The Comfort of Fear

The Comfort of Fear

Many times when we talk about fear, we focus on all the things fear keeps us from doing. We think about the times when we wanted to or needed to do something but was unable to follow through because fear gripped us and said it wasn’t going to turn out well/ you’re not qualified for that/ you don’t know what you’re doing, blah blah blah. For many years, I have allowed fear to stop me from doing things that I knew God put in my spirit to do but I was too concerned about what people would think of me. Thoughts like, will they like it? Will I be received well? Will they think differently of me? would plague my mind. I have come to the conclusion that it. does. not. matter.

What does matter is how I fulfill my destiny. It is important for me to share my journey with others to hopefully inspire them to seek refuge in their gifts and talents, whatever they may be. I was teased in college and was told that I was great at helping people develop a backbone. I encouraged others to challenge anyone who dared to deny their truth and attempted to diminish their value. I guess I am passionate about this because I remember a time when my backbone was none existent, when I was tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, every empty promise, every empty experience, and every time I was overlooked and undervalued. While I was reflecting on this tonight, I realized that I was resting in the comfort of my fear. 

I once heard someone say, “Well, I can’t fail if I don’t try and if I don’t have any goals.” This saddened me because I thought about how little this individual knew about the power they possessed. But when I realized that there is an even more desperate side of this quote, I wanted to weep. Not having goals is child’s play compared to having one and allowing fear to comfort you in a way that paralyzes you from ever coming out of hiding. Not only does fear hold back the one who wants to catapult forward, but it also anchors the individual who seeks refuge and security in all the wrong places. If you’re not careful, fear will convince you that it is better to you than your friends, family, lover, and your dreams. Some people are risk takers and many are not. For those who like to play it safe (like me), they often entertain fear because it gives the false impression that there is safety and security there. And you know what? To some extent, this is true because when you dare to venture out into unknown territory, you are going to face opposition, frustration, disappointment, and setbacks. 

Once I realized I was receiving comfort from fear AND it was something I did not ask for, I knew I had to get rid of it! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cloak myself in fear from time to time just to have some sense of peace from the world of unknowns. However, I know that there is something more out there, I can feel it and I know you can too. I know you feel the tug on your heart and in your spirit. No more I should’ve, I could’ve. Make the decision today that new territory and the unknown is where you want to seek comfort knowing that the Comforter has you as you go. You got this! How do I know? Because I got this too. 

I did that… and it still didn’t work out

There have been times when I went through tough situations and no matter the advice people gave me, things didn’t get any easier. Maybe you have experienced the same. Doesn’t it seem like everyone has advice for you? Some of the advice I received sounded like:

  • Hang in there, girl
  • It’s only going to make you stronger
  • God has a plan and He is going to work everything out
  • You just have to be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table

To take it a step further, I took all of the encouragement to heart. I reminded myself daily that God is sovereign and in control. I told myself that I am a winner and the head and not the tail! I told my situation that God was going to work it out. I even said that I just need to rest in the promises of God and that if He closed this door, it’s because He is going to open another one. I did it all!

But I was still hurt. I was still frustrated. I was still confused and uncomfortable. So, what do you do when you’ve given your all, did your best, made sacrifices, and played every play by the rules of the book and things still didn’t work out? The answer to that question is complex, yet simple. You wait and endure. Yeah, I know. How anti-climactic was that? I don’t have a miracle cure, a magic wand or wisdom beyond my years to share with you. All I can say is wait and endure it.

I do believe that the troubles and hardship that we experience is not going to last forever. I believe that the God I serve sent His son Jesus to die on the cross so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. There was a woman with an issue of blood that bled for 12 years. She was depleted of her strength and resources for 12 years, so why can’t I deal with this discomfort for a month? Instead of wallowing or drowning in your sorrow, consider, “What do I need to get from this”? There is ALWAYS a lesson in the storm, especially if you can focus on the sunshine that follows the raging wind in the moment.

Be blessed and be victorious.

Now I Know that I Know

There is a difference between establishing boundaries and guidelines to work within and being too rigid. Our boundaries are usually established due to our experiences, perceptions, values and beliefs and to some degree, our biases. These boundaries are intended to keep us safe and operating in what we believe to be our maximum potential. However, what happens when we encounter an individual or situations that threaten those boundaries? Is this a time to remain firm, or is it an opportunity to expand our mindset?

Since I am going to ask you to be honest and transparent, I will go first. I am a Christian, a Believer in Jesus Christ, and I do not agree with or condone the LGBTQ+ community preferences. My faith tells me this is an abomination to God; however, I am in conflict. As a Social Work (SW) student, I am consistently placed in positions where my beliefs, self-imposed laws and boundaries are challenged and stretched. Although I have not changed my beliefs concerning the LGBTQ+ community, I have softened my approach to them. I do not believe in or condone any physical, emotional, or mental aggressions towards the community. Instead, I have intentionally educated myself by taking a course, watching documentaries, reading books, blogs, and have received hours of training on their history, terminology, and how to address and engage in a non-judgmental manner. The most rewarding education has come through conversation. I am so grateful to those who have been patient and willing to let me ask questions and better understand their culture and community. Your acceptance of my ignorance was impressive and eye-opening. Due to these exposures, I have found myself engaging with the members in ways that I have not before. I was rigid in my thinking and recognized that I needed to expand.

I was reading my SW book one day and a question popped in my head- is it possible to be a social worker and exemplify -isms (racism, classism, ageism, colorism, etc.) at the same time? How can I purposefully and knowingly be a member of a community that promotes the safety of the most vulnerable populations and treat the same population poorly? It seemed like a contradiction. So I ventured out to educate myself. I needed to know more about the LGBTQ+ community so that I better understood what I was opposing. “… because the Bible said so” was no longer an excuse or a valid argument.

One of my SW professors said something that was so profound that I continue to chew on it. He said, “learning is when you can still believe what you believe knowing the information that contradicts it”. I usually pride myself on questioning everything, but was I really doing that? Was I really questioning EVERYTHING? No, I wasn’t. I spent time questioning only the things that I was comfortable with exploring, not the things that made me avoid eye contact and shift in my seat. I was not really expanding my learning as I assumed, instead I was reaffirming what I knew. I was open to learning only the things that were within my comfort zone. And that… that is not learning. I was a counterfeit.

I have decided that I am no longer going to blindly believe in anyone or anything because of tradition, generational values or because it sounded good on the radio. I am on a quest to reassess, reevaluate and relearn what I know so that I know that I KNOW! It may seem like this would shake my faith, but actually, it’s had the opposite effect. I am now more confident as a Believer because I have placed myself in vulnerable positions for my advancement. That’s what faith is all about, right?! Making yourself vulnerable and having faith in something that is bigger than you. I don’t just think I know, now I know that I know.

  1. Now, it’s your turn :-). Reflect on the questions below and enjoy the journey.
    What do you believe and why do you believe that? Who is the provider of this belief (i.e. family, yourself, mentor)?
  2. What are somethings you’re willing to relearn?
  3. What boundaries have you set that you recognize may need to be reassessed?
  4. When do you plan to start?

 

 

Time and Energy

One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the years in marriage is the importance of focusing my time and energy. For those who do not know the difference, let me break it down for you real quick. Time management answers the following questions- what do I need to accomplish? When do I need to have it done? When is the best time for me to do that? Where do I need to go to achieve this goal and how long is it going to take me to get there? Whereas energy management looks at the focus and attention you’re going to devote to the task or project. It asks, how am I going to accomplish this? What distractions do I need to address in advance so I can increase my productivity?

In my marriage, I had to reassess and ask myself- Am I just putting in time, or both time and energy? I realized that if I wanted the outcomes I was looking for, I had to do more than just show up everyday. No, that’s not enough. Instead, I needed to show up and do something. Have you ever attended a conference or an event and you got nothing out of it? It started at 6pm and you were there at 6pm. You stayed until 9pm and walked away knowing nothing new and not even sure of the purpose of what you just attended. This is a typical time vs. energy dilemma. Now think about where this has shown up in your marriage, friendships, and other relationships. How many times did you show up (time), but did not engage or was not committed (energy)?

Remember, time and energy, while different in function, do not have to be exclusive. In fact, you’ll find that you feel most accomplished when they take place together. So, with this new information, what are you prepared to do next? How are you going to bridge these two together in your relationship?

 

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

 

In preparation of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be best to share an article I wrote for the Purpose Drive Women Magazine. Whether you believe in the day of love or not, the article is still a good read. Learn about how you can take your relationship(s) to the next level by being more cognizant and articulating what the three words, “I love you” mean to you. Enjoy :).

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

It’s Not You- It’s the Word

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

-Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23

Often times when we hear this message preached, emphasis is placed on providing a place for the seed to be sown—the good ground. Is it possible to believe that you have good ground for the word, but then realize it has no depth? Well, if you are afraid to admit it, allow me to be the first. This has happened to me plenty of times! I heard the Word, I received it, but then sometime the following week (or maybe even 3 days later), I find it difficult to regurgitate the Word! I mean, did I even receive one if I can’t remember it?

As a leader, God has entrusted you with the responsibility of maintaining your garden. It is up to you to put in the effort to make sure it has the proper nutrients so when you plant something, it won’t so easily be destroyed by the environment. It is imperative that you take notice and cater to the needs of your garden. Your garden will only produce to the degree it has been prepared and cultivated. If you don’t spend much time tilling the ground, pulling up weeds, laying fertilizer and watering it, nothing will grow.

How do you protect your ground? You read your Word, spend time in prayer and worship. The Bible instructs us to set our affections on things above, and not on the things of the world. But if you don’t spend any time with Him, you will not develop an appetite for Him. Developing an appetite for Him will keep you from stumbling as well. An Appetite means you need to satisfy a desire or a need. Once you spend time with Him on a regular, you will desire to seek Him more and more, BEFORE reacting to situations and BEFORE making decisions.

Have you ever noticed that when you are not trying to accomplish anything, everything seems fine? What about when you make the decision to accomplish something? Does it seem like things become more difficult? Verse 21 informs us that tribulations and persecutions are going to come, BECAUSE OF THE WORD! When a Word is spoken over your life, the enemy will bring about every opposition possible to keep this transformation from manifesting. Why? He stands the chance of losing a lot if you get to your next position in God. The more you grow, the more he loses.

Take your leadership role as an example. While God gives us grace for our designated tasks, there is still some opposition that comes with leadership. As leaders, we have to protect our vision. If God has given you a vision for something, write it down and make it plain so it can manifest at the appointed time. You have to be committed to the plan and strategy of the Lord. When opposition comes, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord! This thing will pass, but you have to endure hardness as a good soldier.

Leaders are charged with the responsibility of living a life of integrity, especially in front of God’s people. You want to set an example and give them encouragement that if God spoke it, it will come to pass! What does it look like if you are trying to reassure someone else that God’s Word does not return void when it looks like you are having difficulties experiencing the manifestations of God’s Word yourself? To their surprise, you forfeited your own destiny by not protecting your vision!

So next time you feel God pulling you in another direction, but your circumstances are not in line; or if you feel like the enemy has a personal vendetta against you—it’s not you, it’s the Word!