I was anxious to have my daughter and son-in-law over for breakfast. The grandkids would be over too and I was looking forward to squeezing them and planting wet kisses on their soft cheeks. It wasn’t often that they came over for an early morning breakfast. I had dug out an old recipe for homemade buttermilk pancakes. The table was already set and the sausage was warming in the oven. They would be arriving any time.
My concern over the flakiness of the pancakes soon faded as I watched their van come down the driveway. It came to a slow stop just outside the kitchen window. I knew something was wrong and I was overcome by fear. Certainly, I would not have to hear bits of bad news…or would it be the familiar dreaded news again? It appeared that they were arguing but I could not tell for sure. I just wondered why they were not coming in and the feelings of fear continued to mount. Moments passed before the kitchen door opened…I could feel tension in the air. The news I had feared would haunt me again, “Mom, we relapsed again last night.” I felt as though my legs would buckle and it was all I could do to stand. The news was too much. How could I go through this again? I had thought they were doing better, but deep down, did I really believe that? I had high hopes.
We all sat down to eat, trying to pretend that it would be okay and that we could get through this again. I wished I could have bragged about how great the pancakes were and I pretended to enjoy them but nothing was further from my mind. It was all I could do to keep the bites from coming back up my throat. We had to get through this. We were all affected, even the three babies looking back at me from behind plates of half eaten pancakes. They had no idea of the severity of the situation and the thought of it broke my heart. I couldn’t stop the questions from invading my every thought. Did they know what they were about to endure again? How were they going to get through this yet one more time? Why did they have to go through this? Would they be safe? Would they be exposed to the drug abuse? Since their parents had relapsed, would life go back to what it was for them the first time it had happened? A million questions and not one answer. Fear and anxiety robbed me of my senses and all I wanted to do was jump up and run as fast as I could. I had to get away but all I could do was sit…I was angry. I was numb.
Fear, what a horrible thing. In my opinion, there is no other feeling that could be worse. It had claimed me for many years and I could not overcome it. I had feared many things. I feared for my kids as they were growing up; I worried about finances, stresses over my job. But nothing could compare to this. How could my child, one who I loved so much and one who I had invested so much time in, go so astray? Was it my fault? What did I do wrong? Had I not instilled God’s word into her heart as good as I could have? Would my child become so addicted that the addiction would take her away from me? Feelings of failure and the what-ifs haunted me. I was now on a journey of torment, brought upon by my own sin of unbelief. I had to let go of it, I could not fix it. All of the worry was getting me nowhere. It was destroying my spirit and robbing my joy. God was the only one who could take care of it but I was not allowing Him to do that.
Fears had driven me into a spiritually dry place and it was hard to even pray. I often opened my Bible at night and placed it upon my belly as I tried to sleep. Although scripture seemed to run together in my mind and I had a hard time focusing upon it, I felt comfort that upon my belly was the sword of the spirit. It was a protection and a huge comfort for me.
A lot has changed since then. I have learned that you cannot live in fear and in faith at the same time. They are enemies. Fear does not work and it gives you no relief. When we bask in fear and worry, we block the blessings that God has for us. When we worry, we meditate on fearful things and we feed them, fuel the fire so-to-speak. When we feed them, they grow and soon our worries are out of control and are far greater than our minds can safely endure. We instead need to focus on the promises of God and meditate on them day and night. We can cast our fears on Jesus, realizing that He is the only one who can make a difference and the only one who can fix the problems and stresses in our life. We need to believe that God does have everything under control.
Now, when worries come my way and when fear tries to settle in, I just begin to praise the Lord, the maker of the universe and the lover of my soul. When I sing, sometimes to myself or sometimes quietly, I tell God how great He is and thank Him for all the things He has done for me. I choose not to fear and it is a conscious decision on my part. My human side tries to hold on to the fear but I must let it go. Although at times it is difficult to praise – a real sacrifice – but it’s the key to a sound mind. Are these the sacrifices of praise that the Bible talks about? We must know too that Satan will distract us because he knows that God delights in the praises of His people.
God is so big and ready to help. He just waits for us to ask. But we so often hold on to our problems, not trusting God to help us. It is unbelief and it grieves God’s heart. This is something I don’t want to ever do again. I’m learning to totally depend on God, and to trust Him in times of despair. I can’t say I am one hundred percent “cured” and that I don’t fear on occasion, but I have learned to turn it over to God and I do not allow myself to meditate on those fearful things for long. What a comfort it is for me to know that God is always with me. He sees my hurts, my disappointments, and feels my broken heart.
Wow, what kind of friend is that?
Psalms 46.11 (KJV) says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Also, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6 NIV). Lord, keep my mind safe and bring me peace! I love Psalms 16:11 (NIV) where David says “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” That is where I want to be. If I am there in God’s presence and full of joy, there is no room for fear. Praise be to God, my Rock and my Fortress.
Josephine Turnbeck is a financial officer and a mother of two. She enjoys spending time with her famly, working in the yard, and reading a book by the comfort of a warm fire. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.