Forgive me if this post, along with the last, seem a bit too introspective. I’m in the midst of processing a lot of things internally, and writing about it seems to be therapeutic for me. As I said a few weeks ago, this has become my journal of sorts, but I also figure that blogging about it gives the opportunity for others who might be feeling the same things to find something to help them on their own journey–and if that happens, it’s worth being a little bit vulnerable. So if you get bored with people rambling on about their internal emotions and feelings, feel free to skip this post. 🙂
In the last post, I talked about how my control issues have come front and center again recently, and some thoughts about that. The other thing I’ve been grappling with is closely tied to control, and that is fear. I’ve realized that some deep-seated fears motivate my compulsion to be in control (or at least to feel like I’m in control).
I’m not entirely sure where the fear factor came from in my life, except that with my parents’ divorce, followed by a major move out of state when I was still young, coupled with my mother’s own propensity to be afraid, and feeling that from her–I suppose it all combined to make me feel quite insecure as a kid. When fear shows up in my life, it usually manifests in one of two ways: either as a sort of bubbling undercurrent that stirs the control issues, as mentioned above; or as a large wave, which basically results in some sort of panic attack. The latter seems to be tied to another tendency of mine, a tendency to fixate on one thing, one problem or concern, until it is magnified way out of proportion. The bigger it gets in my mind, the more real it becomes to me, and the more fear I feel.
The more I think about it, I feel like such an unlikely candidate to be on the kind of journey I’m on. It seems like I ought to be the kind of person who gets a 9-to-5 job and stays at it for 30 years, goes to the same church for that long, gets the house, gets the retirement portfolio–surrounding myself with all the things that give the average person a sense of security, well within one’s comfort zone.
As it is, my life has been fraught with uncertainty and risk. I’m a sucker for taking the road less traveled, in large part because of my creative bent and my desire to do something different. I’m the guy who gets ostracized from institutions because he won’t “play ball.” I’m the guy whose source of income depends almost entirely on which decade you’re talking about–and in most decades, the income wasn’t quite enough.
Some people look at me and judge me and think I just never grew up. Others marvel and wish they had my courage.
It just seems an odd lifestyle for one so prone to fear. And I can tell you that while my choices have certainly fueled this lifestyle, I don’t think it’s been a conscious decision all the time. It’s just how I live.
As I ponder this, I can see two possible reasons why I live in this apparent contradiction. One thing is that for as much fear as I have fought in my life, there seems to be one thing stronger than my fear: my desire. I have a deep desire to live a life of significance, a deep desire to make a positive difference, a deep desire to experience a rich, full life, a deep desire to experience the miraculous. Many times in my life I have ventured into what appeared to be utter foolishness, simply because I wanted so badly to live by faith and see God work wonders.
I don’t think God is mad at me for this kind of thing; in fact, I think in some strange way it honors Him. (Not that I recommend all my choices to other people.) He even blessed me with a family who was just foolhardy enough to jump into the deep end right along with me.
But here’s the other reason why I think I have lived a life of risk: the best way to overcome fear is to face it. I think God has allowed me to get repeatedly into situations that expose and try my fears because He knows it is the best way to transfer me from fear to actual faith and trust.
I’m learning that the opposite of fear is not confidence; the opposite of fear is faith–or to use a different word, trust. I mentioned that I have always wanted to live a life of faith, and that means relinquishing control and placing my trust in God. When I am in fear, I am not doing that, and that is when I am more prone to try and control the outcome of my situation. I think the repeated seasons of uncertainty and risk in my life are my opportunities to deal with my deep-seated fears and learn to trust God with the many parts of my life that are out of my control. 🙂
A lot of times, it doesn’t feel like I’ve learned anything. But if I look back a number of years and think about how I would have reacted if I’d faced this-and-such of an issue back then…I think I’m a lot better off than I used to be. I can still fall off the wagon into utter control-freakdom, and I can still feel panic–but it also seems like I’m able to recover more quickly from those lapses, to venture more quickly and smoothly into a position of yielded-ness and trust.
Sigh. I’ll just be glad to see the day when trust in God becomes my first impulse, rather than my second or third. 🙂