“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:…” – Philippians 1:6
Dear younger self,
You do not know this but you are like a child who has fallen into a briar patch of wild roses, now pierced with a hundred tiny thorns, fears, deceptions, all deeply embedded in your flesh.
You do not know that the Great Physician shall come along one day and begin to pluck them out, one by one. You will not like it much, this daily confrontation with a new fear, but He came to set the captives free, to restore what was stolen, to make new creature.
There are 365 fear nots in the bible, one for every day of the year or so they say, and you with your shoes on the floor by your bed, your keys under your pillow least you must flee in the middle of the night, have no idea how much fear rules your entire life. You do not see it, you do not even feel it anymore, but it lurks beneath the surface as invisible to your eye as all those tiny thorns.
You learned how to be prepared, how to anticipate the bad things, how to protect yourself. You adapted, a thousand coping skills springing up to get you through the chaos, the unpredictability, the uncertainty, the fear.
You have normalized it all, you being such a survivor, you just think you are being prepared, protecting yourself in the event of a disaster, being responsible, performing dozens of rituals designed to keep the dark things at bay. You are actually afraid of everything, afraid of living, afraid of dying, but most of all afraid to hope, afraid to believe, afraid to trust, afraid to dream. Don’t even go there least someone come along and snatch it all away.
Completely ruled by fear and it must be healed, one thorn at a time, because if you are ruled by fear, you simply cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve Him. You will answer to the fear every time and you won’t even know it, you’ll simply avoid the scary things, step past them carefully, cover your eyes. Fear is a prison.
“Perfect love casts out fear,” but you do not know that yet, those are just flat, two-dimensional words on a page. Nor do you understand that confronting fears is a messy business, that you must break and shatter into a million pieces, like flesh must be torn to free those thorns.
You will snarl out those words with such bitter cynicism, perfect love casts out fear, but how patient your Heavenly Father will be with you, how persistent He will be about plucking out those thorns least they fester and grow.
Dear younger self, I cannot give you anything, because you have not yet learned how to trust, so my words will just fall on deaf ears. I cannot ease your path, I cannot prevent your suffering. You already know you are in Good Hands, the best hands of all, and when everything goes dark you will hang onto that for dear life, you will fight for trust every step of the way. When He is all you have, He is all you need, and you will come to know the truth of that.
You will learn to laugh again and to cry again, and He will show you all those thorns He has plucked out of you, and you will surrender each and every one, enough to build a crown, a crown of thorns that He once wore on your behalf.
Those of us who have truly fallen into the briar patch, cannot brag of our own abilities to confront our own fears, cannot claim to have remade our own selves, because we know all too well how the human heart really copes, how, if left to our own devices, we would be busy pouring everything we could into the abyss of our souls, and layering scar tissue over festering wounds, ruled by dozens of fears we cannot even see.
Oh, but how we can now boast in the Lord and testify to His goodness!
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”– 2 Timothy 1:7.