Watch this video, with a hot cup of coffee, for a perfect start to your morning. The perfect mix of inspiration, motivation, and straight up stop being a doer that I’ve ever felt. Also, we all need a little Shonda.
It has certainly been a while since I occupied my little corner of the internet. I could use the excuse that things have been really crazy/busy/hectic, but you can refer to my last post for more on that. Also, I just pulled my head above the deep, dark, murky waters that are FINALS (and strep throat). Over those few days in bed, I have certainly had more than enough time to reflect on this semester (and binge watch a whole heck of a lot of Grey’s Anatomy). I finally started drinking coffee again in the last couple days, so bear with me because the thoughts will be a little messy, but sometimes that is the greatest thing.
I’ve been unpacking boxes of brokenness and hurt and pain and joy and gratitude lately (and using so many metaphors and that is good for the soul, friends).
Did you know that I am afraid of almost everything? I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of walking around in huge, public spaces. I’m afraid of shootings. I’m afraid of people walking behind me. I’m afraid of being kidnapped. I’m afraid of hornets. I’m afraid of people who linger too long in the produce section near me. I’m afraid of walking across the Kroger parking lot. I’m afraid of parking too far away. I’m afraid of driving on the interstate. I’m afraid of people who are behind me ordering coffee at Starbucks. I’m afraid of what will happen after college. When I lie down in bed at night, I’m afraid that one of the electrical cords in my room will just catch fire. I’m afraid that if I hear a noise, it’s inevitably the worst thing ever, like a person breaking in or an animal in the room. I’m afraid that one morning I could wake up and the person I love the most could say they don’t love me anymore. I’m afraid of testing. I’m afraid I’m not studying enough. I’m afraid of missing appointments or scheduling things wrong or getting too involved or emotionally invested. I’m afraid of car accidents. I’m afraid of the ocean. I’m afraid of rare diseases. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen if I don’t succeed or if I don’t accomplish the goals and dreams I have. I’m afraid I’m not trying hard enough. I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid of being in a room full of people.
You know I used to dream of living in New York City? I recently started researching and found some incredible summer internships up there, but then I remembered, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of being mugged. I’m afraid of being attacked in alleyways. I’m afraid of walking around by myself in a ginormous city. I’m afraid of the tiniest little statistics. I am afraid. Of everything, walking, talking, breathing, you name it, and I am probably afraid of it. And I have almost every single one of these thoughts on a daily basis. It’s overwhelming. And sometimes, I just tell myself I’m being dramatic because it really is blowing things out of proportion. But when it’s this to-your-core-I-could-possibly-die fear and your adrenaline starts pumping over the things you have to encounter everyday, no one should live like that.
It hasn’t always been this debilitating. That’s only happened recently. And it finally occurred to me that I hadn’t told anybody about this. I didn’t find it important because they aren’t the normal fears. The I’m not good enoughs or the I’m not worthy enoughs or the I’m incapables or the I’m unloveables. They’re the surface level stuff, the things that I don’t have any control over that could happen to me. The person’s shadow underneath my door who only needed to walk down the hallway at 10:30 at night or the sound the trees make outside my window. Why do I have any reason to be afraid of these things?
So I was reading through Psalm 119, and I came across verse 45.
“AND I SHALL WALK IN A WIDE PLACE, FOR I HAVE SOUGHT YOUR PRECEPTS.”
I looked up different translations of it too.
“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” NLT
“I will be secure, for I seek your precepts.” NET
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” NIV
I think it’s easy to listen to songs about God’s promises, and find hope in knowing that there is no fear in Him, but how often do I believe it? Rarely.
So what is this wide place the psalmist talks about? Freedom. A wide place is freedom. And I know that is exactly why I was drawn back to this verse. Walking with Christ means walking in freedom, and I don’t fully understand that yet. I don’t have the map of the wide place, or even the slightest image in my mind of what that looks like because I can’t bring myself to relinquish this control and these anxieties to Him in order to receive this gift of freedom, that was certainly bought with a price, but given to me for free. He delights in seeing our chains coming off. He delights in us, and we get to see that when we draw near to Him.
Unfortunately, I think I’ve always looked at the freedom that Christ gives us like that crappy guy we all know we “talked” to in high school. You never dated or put a label on it, but he was always there to go back to when you were lonely or needed someone’s hand to hold or needed someone to just talk to and make you feel wanted and needed and resemble a fake sense of intimacy. Did I nail that for you? The freedom’s always an option, but we don’t always choose it? I hate that I look at God’s freedom like a crappy high school guy, but here we are, and here I am, filled with fear, just like 16-year-old Jenna.
You split the sea so I could walk right through it. You drowned my fears in perfect love. You rescued me, and I will stand and sing, “I am a child of God.”
Oh Love, great Love. Fear cannot be found in You. And there will never be a day that You’re uncertain of the ones your choose.
And if my heart should dimly burn, and if my feet should fail to run, call my name and I will come right back to You. There’s no fear in love. There’s no fear in love.
You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling. There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones. What you make of this moment changes everything. What if the path you choose becomes a road? The ground you take becomes a home? The wind is high, but the pressure’s off. I’ll send the rain wherever we end up.
I finally told a friend about the fears yesterday. We sat down and I found myself spilling my guts out, and she was astounded. I found myself telling her that I was afraid of everything, and it was sort of like a wake up call. I didn’t realize how afraid I had been and how not normal that really was. She had no idea, and she said to me, “But you are not afraid to bear your heart, and that is beautiful. Bearing your heart is hard, and I rarely see it.” That’s a start. And I have no idea how it is easier to be vulnerable than to walk across the Kroger parking lot without the fear of being kidnapped, catcalled, or shot at. It is easier for me to show someone the deepest parts of my heart, even in the darkest of corners, but when it comes to living out the mundane and actually navigating my days without debilitating fear that hinders every aspect of my physical life, it’s hard as hell. Nobody should have to live like that.
“That’s the most beautiful thing in the world: when two people become fluent in choosing one another.” HB.
And this quote, I used to think about it in such a romantic and earthly way until I realized this is the beauty and the stuff of a relationship with God. How beautiful a thing that He continues to pursue and choose us, and all we have to do is choose Him back? Even in the midst of my fears, He chooses me. Even when I doubt His closeness and His promises, He clings tight. I’m not afraid that he doesn’t love me. I’m not afraid that He doesn’t call me worthy or enough or called, at least for right now, but I’ve been through a lot of those motions. I think that all of these superficial fears come from a lack of intimacy with Him and a fear that He isn’t with me.
And how fitting is it that Christmas is right around the corner? Emmanuel. God with us. It’s the little, sweet reminders that I pay the most attention to. And I think I’m realizing I can trust God with my heart, but because He isn’t tangible, I cannot trust Him with my physical life.
And if I can trust Him with my heart, then why in the world would I not trust Him with my physical self, with everything? These anxieties are not from Him, they cannot be found in Him. He calls us to come to Him when we are weary and to cast our burdens on Him. We cannot, and we aren’t supposed to, carry all of these fears and anxieties and baggage by ourselves. I think I’m most afraid of these things because they are things that I cannot control, but that requires trusting in Him, and I know He has used this realization to humble me and make me cling back to Him.
He is near. He is with us. He is gentle, fierce, and all-encompassing when it comes to dealing with our hearts. But He also manifests His goodness into our physical lives, and that is something that changes everything.
And you know what, right now I might be super freakin afraid of wide places, small spaces, parking lots, and big, empty chapels, but I will keep walking. I will never let it get so far as to paralyze me, so I will keep walking, and I’m hoping that one day I’ll look up to realize that I’m standing in the wide place, and God’s freedom was actually never too far from me. That is the hope that I cling to.