Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Face Your Fears

Face Your Fears
Peggy Mack
August 20, 2013

How often have you heard or given the advice to "face your fears"?  I gained new perspective when my morning devotions revealed this in Prayer:Dare to Ask by Ralph Moore.  "We learn 'your mind is the dwelling place of God''. 1Corinthians 6:19 tells us "Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit". " God chooses to live in our minds, the center of all our emotions".  It is no wonder we have heard phrases like, "use your head" and "face your fears".  Accept that concept, if only for a few moments, at least, long enough to realize that in our moment of fear we are told to "face them head on."

Even non-believers will tell you the best response to a challenge or problem is to stay clear-minded, make a plan and execute the plan.  How much better would our outcome be if we began our response by connecting our mind with God, who dwells within us, in fervent prayer?  He would be part of our choices, our plan, our actions. We would be confident and strengthened with His love and guidance, his peace and comfort and our eyes would be open to His blessings.

After our dad's death, I left the church because I got tired of running out of the church doors crying with the beginning music of one of his favorite hymns. I could not stop the flood of memories and the intense grief I was feeling.   I did not face my fears head on. 
 I did not take my fears to God and listen to His voice. I did not talk to my pastor and ask for help in getting past the challenge.   As the weeks passed by, it only worsened and I began having horrible panic attacks while dressing for church.  I made the decision to handle it by avoiding the situation and the leaving church permanently.

This Sunday, we arrived and were seated in the pew.   I began looking over the bulletin.  My sense of joy and peace drizzled down to my shoes as I saw the name of the hymn my mother loved so much.  I silently read the first phrase, "A Mighty Fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing."   We had recently defeated the challenge of what to wear and were certain smooth sailing was ahead.  But no!  I had not allowed for the "old familiar favorite family hymn" attack.  And now, here it was!  I was facing the challenge I dreaded for decades.  I felt "hemmed in"...or maybe, I should say, "hymned in!" On both sides of me sat other parishioners and I was in the middle with no escape.  I did have tissues for tears in my purse, but they would never be able to muffle the sounds of my "ugly cry."  Oh! I hate how I cry in public.  Why couldn't I be blessed with one of those Southern Belle sniffles?  Not me!  I have been given the "choke and snort" cry.  

The music was beginning to play.  I whispered a "begging" prayer to God to take my thoughts, ease my mind, slow my breathing and heart rate and get me through this hymn.  I was tired of running out the doors and wanted more than anything to worship regularly, again.  I whispered to Bill, "This was mom's favorite hymn.  We all knew all the verses.  I cannot sing it, but I'll hold the hymnal for you."  

I felt peace was eminent.  A plan was in place. I was tired of being unable to get through hymns attached to memories of my parents and letting them chase me out the church doors in shame.  I whispered to God, "I'm so tired of running!"

The measures of music were being played.  The first words were being sung by the choir. "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing." Oh gosh!  Here it comes, the flood of tears.  The edge of the ugly snort followed by squalling sounds are rising up within me.  I closed my eyes.  I pressed my head against Bill's chest and felt his strong, warm hand rest on my back.  He pulled me in close.  

And then, peace, sweet peace began to fill my mind.  i felt gentle comfort in my soul. My rapid heart rate and panicked breathing began to return to a steady pace.  I opened my eyes and slowly stood strong as I nodded to let Bill know I was going to be fine.  No one around me knew a small victory was mine. But I knew, in my head and heart, I had made it through a beloved favorite hymn filled with memories for the first time in twenty years. 

This morning, as I read my devotions and God's word, I found a new insight, a new understanding.  God resides in our minds and is there for us to involve Him in our life's choices and challenges.  He is not far away in Heaven or residing in holy places.  God resides in each of our minds and is there for us to have a relationship with Him on a personal level throughout each day.

The anxiety and fear I experienced was replaced in a few moments by Bill's compassion, my surrendering to God and God's gift of peace, strength, comfort and compassion.  By opening up my heart and renewing my relationship with God, I am receiving so many blessings and am a witness to God's love and grace.

Was the "old familiar favorite family hymn" attack a major adversity? No, it was not compared to a major disease or the death of a loved one,of course not! But it was an opportunity for me to learn to defeat small challenges by involving God.

Will I face more small challenges that may not even seem like challenges to others? I can almost guarantee it will happen.  Am I learning to face them in this new walk of faith?  Yes, I am.  And, I have decided that with every small victory I am practicing and learning and preparing myself for when the challenges become enormous and feel insurmountable.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I am grateful for these small victories which allow me to practice my faith, to acknowledge your presence and to become a more mature Christian.  With each small victory is new joy!
In Jesus' Name,


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