Fear: My Faithful Companion

I’m a firstborn—innately independent and an achiever at heart. I’m the trailblazer. The guinea pig. I like to get things done, get my pat on the back, and appear like I have it all together.

But nothing makes me fall apart faster than the grip of fear.

Since middle school, fear and its nasty companion anxiety have been right by my side. I’ve been afraid to fail, afraid to stand out, and afraid of being alone. In college, my fears seemed to triple as I tried to balance making new friends, choosing a career path, and figuring out “how to know” things, from whether God was real to whether I was dating the right guy. I was a mess.

My spiritual walk has consistently been confused by fear. Nothing distorts my view of God quite like fear can.

Behind closed doors, fear’s voice causes me to panic, encourages me to question God, and makes me forget His faithfulness. With fear breathing down the back of my neck, I get all controlling. I try to fix problems or find solutions on my own. I’ve been known to wear out Google, seeking that blog post or website to fix whatever my current problem might be.

Staring into life’s unknown causes my heart to beat faster as the “what-ifs” take over.

But here’s the deal: No amount of information or rationalization has been able to take away my fear. It wasn’t until I was confronted with my worst fears that I finally figured out how to conquer my inner anxieties.

In the fall of 2010, I was pregnant for our second son Carter. Having no family history of genetic complications, birth defects were not on my radar. However, on December 23, 2010, a fear I never knew possible became a reality.

Carter did not develop kidneys while in the womb, a condition called bilateral renal agenesis. No rhyme. No reason. We became the rare 1 in 3,000 affected by this birth defect (March of Dimes).  The implication for our family was that while Carter could survive in utero, he would die within hours after being born.

I was in no way prepared. I remember sitting in that small, dark ultrasound room, the specialist describing Carter’s condition as she held my limp hand. Ben silently cried by my side. All I could do was sit there and think “this is not my story, this is not my story” over and over in my head.

I had done everything right. By eating well, exercising, avoiding alcohol, and not smoking, I thought I had controlled my pregnancy so well that my worst fears couldn’t touch me. I was wrong, and I had run out of answers.

During the most crushing season of my life, one of the truths I discovered was the secret to handling my fear.

You see, until this time, I had always saved part of the solution for me. While I wanted to trust God and “not fear” as He asks us to do over and over in His Word, my heart did not fully give over the control. I thought in my firstborn way that if I worked hard enough, thought long enough, or researched enough that I could manipulate the future and curb the fear.

But what I discovered, as I let the news of Carter’s condition sink in and in the months after his death, was the abundance of God. I had nothing to give, no answers, no ways of controlling my situation. I was empty of myself.  I remember one day, very clearly, telling God, “I either have to believe you are everything you say you are, or I have nothing.”

So I began to read the Book of Psalms and Lamentations. I would read His promises, journal about them, question them, and pray I would believe His words. I slowly, painfully found my emptiness and fears replaced with God’s abundant love and peace. When people say it’s a “peace that passes all understanding,” they aren’t kidding or being cliché. Even though I’d known God since the age of three, I never knew His immensity and fullness until then.

In the last three years, God’s abundance at my lowest is what has helped me handle the fear. It’s still there—a sneaky sidekick that likes to come in and cause me to question or take control. Our current adoption journey has brought on a whole new realm of potential anxieties and unknowns.

But now I know. I know that even in my worst fears, the hardest of circumstances, no matter what I feel, God IS who He says He is.

Every. Last. Word.

I wish I could shout it from the tops of the Tennessee hills, and everyone would instantly get it. But I know you have to figure that out on your own, in your own time.

All I can say, if you find yourself captive to fears or facing dark circumstances, start reading His promises. Ask God the tough questions, and ask Him to help you believe. If your heart is seeking, He will be right there with you, helping you get rid of fear and filling you up with His abundance.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.”

– Lamentations 3:22-23

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