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Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

Love is a word that seems to be so easily dismissed in my brain. Love is one of those convoluted words that seem to carry so many different levels of meaning. I hear love being tossed out all the time. We use it to describe things we like. We use love at the end of conversations and family gatherings. We also use love as a description word that translates into deep meaning.

Love runs deep in me

I would describe myself as someone who loves deeply. I value the word love very much. I do not toss that word out flippantly. I want to be a person who loves deeply. I want to show love to others in a way that they never knew was possible. Honestly, I love loving.

However, there resides a dark place in me that can’t seem to grasp reciprocated love. I dismiss love so quickly that it just ricochets off my guarded heart. As I find great joy in loving others, I see myself as unlovable. Some reasons because that has been the message told to me, and some my own self perception from life. When someone tells me that they love me the words seem to echo without a place to land inside of me.

Dismissing love serves two purposes in my life.

The first comes from the core of knowing pain and wounds that run deep in me. I have experienced grief from loss of relationships I valued greatly. In my efforts to guard against pain, feeling loved has little room to take root. To allow love to take root in me would mean risking pain. Some where along this road of grief I traded in my heart, desperate to know love, for safety.

The second purpose is an extension of the first. Experiencing deep loss, and relational wounds, has rocked my self-perception. In the midst of that pain, I believe in the lie that says, “I am not enough” and “I am not worth loving.” My skewed self-perception and relational wounds have told me that I only worth conditional love at best. Those lies have dictated many courses in my journey.

In the past couple of years, I have learned that the only way to dispel a lie is with truth. Truth has a louder voice than the lie. Truth is sustaining where as lies require me to anchor them. There is only one who has claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life.

Truth tells me that I am loved. Truth states that we know love “because he first loved us.” Love laid down his whole life so that the vail of my own self-perception would be torn in two.

I am still in a place of wrestling through doubt that the word love applies to me. I still experience pain where that message seems true.

I have known glimpses of love. I say glimpses because I hold loosely to those moments. Fear still has its grip on me. Everyday I pray for perfect love to drive out all my fear. One day I will know in my heart, and not just my head, that I am worth love. Until then, “he is working on me.

How do you respond to love?

What risks come with love for you?

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I often use the phrase, “I’m working on it” when referring to my heart. I am learning that in reality I use this phrase as a shield to guard against actually having to confront my messy heart.

I used this phrase recently, and afterward I had to ask myself the question, “am I really working on it?” I can play this card as a safeguard – as if saying, “I’m working on it” lets me off the hook for responding out of my fears. By hiding behind “working on it,” I give my fears permission to take root in me.

The reality is that our mess is really hard to work on. It takes courage to confront our own hearts. My heart resembles a crater field after the dust has settled from battle. It displays the wounds of life. I have craters with other people’s names on them. I also have holes that echo the natural consequences of my unwise decisions. I get overwhelmed when staring at all the craters in my heart. I have also experienced seasons of ignoring my wounds and walking away to find comfort elsewhere.

The false advertising of life is that pursuing comfort elsewhere does not add wounds to the already broken heart.

As the wounds of my heart run deep, they manifest in different masked ways. If feels scary to confront them. Saying it out loud makes them more real.

The foundation of my crater field happened in high school when the affair of my father came out. The news shattered my world and brought on a deep level of pain I never knew could be reached. This grief sowed seeds of real fear in the core of my heart. These seeds manifest themselves in ways I am aware of as well as in ways I am still learning to identify.

I struggle with abandonment in paralyzing and infuriating ways. I guard my heart so tight that pain can’t find a way in. This fear paralyzes me from taking risks to experience real life and real intimacy.

I also fear being replaced all the time. I fear intimacy as it forces me into places that require the risk of being vulnerable and my heart exposed. I fear being a “meantime” friend as if it were only a matter of time before my friends find someone better than me. I am not using “better” in a prideful way, but voicing my deep insecurity that keeps my heart on lock down. I hate the nagging feeling of always holding my breath in waiting. I even imagine, and play out in my head, being left by the other person as a way to prepare myself for pain. By actively staying in this place of fear, I voluntarily place the shackles on my life of being enslaved to those fears.

I hate this long standing pattern of life for me. God has already done a ton of healing in me. I can honestly say that I am more whole than I used to be. It is a conscious effort to choose to trust people. I am trying to get used to sitting in a place of discomfort and lack of control. That place is terrifying for me.

There’s still the question of what if someone did decide to leave? This is a real possibility. I still grieve the loss of some really close friendships. It is even more of a possibility as our culture moves further away from commitment.

God is my redeemer. He promises that he “began a good work in me and carries it on to completion.” I have now edited my comfort phrase from “I’m working on it” to “He’s working on me.” I cannot heal my own heart. God is gentle as he waits for me to surrender my white flag to him. God has been redirecting my life out of the desert. I have spent too many weeks/months/years living life there.

Instead of adding bricks to the Great Wall of me, I desire to begin surrendering myself to him. Hillsong has a great song with lyrics that state,“rid me of myself, I belong to you…lead me to the cross.” This is my hard prayer to pray.

What are you “working on?”

How is He working on you?

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About a month ago my mom and I were going through some childhood pictures of me. I laughed so hard at how AWEFUL my hair looked throughout the school picture years. Let’s just say I thought I could rock a mullet in middle school.

As we were sitting there looking through these pictures I said, “Mom! What’s going on with my hair!? You didn’t think I should’ve fixed that!?” She lovingly looked at me and said, “Tracee, sometimes you just gotta pick your battles.

Her response got me thinking about how we “pick our battles.

Picking your battles falls under the broad umbrella of how we respond to conflict. We pick our battles because some conflicts seem smaller and more trivial to engage in. Not everything needs to be addressed.

When it comes to dealing with conflict, we all seem to have this internal scale where we place the value of each personal Issue. Conflicts we would consider personal Issues go through a quick mental filter to which we ask ourselves the question, “is this worth it?”

The problem with our internal value scales is that they do not always mirror our responses.

For example, some people can be considered “nitpickers” in that they confront the majority of their smaller trivial matters. There are also those who really hate confrontation and keep their bigger conflicts suppressed. Neither group is accurately displaying their value scale.

I do believe that there is some wisdom in the saying. Not every issue, like my middle school mullet, needs to be confronted. However, there is a problem when we hide behind that phrase as an excuse to not deal with the hard stuff.

There will also be times when you will enter into conflict where the issue is not a big deal to you, but it is for the other person, or vice versa. I encourage you to still engage. Do not immediately dismiss what you may not value as much. It takes a lot of risk to start a confrontational conversation. Be gentle and patient. Listen to the heart. It matters.

We are messy people who affect each other. We need to commit to engaging in the hard parts of working it out.

Conflict is never fun under any circumstance. It’s painful. But the hope is that by engaging in the struggle, resolution is attained.

Pick your battles in a way that fights for and through the hard stuff. You matter. You are worth the fight.

Do you fear conflict?

How do you pick your battles?

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I have been marinating on this verse from Proverbs 29, “fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

There are so many things that surface for me regarding the word “fear.” I wouldn’t consider myself a fearful person. I am not afraid of heights, spiders (maybe a little), snakes, bugs, public speaking, and I don’t think I was born with the embarrassment gene. When it came to the game Truth or Dare, I always chose dare. I love engaging in things in which adrenaline turns my voice into a silent expression of awe.

Sky diving, didn’t free fall long enough.

Bungee jumping, the taller the drop the better.

Great White shark diving, first in the water.

But what about those little fears that are harder to identify? What about those things you catch glimpses of that leave you conflicted?

As I read this proverb, I started to think through and ask myself the question of what are my fears? I discovered that my fears are wrapped up in the things around me. I can safely say that the root of all my pride filled moments, anger, and conflict, resides a hidden fear in me.

I am broken and those broken parts in me are messy.

The masks of fear in me look like not knowing or feeling like I am enough. I struggle with feeling like I am not good enough or the fear of not having anything good to offer. I greatly crave wanting to offer something worthwhile and great. I fear accpetance in certain groups of people. I fear feeling foolish or stupid.

On this road of mine, I have experienced pain and wounds. Anyone who has experienced pain would love to guard against ever feeling that level of pain again – or any pain for that matter. I am learning to recognize how that fear manifests itself in me.

I would love to trust more easily without the small voice of doubt. Yet that is the fear that grips tightest in me. It is a good thing that the rest of the verse talks about the solution to fear, trusting in Him. Sometimes I wish everything wasn’t in the catagorey of “life-long process.”

How are you fears doing?

Do you know what your fears are?

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I am so passionate about the topic of identity. I could talk about this topic all day long. You want to see me get fired up, let’s talk about identity.

Call it my protective nature, or just hunger for truth to be known.

Every human being goes through the wrestling process of trying to figure their identity. High school is when we start to say, “huh, I am not my parents, I don’t’ want to be my parents, so who am I?” This is when the filter of challenges to our identity begins.

Our identity can be challenged but never changed.

The misconception about identity is that it changes. The truth about identity is that it is a fact; a fact that is unchanging regardless of any conditions.

What this means is that we all have an identity that never changes regardless of any conditions or circumstances.

Too many people associate their identities with their skills set. Our culture has made the questions of “who we are” and “what we do,” interchangeable. This is a huge misconception. It enables the deception that our identities depend on us, and our skills.

What we do is NOT who we are!

What we do is God’s way of displaying who he is in different forms. However, before we were born we all enter the world with an identity that is never changing. We are all his beloved children. We are his. We are loved and considered worth dying for. This never changes.

Our identity never changes regardless of conditions or circumstances. Identity can only be challenged.

I have learned that my frustrations and insecurities are usually signs that my identity is being challenged. God cares so much about me to allow frustration so that I don’t settle on what is untrue. Insecurities I have about my self-worth are challenges to my identity. I am glad that God does not let me stay in my insecurities, but challenges back with truth.

Insecurities are great signs that our identity is being challenged. I am so grateful that God is faithful to always bring me back to his truth that I am already spoke for by him.

The world will always try and tell you who you are. Always. Messages that challenge our identity bombard our minds and hearts all day. Once we understand that our identity is unchangeable, it takes the weight the messages we are challenged with everyday.

What challenges your identity?

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I loved listening to stories growing up. I love them still. There is life in the form of story. My imagination would run away with me listening to illustrations and tales of life being learned.

I am a very visual person. I see so much through the eyes of story. I hear truth through story. I see between the lines of what is not being said.

I have understood so much truth reading through stories of the bible. My heart has been camping out in one in particular.

I have been asking God for wisdom and revelation for my heart to know him better, but I was not ready for an immediate response.

Jesus tells a story to a group of local leaders that not only captures my heart, but unveils her fears as well.  

In Luke 14, Jesus is eating at the house of one of the prominent religious leaders. He tells them the story that introduces real humility, as well as, redefines honor for their lives. Jesus tells them that when invited to a wedding feast, do not assume the place of honor or someone more distinguished then you might have been invited. In humiliation, the host would have to ask you to give up your seat. So when you go to a wedding feast take the lowest place, so when your host comes, he can move you up to a better seat.

This story has pierced my heart. God has shown me my own heart through this story. As I attempt to unpack my heart, please know that I am not translating the story in the actual context it was meant for, but a story that illustrates me.

You see, I have deep fears in my life. Part of my fears depth comes from early family brokenness that still leaves me winded. Other parts are the make-up of life’s wounds and broken trust.

I find my lost heart in this story as I fear so much being replaceable. I fear being a meantime friend until someone better comes along. One lie I struggle to get off of repeat says, “Tracee, you are only good enough until…” Sadly, I have known too much of the “until” places in my life. I have been shown the message of replaceable with my heart.

Naturally my fears surface the most in deep and intimate friendships. When the “place of honor” is invited by my closest friends, I sit and wait, expectant to be moved. I am like that person who has their own row on an airplane, watching to see if the next passenger boarding will ask me to move over.

I sit, fearful of humiliation.

There are times I wrongly defend that place. Trust is dismissed and manipulation takes over. Not saying it’s my finest hour, but it’s real.

The flip side of waiting fearful is dismissing the place of honor all together. Sometimes to risk sitting in that place is so fearful that I can dismiss it all together. I can seatbelt myself into the lowest place and dismiss my loved one’s heart for me.

Dismissing the place of honor is crushing to those who want you in it. Love and trust have no place when that invitation is dismissed. The fruit of defending the lowest place is an unquenchable need to be reminded you are more.

There is no room for faith and trust in fear. Fear paralyzes and bonds, while risking to trust provides freedom. At least that is the hope.

I am working on my fears now that I see them a little bit more clearly. God is gentle and patient with me.

Any stories that are showing you your heart these days?

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Faith is one of those things that require a response, an expression of our life behind it. If I were to say I wasn’t scared of the dark, but constantly slept with a night light on, my life would not back up that statement.

Faith requires expression.

The truth of my life, and the story it’s telling, really should back up what I believe. Jesus asks us all to answer the question of, “who do you say I am?” Our answer should be expressed in our lives. We should look and sound different because of faith.

I value very much that people’s words and actions resemble one another. I am not saying I am perfect at this, but I do value it a lot.

Our lives are meant to look and sound different after God has entered in.

I wish I could say that my life looks different. I constantly teeter back and forth between responding in faith and dismissing it all together. I have fears that paralyze me and keep God at a seemingly controlled distance.

Faith without expression makes no difference.

I have lots of areas that speak more of fear than faith. I still struggle with surrendering areas of control to him. I have had my own back for so long that it’s hard to trust him with those areas. I have fear that I respond, project, and see through the lenses out of in me. It is exhausting. It is meant to me.

I know I am not the only on with this battle. Abraham trusted God, but still slept with his servant Hagar. Moses trusted what God was going to do, but Aaron had to speak for him. David responded in faith with Goliath, but ran at the threat of Saul.

We all have our fear responses that creep in.

Fear nullifies faith. Fear dismisses faith.

I spend days weeping over this battle in me. I hate that I respond out of my fear. I hate how it affects my relationship with God and others. I hate the toll it takes on both. I am learning to surrender my fears. I am learning to trust more than respond out of them. It is a daily battle.

I hate the exposure in our lives that creates and enables fears. I hate that our hearts have been wounded and walls of fear have served as replacements. That is not how life is meant to be known.

God is redeeming my places of fear. It takes me responding out of faith and not fear. Choosing to respond out of faith is still more of a conscious choice than not. He is gentle and patient.

My faith and fears collide. Where are yours?

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