Good thoughts yesterday. Thank you. I had already written and scheduled this follow-up post, and decided not to alter it based on your comments, even though some of you went the same direction I did, and some did not. Grin.
You can forget about words of affirmation and acts of service. It may be unconventional, but it’s true: If I love you, I will worry about you.
I worry about my children and my man, my foster children and their birth families, my dog, my church people, my siblings, my parents, the elderly, the sick, the lonely, and random people I meet on the street.
I never considered myself a fearful person, but with growing responsibility has come growing anxiety. Surely if I worry enough about things, it will help somehow. If I foresee the problems, they can’t be quite as bad. Can they? If my dog is lost out there in the darkness and I worry, won’t she find a guiding light to bring her home? If a friend is sick and my heart is heavy on her behalf, I’m lifting her burden. Aren’t I?
I know I’m supposed to trust God, so here’s how I solve that problem: I figure if I worry and pray simultaneously, I’m good.
In church last Sunday, my husband Ryan talked about fear. (I hate when his sermons convict me; I avoid it as often as I can.) He said that fearless is not necessarily the goal. Anyone who has attempted to follow a “fearless leader” can testify to the wisdom of a little caution. There is danger out there, but the leader refuses to acknowledge its presence. Full steam ahead, comrades. What’s a little blood?
Ryan also said that fearful is not the goal. No one wants to live – is intended to live – bound up in fears, unable to live freely and fully. Peering over our shoulders. Dodging bullets in peacetime.
So what is the goal? The middle road is courage, he said, and my heart relaxed.
Courage is not being unafraid. Courage is persisting in doing what you were called to do.
Sometimes as a Christian I am uncomfortable with negative emotions. I idealize a life free of anger, free of sadness, free of fear. But God gave those emotions as gifts – gifts! – for a reason. Without anger, how do we see the injustices of the world? Without sadness, what is joy? Without fear, what fence keeps us off the edge of the cliff? We may not enjoy these emotions, and they’re not a healthy place to settle permanently, but they shape us in indispensable ways.
And fear? The truth is that the world is full of danger. Choosing X path may very well lead to Y and Z calamities; trusting God does not guarantee safety. All kinds of bad things, both imagined and unimaginable, will befall me; my child may die on that surgical table. There’s danger.
There’s no cowardice in naming the enemy, in feeling the fear, in seeing all the things that could go wrong on this path. But if it is the right path, I will choose to walk it. And, harder still, I will let the people I love walk the paths that could lead them to harm – because there is no path that could not.
So let me worry a little. And let me admit it when I do.