POD #23: Your natural state
Immediately as I ready the title of today’s prompt I thought I live in the natural state! Arkansas used to be the “Land of Opportunity” when I was born, now it is the “Natural State.” If only it was as easy as changing a slogan or crossing a state line to be able to drop my fears and walk in the version of myself that I was designed for by my Creator.
Fear is by definition an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. How quickly, even as children, we begin to develop this sense of fear as we interpret the environment around us. Often, the more we are exposed to the world, the greater those fears grow. This is especially true when we live in an isolated version of the world and are interpreting danger, pain or threat from the third-hand reports of others. One need only look at the fear frenzy caused by social media in regards to political events, community tragedies, and social problems to see this.
I think fear comes from the unknown – not knowing what the truth is. There are things in my life that I have faced where initially the seed of fear was placed because I did not have the factual information of what lay ahead.
The idea of going to college in a new place, away from family and friends created a certain amount of fear. When I went and toured the school I fell in love with the community. When I located housing for my family the fear lessened. As I made connections in the community I had even greater peace. The more I knew, the less I feared. Or starting a new job creates a certain level of fear, but usually after a few weeks that fear subsides because I come to know my environment and what is expected from me.
Many people fear people who are homeless. Having been homeless for a stent in my life, I do not fear people with no home. I know that there are good and bad in any group. I know some people truly chose to be homeless, others made a series of poor choices that led to the situation, and still others have ended up homeless due to events outside their control. I also know that desperate people do desperate things, and sometimes people act outside of their character to meet the needs of those they care about. Having knowledge about the causes of homelessness and the barriers they face helps me not to fear homeless people.
So I think that to un-acquire, divest of, shed or release any and every fear I have acquired over my lifetime takes wisdom and knowledge. When I look at my life and the areas where I have fears, I need to educate myself. First I need to rely on the Holy Spirit and God’s wisdom to guide and direct me. I can also do my part by researching and educating myself from the knowledge that has been given to others through talking with those who have faced what I am fearful of, reading books, and watching material that has been created. I need to make sure that information I am obtaining is from reliable and trustworthy resources. I need to make sure that I am not just looking for information that agrees with my opinion, but really provides a rounded view of all sides of the topic.
When I envision a version of myself that moves about the world boldly, freely and with confidence that, ultimately, everything is actually working out in my favor, it is a version that stands firmly on the promises in God’s Word. When I seek God’s wisdom, His word promises in Proverbs 8:35 “Whoever finds me (Wisdom) finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” When I look for it, I see God’s favor on my life; but it is easy to let my fears drown out wisdom and ultimately his favor if I left it.
When I envision a version of myself that stays constantly certain that everything is alright, regardless of the current state of my circumstances it is because I am trusting fully in God. I can be certain that it will be alright because of the promise contained in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” When I stay focused on God instead of giving way to fear, I can look towards the process that I may be going through; knowing that despite where I am at in the moment, ultimately God will work everything out for my good.
Fear drives me to listen to the world around me, instead of the one within me. Fear keeps me from stepping out into the gifts and callings that God has placed inside of me, and prepared for me long ago. The fearless me, would speak out for others who have lost their voice – those marginalized by society – the homeless, the single parents, the broken, the abused child, the trafficked woman, the hopeless. The fearless me would rally the communities around these people to reach out and support the causes that help them – to rally them to support with their time and with their finances. The fearless me, would reach out to the churches with the urgency that Christ warns us about to begin to walk in love and unity with each other, across denominational lines, to be the hands and feet to meet the needs of those that society has marginalized, those that we have learned to fear instead of love as Christ did. I would be fearless. I would be undaunted in my pursuit. I would be spent on what I know God has called me to do.