I’m pretty confident on the outside. But on the inside, I’m pretty fearful.
I think psychologists call this scientific state, “being human.”
And when I’m afraid of something, I don’t just casually fear it. I go all in, marshaling every degree of creativity I possess as I dress up the monster hiding under the bed. (If you ever doubt you’re creative, just look at the exquisite colors and words you give your fears.)
When I face new decisions, like say writing a new book that I may have turned in a few weeks ago to the editor, I often feel like I am one mistake from being a hobo.
I don’t fear just writing the wrong book.
I imagine losing my job in some sort of spectacular way that prevents me from ever finding gainful employment again. I don’t just get blacklisted in one industry; I manage to get barred from every industry on the planet. My family would leave me too, because I’d be a hobo, and they wouldn’t want to be part of my new drifter lifestyle.
Riding the rails and what not. I’d kick around the Pacific Northwest and try to become a glassblower or something, but that wouldn’t work either. Ultimately, I’d fall apart and people would use me as a cautionary tale of extreme potential gone to extreme waste.
Cue mournful trumpet sound.
But, lately, I’ve started to ask a really simple question when I’m afraid. It’s only 6 words, but I’ve been surprised how powerful those few words are. Here’s what I say when I’m afraid now:
“Where is God in this fear?”
Every time I ask that question, the answer is always the same, “Nowhere.” When I paint scary pictures in my head of failures yet to pass or horrors yet to be, they are always the same. There is no God in that fear. When I imagine myself losing everything I have and trying to pick back up the pieces of my life, there is no God to comfort me. When I imagine a tragedy that has crumbled my family, there is no God to reassure us. When I imagine any sort of fear about my future, there is no God present.
There’s just me. With my meager skills and abilities trying to navigate the entire world.
That should be scary. I’m wildly incapable of trying to control the world. I’ve tried. It didn’t work.
God, on the other hand? You’d be surprised how very few things get out of control when they are in his hands. Never is the word that comes to mind. You’d be surprised how many situations are beyond his ability to redeem. None is the word that comes to mind. You’d be surprised how many monsters are bigger than him. Zero is the word that comes to mind.
When I ask myself, “Where is God in this fear?” I pause long enough to realize the apocalyptic future world my fear is telling me is almost here has no God in it. But my world does. The world where he calls me son and beloved and work-of-art does.
Fear is a lonely thing because it always tries to tell you there is no God. Don’t listen to it. God is near. And fear is a liar.
What’s a fear you have right now in your life?