Picking It Back Up

Here we are in the midst of a study of the book She’s Got Issues, and three months later… I’m finally able to pick this back up. It’s been a busy, nay… crazy fall. Ups and downs of family life, ministry, and personal valleys. One might think I have, well, issues.

The reality is…I do!

The more I learn about myself, the more I realize just how many!

Sincerely, one of my issues is I tend to overcommit myself, and this was a fall that was full of commitments. And as much as it went against my perfectionistic tendencies, I had to let the blog go for a season. The relief overpowered the guilt, I must say.

But lately I have had that writer’s itch again…so here I am. Ready or not!

Before we pick back up with our book study, I wanted to do a little processing about my own journey. This self-awareness journey God’s had me on the past few years really escalated this past year.

I think the first slap (and it did feel like a slap – not so much because of the pain but the shock) came at the 2013 Women of Faith conference. My slap was the realization that I deal with some significant fear issues.

Why that would’ve been such a shock, I don’t know. I’ve always been the natural worrier and have even fought that anxiety bug.

But anxiety is non-specific – it is fear without a target. Fear. Now true fear is very specific, hence all the phobias. Claustrophobia. Arachnophobia. Triskaidekaphobia.

In my estimation, fear can be an easier issue to deal with than anxiety because it is specific. You know, that idea of facing our fears.

The talks at that particular Women of Faith grabbed me. Opened my eyes. Helped me see myself and this issue more clearly. Luckily I had a good friend with me, and we both happened to be struck by this same “ah-ha” about ourselves. We processed and prayed together. Worship was never so sweet and empowering as it was that weekend.

But God didn’t leave me there. He wanted more from and for me than just to be aware. He really did want me to start working on overcoming those fears.

Now I’m not talking about fears of small spaces or spiders or the number 13. I’m talking about much more subtle fears – like fears of loss of love or loss of relationship.

Yup. Those are my two biggies. Figured those out at an out-of-state workshop after doing the Enneagram Assessment. My Enneagram says I’m a Helper and a Peacemaker. No surprise there.

The shocker was that for each trait there’s a fear. I really had to wrestle through claiming the fears that went with my personality types.

As I journaled my experiences at that workshop during the flight home, the light went on. I quite literally dropped my pen and gasped.

Those. Are. My. Fears.

It’s why when my oldest son went askew in high school I had a hard time laying down the law. I was afraid if I was too strict, I’d push him away, that I would lose that relationship, that love.

It’s why when something goes wrong at work and confrontation is required that I hesitate and dread the confrontation. I fear losing those relationships.

Now, I didn’t say this was a rational fear. I’d even say it’s a subconscious thing. I’m 45 years old and never realized the WHY behind what I do (or don’t do). Yet I’m discovering that the fear-motive is huge in every aspect of my life…how I parent, in my marriage, how I handle conflict, in my friendships, and even as I lean into my calling. Fear holds me back — it keeps me from doing the healthy, good things that bring freedom and trust…even joy.

Most recently I had the opportunity to speak some hard, but needed, words of observation and personal response to someone I respect and admire. A year ago this confrontation would’ve left me a puddle.

I knew this conversation was necessary, and God had made it very clear I was the one to have it, so I spent several days thinking it through and praying…a lot! I was simply amazed at my composure and ability to speak words of truth in love without falling to pieces. I had such a sense of release and relief as I walked away. I knew the Holy Spirit had equipped me, but I also recognized that because I was aware of my fears, I was better able to overcome them.

Then the next day…the doubt set in. I started second-guessing my decision to confront and was so overcome by the fear of losing that relationship I could hardly concentrate on anything else. I would read into interactions and conversations with this person and thought I could read a coldness.

BUT, I recognized it for what it was. That fear. So I reached out to that person and said, “You know I love you.” And he laughed! Yes, laughed (warmly). He saw my fear for what it was too. He quickly assured me that our conversation was healthy and good. That we were fine.

Whew. Then I laughed.

I think I recognized in that moment just how debilitating fear can be if left unchecked. I had made further steps on the journey of defeating that fear in my life.

I spoke of my fall commitments earlier. One of my commitments was to read a book that would help me identify more clearly what God is calling me to in this season. What I didn’t expect as I read and processed that book was to realize I was holding back on God.

That’s a disconcerting realization. And it’s something I’m still working on…but taking care of these fears that follow me around is a huge part of getting to the place where I’m whole and healthy, ready to go wherever He may lead.

As the New Year (quickly) approaches, I want to continue this walk I’m on. I want to be able to do whatever it is God calls me to do with total trust and faith. And I want to live without fear.

You know, as we’ve been reading She’s Got Issues, we’ve learned about many issues, fear being only one of them. The more I learn about our issues, the more I understand how interwoven they are. So if I’m going to live without fear, I’m going to have to be honest with myself, prepared to act on what I learn about myself.
To be willing to change is to be okay with laying down pride and picking up a big cup of humili-tea. (That’s harder for some of us than others, I know.)

We also have to be willing to trust God. That means knowing Him well, knowing His character, His heart. That He wants what is good for us. That He is for us. And because He loves us, He will give us all we need to be the overcomers He has made us to be (Romans 8:31, 37).

I am all too aware that the coming year will hold more challenges, more heartaches, more victories, more opportunities to apply what I’m learning — to walk the walk.

Just this week two friends and I were talking about what God is doing in our lives, what He’s calling us to do. All three of us got pretty emotional really fast because we SO want to follow Him. But it’s also hard to follow where we cannot see. It seems as if He gives us just enough to see for the next step.

Where does that step lead? None of us knew. And all three of us are scared to death about that big unknown. (That fear thing again…)

And yet… We long to follow. We desire to do as He bids. Why? Because deep down we know He will give us what we need when we need it, He’ll bless people through us, and He’ll bless us with the gifts of joy and contentment, satisfying that longing to make a difference.

Shall we be like Indiana Jones and take that step of faith off the ledge? I sure want to! I want to get to a place where I can take that scary step without fear, full of faith. Faith is what it takes to be brave and follow where we cannot see, unimpeded by fear, unencumbered by issues.

I’m ready to continue the journey. Are you?

Chipping away at the fear,
Shelley Johnson

Published by Shelley Johnson

Follower of Christ, wife, mother of three, daughter, sister, friend. Seeker of ways to share the love I've found in Jesus with others.

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