Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

Tag: fear (page 1 of 2)

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.


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One Semester~A Story of Faith Overcoming Fear

The following is a guest post by the talented blogger Courtney of 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl. I hope you enjoy her creative story on how God used her to reach a lost fellow student.


The story below is based heavily on my own experience at a local state college. While names have been changed for privacy purposes, the accounts described are true, and it speaks of how I believe God chose to use me during my semester at my former college. I pray that you can be inspired and encouraged, and that this story inspires you to live boldly for Christ.

 Dear God,

Remember what I wrote in my diary five years ago–about how I needed to go to Greensburg State College to reach someone for you? Well, over this past semester, I think I finally figured out who it was.

Liam Anderson.

Somehow I knew. Five years ago, when I was only thirteen years old, I knew that someone at Greensburg needed to hear about Jesus. I knew you were calling me there–just like how you called Jonah to go to Nineveh in the Old Testament.

All that was missing was the face and name. Somehow, in an event that could only be explained in the language of divine intervention, you had a plan for me to share the good news of your love and grace with a fellow classmate.

Who would have thought it would be Liam, the one guy in class who was openly involved in Wicca, and a self-proclaimed witch?

I certainly didn’t know–at least not at first. I remember the fear that washed over me when he gave a speech about his beliefs, which served as a stark contrast to my own Christian faith. I’ll be honest, I had one very distinct feeling in the midst of it. A feeling that I rarely seem to have around other people.

Fear.

Like Jonah, my instinct was to run–quite literally even, as I stood outside the classroom in the following week, very tempted to ditch class–something that I have never done before in my entire life. But this felt different, like a battle between darkness and light. A battle between two very different sides of the spiritual realm.

You gave me the courage to go back–to face my fear head on. I talked to pretty much every Christian I knew about it–my pastor’s wife, my closest friends, my parents…in a battle between fear and faith, I thought for certain that fear was going to win. But, it didn’t. Faith won–faith had the last word.

Due to the classroom setup and the way that the seats were positioned, I had the opportunity to talk to Liam on more than one occasion. I held on tightly to my faith and got up the courage to talk to someone from a very different belief system and worldview. In the midst of it, you taught me something that I should have realized all along.

Liam is a person–a person who is undoubtedly on the wrong path, but a person nonetheless. You formed him with the same hands that crafted the most devout believers on the planet. He is someone you care about–someone you’re pursuing even as I write this. As the semester continued, I began to see the many ways that you’ve gifted him. I began to see past the sin to the heart of a very sincere person, who had the capacity to make a mark for you, if he only knew you.

But there have been signs you’re doing something powerful in his life, and all this time you were using me to help plant a seed. Two weeks ago, when I gave a speech, incorporating Bible verses as I spoke, I caught him nodding–as if something about the verses resonated with something deep inside of him. He’s been surrounded by Christians this whole semester, and was sitting right up front when another girl mustered up the courage to read straight from the Bible in class.

Not to mention that dream that I had about a month ago–the one where I ran into him and he announced that he became a Christian. After that, I have an unexplainable peace about the situation–a strange sort of knowing that I’ll see him in Heaven someday. His words on the last day of class served as further confirmation of this: “I’ll see you around.”

Maybe not at Greensburg, as I’ve recently made the decision to transfer to a school that will be better fit for my degree and career, but I believe I will see him again someday. I believe that you’re leading him to you–and that my urgency to go to Greensburg, even for just one semester, was a chapter in the story that you’re writing in his life.

I don’t know what you have in store for the rest of my life or for the lives of my former classmates at Greensburg, but I know you have good plans for all those who earnestly seek you. I can trust you with my story because you’ve already written itfrom my first inkling of my mission to go there, to the last day of my semester, to the time you will call me home. You have a story.

And because of this I can have faith–a faith that’s big enough to overcome any fear.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).


I hope you like this post! For more writing by Courtney, check out her blog here.

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