust Him to show up for and pursue the hearts of my daughters?
It takes courage and vulnerability to have faith. To trust God with something as precious as the hearts of your children. As a mother, there are many fears of not being enough, not doing it right, repeating the mistakes of your parents, or avoiding them so much you make your own. Thankfully we have God’s Word as given to us in Joshua 1:9: ”Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I’m not quite on the other side of this faith over fear journey, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes all it takes to face the fear is showing up. There are days, like yesterday, when my shield of faith is down, the darts of the enemy penetrate my defenses, and I feel crippled by anxiety. The girls had a rollerskating party to go to and I felt myself thinking, “Oh that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest – I would flee far away and stay in the desert.” (Psalm 55:7). But by God’s grace, I decided to be courageous, show up, and even went as far as renting skates. Halfway through the party, however, they stopped for races. First the little kids, then the big kids, and lastly the moms. I knew where this was going. My girls looked at me with those pleading eyes and then literally begged me to participate. I had a choice: I could either back down in fear, or show up and trust that God could use even this for His glory. I came dead last, but got a big hug from my girls who’d witnessed me fail… and survive! Sometimes it’s in the little things where we show up and stand up to our fears: of what others think, of failing, of disappointing others, where we practice getting the victory in the bigger battles. I’m praying for the courage to live a large life, marked by generosity and vulnerability, trusting in the Lord, His love for me, and His faithfulness in showing up.