My family has joked about me needing a babysitter when no one else is going to be home overnight. The truth is, I have needed the presence of another human being to make me FEEL safe. Another person being present does not mean that I actually AM safe…it just gives me an inner experience of safety. If I don’t have another person in the house, it is a battle all night long against irrational fear.
Two weeks before my husband left for a hunting trip, he let me know that he would be going away. When he said he was going to be gone for 10 days I nearly panicked. I had recently been able to manage getting through shorter periods of time when he would go away, but this was going to be a seemingly insurmountable task for me. My eyes darted back and forth as I tried to “figure it out”. I knew this was my problem, not his, and he deserved to go. I should be a big girl who could stay home alone. How could I get through 10 nights of being alone? Where could I go, or who could be with me? I invited my sister to fly up to Alaska, from Florida, to spend a few weeks with me and she accepted. She had no idea what prompted my initial invitation. She lives alone every day of the year and would never have guessed she’d be babysitting her 59-year-old sister.
Am I a person of little faith because I experience such fear? Well, the week my husband left for his trip my counselor happened to uncover this one very prominent issue that I had somehow managed to hide from her. I thought I had told her, but apparently not. She was very interested in this and we ended up exploring its origins. Some of my stories from childhood helped her to find in me the person she refers to as “Little Kim” who never felt safe. She expounded that I possibly was “arrested” in development in regard to safety, and my current out-of-proportion fear stems from that childlike place of vulnerability.
My mother never experienced fear and when I shared with her as an adult that I was afraid to stay alone I remember her saying “Oh, I never am afraid. I trust in the Lord”. She had a simple faith in God and had complete confidence that her faith in Him could keep all harm from befalling her. I too believe in God, but I do not believe that faith in God protects me from all evil and harm in this world. I truly wish it did.
I remember going through the Earthquake on November 30, 2018 and experiencing tremendous, violent fear. I shook for hours after the quaking stopped. I had just stepped out of the shower when the first jolt hit. There’s nothing like being naked in an earthquake to make you realize how vulnerable and finite you are. In comparison to others, though, my reaction was extreme.
Today at church we covered Matthew 8 and within that passage there are several stories that highlight the various types of authority that God has over each area of life, such as sickness, weather/nature, evil, the ability to forgive sin for the purpose of eternal salvation, etc. These are not things humans have authority over. We have been given responsibility to have dominion over the earth, BUT, we do not have authority over nature, sickness, evil, God’s Word, or forgiveness of sins on behalf of others in relation to God’s eternal justice.
The convergence of my recent crisis of fear of being alone and this sermon about Jesus’s areas of authority may not readily gel for you and might seem a bit disjointed. But for me, it is truly eye-opening. It helped me to see that my fear, though traceable to its source in my childhood, is keeping me from experiencing submission to God’s authority over what happens to me in this life now. I still want control over evil and how it impacts me and my family. I want control over bad weather and natural disasters. I want control over sickness that invades my body and those of my loved ones. I want control over forgiveness so I can decide who is forgiven and who is left to pay for their sins against me and those I love. At times, I want authority to interpret scripture in a way that suits me and makes life easiest. The reality is, some level of me refuses God His rightful place of authority in my life.
But God has put me in this fallen, broken world and allows me to experience various parts of its fallenness and brokenness. It’s suffering. It’s danger. It’s evil. It’s violence. He DOES protect me from so much…I do feel that…but He does not protect me from it all. He is certainly with me through it (Psalm 23, which I have written about previously). Until Heaven I will never be completely free of sorrow, suffering, and all the effects of a broken, fallen world.
In Matthew 8:26 Jesus said to His disciples “Oh you of little faith, why are you so afraid?” They were in a boat on a body of water that had a furious storm suddenly threaten their lives while Jesus was asleep in the boat. They woke Jesus up and implored Him to save them. He got up, took care of the threat by commanding the wind and the waves to be calm, and immediately the elements “obeyed” because He has authority over nature. His miracles of healing were more sought after, but He demonstrated this area of His power over natural elements so that they would see He was God in the flesh, with authority over more than just sickness and death (as if that wasn’t enough).
God has authority over my life, He has kept me “soul safe” and allowed me to get to this place where I can now process the past, so that my once-arrested developmental stage can catch up with the rest of me and to merge with my deep faith in God’s love. I am confident that He has the best intentions for my life, even if that includes hardship, disappointment, aloneness, sickness, or any other negative experience.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God is using the processing of these fearful childhood experiences that shaped me into who I am to deepen my faith, to help me understand and accept who really is in control of my life and the world, and to submit to His authority in every circumstance. He’s going to work it all together for a good that I cannot yet see or understand when I fully surrender control to Him. I trust in this spiritual truth for every Christian believer. I John 4:18 says “Perfect love casts out fear”. I can reject fear, and trust in His character for all things to work together for my eternal good, learning to love God more and understand who He is as the rightful authority in this world and my life.