Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

Category: anxiety

What 2017 Taught Me About Hope

This blog post is co-authored by my boyfriend, Owen Wolf.

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A Year of Hope

2017 is coming to an end. Another year filled to the brim with memories that are already fading away as 2018 looms ahead with unwritten adventures.

This year has been a crazy one for me. I was heavily involved in my church and finished my last year at community college. Eventually, I decided to take a break from being a youth leader as I started my senior year of college. Not only that, but I’m also in a relationship (as you can clearly see)!

One theme of 2017 that Owen and I have clearly seen in our lives is Hope. Owen had lost hope while focusing on the temporal. He did not want to think about the road ahead.

However, I struggled to grip onto the anchor of hope in a different way. Anxiety paralyzed me as I tried to gaze into something not meant to be seen. I was trying to control my future, to set in stone what is really shifting sand.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the past or try to grasp for control of the future. But both ways of thinking can cause us to lose hope. As we have grown, Owen and I now see the importance of standing on the solid rock that is Jesus Christ.

 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:29 NIV)

Our salvation is secured in Jesus. We don’t have to worry about our past or future with God. He washes all of the old things away, and He makes all things new.

An Eternal Perspective

We need to start acting in the present while having a more eternal perspective. The Bible tells us to think about today and not worry about tomorrow, but it also tells us to focus on the Kingdom of God.

Eternity is not just some concept from the far away future; it is a reality for the past, present, and future. Eternity is in this very moment. We are eternal souls in temporary bodies.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33-34 NIV)

What 2017 Taught Me About Hope

My challenge for you today is to look back on 2017. What do you remember? Chances are, you only remember the highlight reels of the good and bad times.

When Owen and I tried looking back on the past two years, we found that we could hardly remember anything!

The point is to remember that this life is fleeting. It is good to live life to the fullest and be present, and to plan for the years you may have left. However, it is even more important to have an eternal perspective. Ask God what that looks like for you, and what legacy He wants you to leave.

We can hold on to hope, knowing that God is with us every step of the way and that He is ultimately in control of our lives. He has great plans for us, and 2018 is only just the beginning.

Happy New Year, lovely one! I hope you have a fabulous and blessed 2018.


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In a Boat With Fear and Jesus

Picture this: Three girls are sitting in a canoe on windy waters. One of them is in the middle, clutching onto the sides of the boat for dear life as it tilts and bobs. Even though her friends are paddling and assuring her that everything is perfectly fine, she can’t stop shaking and singing “Oceans” by Hillsong.

That girl is me. 

A picture of me, overcoming my fear by going canoeing.

It sounds ridiculous now, considering how I was wearing a life jacket and was in a boat with two skillfully trained swimmers who I love and trust. But sitting in that canoe last weekend reminded me just how shaky and unstable this life can feel sometimes. Like a beautiful, scary, and mysterious adventure. 

 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14: 29-31 NIV)

Focus

I know I quote this passage a lot, but it is just that relevant. Anyone who has struggled with anxiety or fear can relate to Peter’s woes in those stormy waters.

As I was trying to keep calm on that canoe, all I could think about was the movie, The Shack. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. It’s an inspiring story about a man named Mack, who has an encounter with God after a series of tragic, faith-shaking events in his life.

In one scene of the movie, Mack is in a boat, being plagued by dismal waters. He can’t see any way out. He is completely consumed by darkness and fear.

That is, until Jesus shows up. Suddenly God is asking Mack to focus his gaze on Him instead of the dark waves around him. When Mack finally musters the courage and faith to do this, he finds that the storm around him dissipates. He is free to see only Jesus.

There came a point when I was sitting in that little canoe that I realized I would have to trust Jesus and that He is who He says He is. My fear didn’t matter, and it would serve no purpose in my life other than to paralyze me. 

Trust

When I stop to think about what might have happened to me if I had tipped over the canoe, I realize that God would have kept me safe. He has never let me down before, so why would He start now? Instead of being like Peter and focusing on the rough waters around me, I should have just kept my eyes on Jesus. 

I don’t know where you are in life or your walk with God, lovely reader. Maybe you don’t even know who Jesus is. But I urge you to remember that nothing you can do will cease the waves and storms of this life. Only God’s perfect peace can bring you through it.

It can be so easy to look at all of the problems and stress around us, but we need to remember that there is a God who is bigger than any storm we may face. 

Despite my anxiety-ridden first experience at canoeing, I still ended up having a blast with my friends. I also learned that faith requires trust, despite the stormy seas of life. If I keep looking at the King who holds my entire world, I know that no matter what, I am safe. 

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8 NIV)


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Out of Focus

I didn’t realize I was having a panic attack until I couldn’t breathe. I felt my throat constrict as I tried desperately to remember how to control my inhales and exhales. The only thing that seemed to bring me back was saying the name of Jesus.

Anxiety is not something that is easily understood. I think that a lot of times, Christians simplify it by saying that anxiety is just a sign of a lack of faith. Even I was starting to wonder if my belief was strong enough.

However, my world-shaking experience that day was not just from a lack of faith. I finally realized that, at the root of my anxiety, I had somehow lost focus on God. I knew that I could trust Him,  but He wasn’t at the forefront of my mind and heart in the way that Jesus should always be.

Sound familiar? It’s actually something the Apostle Peter experienced.

So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30 NKJV)

Although most of us look at Peter’s rebuke for having a lack of faith, we often forget where this unbelief and fear actually originated. Peter lost his focus. Instead of looking toward Jesus as he took his steps on top of the violent waves, he got distracted by the storm around him.

I am a Peter sometimes. I step off of the boat and into some of the great things that God has called me to be a part of, and I forget to fix my eyes on Him.

I am so busy trying to be the “good girl” and please those around me, and do anything  that I can to help and make up for my weaknesses. My intentions are good, maybe even noble, but they’re also deceptively self-destructive.

Now that I’ve made the decision to step back from a couple of things, I’ve found a small void that can now be filled by the presence of Jesus. I can let Him in even more.

Work is good. School is good. Ministry is good. But what happens when jobs, positions, and people become idols in our lives? What happens when they fall apart or are ripped away from us?

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-43 NKJV)

We can easily fall into the Martha trap of doing and serving (which is fine when done right). But when things stop going our way or become too much, we realize that what we really need is to focus on God and rest in His presence like Mary.

Falling apart or feeling anxious when life gets stressful does not make you a “bad Christian.” It makes you human. At least you’re stepping off of the boat.

Lovely reader, you don’t have to live this way permanently. Little by little, start fixing your eyes on Jesus. Put  your time, thoughts, and energy on His unrelenting love.

Right now, I’m still learning to do this, but that’s okay. God is still walking with me, cheering me on. He is for me, and He is for you too (Romans 8:31)! Even in my moment of dire panic, He never left my side.

For now I’ll keep pressing in and reaching out to Jesus, trusting that my fears will keep fading, until they are no more.

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)


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How Fear Becomes Faith

I didn’t realize what a hypocrite I can be until I broke down in my room a couple of weeks ago. I was in the midst of making decisions about my education and the fear of the future was absolutely crippling.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t even write. I was crying and crawling into my bed, wishing that I could just quit adulting.

Ever felt that way before, lovely reader? I have a feeling I’m not alone.

The only problem is that I didn’t feel like I could turn to God.  

I write a lot on overcoming anxiety and trusting God, so freaking out and having a meltdown makes me feel like a huge failure–like my faith isn’t real enough. 

Eventually God tugged at my heart enough to pray. And that’s when it hit me. Jesus freaked out too. Don’t believe me?

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:36-38 NKJV)

Jesus was greatly troubled in the garden of Gethsemane–enough to sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). I believe this is God’s way of saying, “I get it. I understand your fears. It’s okay.”

It’s okay to be afraid sometimes.

Is that hard for you to read, lovely reader? It probably is, considering that most Christians are taught that fear is a sign of a lack of faith. Now I’m not saying that we should go around living in fear all the time, but God can actually take our fears and work wonders in them.

Jesus was with me that day I broke down. He made me ask myself, do I trust Him enough to open up about my fear? Am I ready for that kind of intimacy with God?

If you want to let go of your fears, then you’re going to have to let Jesus experience them with you. 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV)

How great is our God that He constantly wants to talk with us? Although a lot of times we try to figure out how we should feel and pray, God just wants us to come as we are.  We can only grow when we are honest and vulnerable, allowing God’s power and grace to work within us.

This is how fear becomes faith. 

I know that I am slowly growing in my faith and learning to trust Jesus. But in the meantime, I’m going to let Him into all of my human moments and feelings–even the messy ones.


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Laughing When You’re Afraid

I’ll never forget how terrified I was on my first airplane ride. At take off, as the plane raced down the runway and my mom described what was happening, my whole body tensed and my breath caught.

And just like that, we were up in the air. Suddenly I went from being on the verge of hyperventilating to laughing from euphoria. Flying is amazing!

This experience was only three months ago, and I have to admit that most of life is a lot like flying.

I’ve posted about my struggles with anxiety before, and I know that I’m not alone here.  As I begin the final phase of my college career, I am faced with the questions of student loans, career choices, continuing education, and how my health issues will affect all of this.

At times, the stress is suffocating. Have you ever been here before lovely reader?

I’m sure you have. We all face stress in some form or another. Whether it be school, work, family, health…the list is endless.

But what does the Bible say about stress and being a Godly woman?

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. (Proverbs 31:25 NLT)

That’s right. Stress isn’t really consistent with living as a woman of God. But this verse is kind of crazy in its boldness. When was the last time you stared down fear and laughed?

I know that the last time I laughed fear in the face, I was crammed into the window seat of a jet plane. And you know what? It was the most liberating feeling in the world. Here I am, 30,000 feet above the earth, totally out of control–but God held me there!

You see, there are moments in life that are completely out of our control. Things like diagnoses and job losses can throw us into panic mode because suddenly we lose our grip on life.

So how are we supposed to laugh like the infamous Proverbs 31 woman?

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. (Psalm 73:23-24 NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but I find this verse extremely comforting. No matter what we face or what sins we struggle with, God is always with us–holding our hand.

Faith does not take away our fears, but it gives us the power to overcome them by shifting our focus to who Jesus is.

Choosing Jesus means letting Him hold your hand and walk with you through this life–especially in the unknown. Leaning on God and trusting His Word is the only way we can find true peace in life’s storms.

When I pause to think back on my life so far, I can see how God has brought me through so many trials and unknowns. I know that He is faithful and will continue to lead me on my journey.

The next time you face the fear of one of life’s many uncertainties, remember that God is holding onto you–even if you can’t always feel His presence. He is there, and He is holding your hand.

When you look past your fears and focus on Jesus, you will find it easier to laugh in the present moment. Instead of being consumed by your worries, you will be drenched in love and grace.  And that, lovely reader, is the moment when your faith takes flight.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Connect with me on Instagram @fearfullywonderfullyme

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