Faith-Full Friday, Fear, Vanessa

Faith-Full Friday When Fear Meets Faith

Fear can do a number of things in our lives, including blind us to the truth.  One of my deepest fears has been that I am unlovable.

As a teenager, this fear led me to believe that no boy would ever love me so I decided that I needed to stick to the first guy who seemed to care about me, no matter what.

I was blinded to the truth that God’s word says He wants me.  I thought God’s love was nice, but I didn’t understand it’s fullness.  God’s love is perfect and better than anything that any human being could ever offer me.

I wanted to be someone’s sweetheart.  I got involved with a boy who wanted to call me much more than his sweetheart.  Despite my reservations, I followed through with his every request because fear whispered to me, “He’ll leave you if you say no.  No one else will ever want you.  Do what he asks.”

Before I could blink my eyes, I was skipping school, smoking cigarettes, having sex, cussing, and lying to my parents.  I was even kicked out of my home and living with my now fiancé at age 17.  A few times I tried to say no, but his response was even more scary than being alone.

Eight years later, after about 3 years of marriage, 2 kids, an affair, a one night stand, and several separations we finally decided to get a divorce.  Then the voice of fear grew even louder in my mind.  I was stained with guilt and sin, and fear shouted clearly to me that I was truly unlovable.  If no one wanted me before, who would want me now?

I was blinded to the truth that Jesus Christ had already given his life to wash my stains away.

 I knew with my mind, but not my heart, every truth that I was ignoring.  My problem was a lack of faith.  I felt that God just wasn’t enough to overcome the trouble in my life.  I even yelled at God one time, “You’re just not big enough!  I don’t know if I can trust you!”

As I continued to live in fear rather than faith I decided to take a guy up on an offer to date me.  It was just a week after I’d separated from my husband, but he was interested, and I didn’t think time to heal was quite as important as making sure he remained interested.  I really wanted to be better and choose better this time.  I knew I needed a man who would provide for me and I yearned for security, so I decided the most important criteria in a man was his job. I didn’t ever want to live in government housing again or have to constantly rely on friends and family to pay my bills.

Not only was this man interested, but he had a job!  JACKPOT!!  I had a really good feeling about this.  There was just one problem.  His English speaking skills weren’t great.  One day he told me he was illegal, but I thought he was confused about the terms illegal and legal because he had a state issued license.  There were other red flags about this relationship, but I ignored them all.  The only thing that mattered was that he had a job.

One day I realized I had gotten myself into another broken relationship.  I considered breaking up with him, but the fear that seized me at that moment lead me to make a completely irrational decision. Instead of breaking up, I choose to alleviate the guilt of living with him by marrying him that very day at our county courthouse.  I hoped things would change once I was his wife.

2 years later, after a bought with mental illness, countless episodes of screaming, late nights searching for my husband in bars, and broken items on the walls of our home, I found myself in a Celebrate Recovery Step Study.  I’d gone to my pastor for marital advice, and he had suggested I consider joining a step study.

God began a redeeming work in my heart and mind and eventually my marriage through that step study.  I named my struggles as fear and trust.  I began working through my painful past and learning why I had these struggles.  In the midst of this step study God spoke so clearly to me.

My husband and I were in the process of fixing his immigration issues.  He’d since lost his license and I was driving him everywhere with two small children in tow.  We often sat for hours outside waiting on him to be finished with work.  I spent those hours listening to Christian radio programs and completing my step study questions.  God began to change my heart.

In order to fix my husband’s papers, he would need to return to his home country and be banned from the United States for 10 years.  We would file a special petition to ask the US to pardon him.  We had it all planned out.  The lawyer had said it might take 2 years to finish up the petition.  The children and I would stay in our home while my husband went to Mexico.  Several members of our small group at church had offered to help sponsor us during that time.

Then God spoke to me and said, “Go with him.  It is not good for man to be alone.”  From the moment we shared our new plan with others we began to encounter resistance from well meaning friends and family who were fearful for us.  Fearful for our safety.  Fearful for our financial well-being.  Fearful about our children.

In truth it was a scary plan, and there were plenty of things to be fearful of.  Yet God’s plan was to increase my faith.  He wanted me to know what it was like to trust Him.  He wanted to release me from the bondage of fear.

God called us to move to Las Cruces, NM.  Thanks to some of the concerns that our family had shared with us, I flew to El Paso to stay with my friend for 8 days before our move.  In those days, I prayed for God to provide two things for me: a home and a church.  Friends he provided both!  I signed a lease and put down a deposit just before getting on the airplane to return home and sell my belongings.  After the sale we packed up our three children and everything we still owned in our minivan and headed West.

We had no jobs and no idea how the details would play out, but for the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid.  God used these words in Isaiah to teach me that he was guiding my every step:

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

This season in my life was over flowing with joy and excitement. I lived in New Mexico for the very best 13 months of my life.  During those months, my husband did return to Mexico.  He was banned from the United States for 10 years, and I completed the paperwork we needed to get him back into the United States legally.  After just seven months, all glory to God, my husband returned to the United States with the proper immigration papers!

Even though my faith has grown immensely, I still struggle with fear.  If you catch me on any given day I can share with you a host of fears I’m currently dealing with.  Living fearless hasn’t meant that I don’t encounter fears or that they don’t grip me from time to time.  Living fearless has meant I’ve learned to let my faith meet my fears.  I learned to recite the scriptures I’ve memorized when fear stands in my way.  I’ve learned to call on God who fights my battles for me.  When fears creep in and I can’t kick them on my own, I call my prayer warriors and we fight together.

I imagine I’ll be plagued by fear for the remainder of my life, but now I know how to stand in faith.  I know who I can trust, and now I can say my God is absolutely ENOUGH!  My God is bigger than any giant I face.  My God is greater than any storm that rages.  My God commands the sun and the moon and the stars.  Most importantly, my God loves me with the most perfect, unending love and he has shown me that I am enough for Him.

Could I pray for you today?

Holy Spirit,

We praise you because you alone are worthy of our praise.  You raised the Son and set him free.  You count every tear we cry and hear every prayer we offer.  You listen and you love when we are absolutely unlovable.  Father, we don’t understand all there is to know about you.  You are too big for us to know all of you, but I ask that you would open our eyes to see more of you.  May we recognize your voice and hear it more clearly than our enemy’s voice.  Father increase our faith so we may live lives that produce the fruit of the gospel shared.  Lord let us love you well.  Amen

Share His Peace
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