fear

Posts tagged in

perfect love casts out fear
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear (Stacey’s Story)

Many evils confront the (consistently) righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:19

“You are nobody! You will always be nobody! No man will ever want you! You are crazy! It’s all your fault!” These are actual words I have heard growing up and in relationships. It seemed no matter where or who I turned to, the end results would be the same; a deep wound to the soul. So desperately longing to be loved, accepted, validated, I would subconsciously seek out relationships that would only solidify my already low image of myself.

Oh, I didn’t do this on purpose, mind you. But, when you have grown up with rejection, it does attach itself to you throughout your life, until something changes. The residue of rejection will torment you until God intervenes and you make the choice to accept His love and help.

I didn’t grow up in a church. There were a couple times I remember my aunt taking us to church for Vacation Bible School, but I never knew the Lord. The idea of a Jesus out there that could love me was hard for me to grasp. Not even my own father could love me, and if a heavenly Father, God, was anything like my earthly father, then surely He must be an angry, unapproachable, and a disappointed God of wrath too.

It is true, our first relationship with our father does shape how we view our Heavenly Father. Sadly, the representation here on earth does not always nurture a true image of a Father’s love.

This is what rejection does to you:

  • It causes you to hide.
  • It causes you to lie.
  • It causes you to fear.
  • It cause you to not trust.
  • It causes you to not know your own identity.

As a young runaway, I learned how to be whoever I needed to be in the given moment. It was a survival tactic. I had so many aliases, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Living on the street, then cocktail waitressing in NYC at the age of 15, I met some shady characters. I also met some good people. You know, we do not always recognize the hand of God on us, or His protection, at the time. It is usually a hindsight, when we look back and wonder how we even survived.

Funny, the very thing I was running from, I ran right to. I ran from an abusive father right into a marriage with an abusive man. Having been on my own, mostly since the age of 12, I didn’t know what it was to be a real woman. I didn’t know what a healthy relationship looked like. I had my “idea” of what I wanted, I just didn’t know how to get there. I believe inside I didn’t believe I deserved anything better than to be beat down, abused, abandoned, rejected, cheated on, and used. I did not know what love looked like.

His Word says, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].” 1 John 4:18 (AMP) I was covered in fear.

We all have a past, we come from different walks of life, different experiences, and most of us carry deep wounds that pierce even to the soul. The depth of the wounds can blind us to truth, cloud our vision, and distort our minds. But God!

I could probably write page after page of everywhere I have been, what I have done, or has been done to me. We could sit here and swap war stories all day, no doubt. But, I would much rather give God glory, because I was not an easy case, I was deeply wounded, scared, and in hiding.

Yet, He reached down and pulled me up. He did this, not because I was looking for Him, but because He was looking for me. What He has done for me, He will do for you.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 12:11

Of course, if I had a choice, I would have written a better life story. But, I do not regret one experience, because had I not experienced what I have, I may not be where I am now. I would not have the ministry I have now. Of course there are still some residual effects, but He is delivering me and healing me from it all.

I met Jesus when I was in my early thirties. It was no gradual introduction, either. I believe He speaks to us in a way He knows we will understand. He meets us right where we are. In our mess, He is right there.

He grabbed me, opened my eyes to see Him, loved on me, and changed me from the inside out. He did such a mighty move inside of me, I looked in the mirror and expected to see Him staring right back at me.

Where I was once surrounded by darkness, He shone His light. Nature was more beautiful, the sky was bluer, He gave me a love for people, and a hunger for His Word. In short, I could not get enough of Him. He planted me in a home church that mentored me and helped me to grow.

perfect love casts out fear

Fast forward… He called me as an Evangelist. I was in ministry and doing a good work for Him. It would be easy to think if you are doing a good work for Him and trusting Him everything would be easy, right? I mean, after all, I am a Spirit filled believer, chasing after His heart, seeking to do His will and believing every Word He spoke. But, there is a reason He has told us to pick up our cross… a cross is a heavy thing to carry. A cross is what He hung from. A cross signifies death. And there is death in carrying the cross, it is a death to yourself, to the world, and to what once held you in bondage. There were times I felt utterly alone and the only consolation I had was clinging to His promise He would never leave me.

Being saved and in ministry did not save my marriage. I am not saying it was His will for my marriage to end. But we all have a free will, don’t we. His love is unconditional and unending. There may be natural consequences to our choices, but He is not angry with us, His children. It seemed the closer I got to Him the more hell was raining down on me. The attacks were very real and came from those I loved dearly.

I remember one evening, looking into the night sky and crying out to Him. “God! Are You even out there?!” I was broken and hurting. I was tired of loss. I had no one else to turn to, I had only Him, and I wanted Him to intervene and make things all better. I was asking the wrong questions. I was asking Him to change my circumstances, I should have been asking Him to change me. So, I yell out, “God! Are You even out there?!” and immediately He answered, “I am right here.”

Ah, yes, He is right here. And with Him is peace that passes all understanding. The kind of peace that says, I do not know why things are the way they are, and I do not know what the future holds, but I do trust You have it all under control, I trust You.

Salvation is the greatest gift and testimony we could have. The testimony is, while we were far away from God He sent His Son to reconcile us and draw us close. Throughout our walk with Him in the flesh that dies daily, He does do marvelous works in and through us. His Word promises, He will never leave us or forsake us. Though the world rejects you, though those who you love dearly and trusted may abandon you, He never will. And how can we know this unless we experience it?

There have been many times the demon of rejection will come knocking on my door and I have to resist it. Perfect love cast out all fear takes on a new meaning when you understand His love is perfect. When we truly know and believe how much He loves us then we will not have to fear the loss of anything or anyone in this temporal life here. We will find true freedom in His love to know who we are in Him and what our calling is.

Of course I have not arrived to complete healing. The wounds from the past are deep. He takes me step by step, glory to glory, and together He and I unearth the wounds and He says, “Do not be afraid, I am going to walk with you through this.”

Romans 8:28 has become my life verse. For I know all things will work together for my good, because I love Him and I have been called according to His purpose. The key word is HIS PURPOSE. Not my purpose, His purpose. Think about that. We partner with Him for His purpose. He chose us!

There is a season for everything. We have seasons of rest and then we have seasons where we have to do battle and resist. We must remember, the battle is not ours, but it is His. We have to trust He will fight for us, protect us, and when we have gone through the fire we will come forth as gold.

Do not be ashamed of where you have been, or where you came from. Your past does not dictate your future. Once you have received Him you are a new creation. Only He is able to heal and deliver. Only through Him do we find wholeness, nothing lacking.

How wonderful that God, creator of all things, who has no beginning and no end, chose us! He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. The God who parted the red sea will go before you and make your path straight.

You are loved by Him, highly favored by Him, and in Him there is no shame.

Be Free & Stay Free

Complete Surrender

I can’t remember a day where I didn’t know who Jesus was.

I prayed “the prayer” kneeling down on the rock hearth of our fireplace when I was six years old, and I know the Lord honored that prayer, but let’s be real, here. The impetus was the argument I had with my older sister not thirty minutes prior about the status of Jesus occupying space in my heart. She said no, I said yes, and as all of us with siblings know, I would rather have died a thousand deaths than admit she was right. So I thought I better just make really sure she wasn’t right.

Up to the age of thirteen or thereabouts, I understood Christianity as a ticket to Heaven and church as the place where all my best friends were. I’m ashamed to say that our primary accomplishment was tormenting the adults who so graciously served us in the children’s ministry. There are a few out there who deserve some sort of medal. (Dr. J, I’m looking at you.) Until one night, perched on the edge of my mother’s bed, in a moment where the Kingdom of Heaven opened up a door in the suburbs of Atlanta.

In reading the Word, about the Word, the alchemy of Christ on the cross changed the composition of my heart. In that moment, I began to want more, to know more.

High school was rough.

For the better part of two years, I hid in the library. For thirty precious minutes in the midst of my day I would tarry there with the piles of books. It was a brief respite from the torture of eighth and ninth grade, the years when I would step off the bus in tears, unable to navigate the halls without torment, to sit through a class without snickers. I hovered there, peeking into the unchanging lives of beloved characters. Virtual friends before there was such a thing, whose existence was wholly unaffected by my scabby knees, tomboy looks and utter social ineptness. I was lonely in the stacks, but I was safe.

But then-in my quest to know more, to want more of this Christ-in my junior year, I discovered, truly, the redemption of the gospel and the freedom of being His creation, of being known, and loved. I knew then that when my value comes from being a daughter of the King, I would never be alone.

It would be easy to stop here, to give you a picture of my life now, a snapshot of my handsome Soldier Husband and our three wild and beautiful children. To talk about being hashtag blessed. Too easy, in fact, and a big fat lie. Because our road to redemption and the cross doesn’t end in this lifetime, friends. My story doesn’t stop when I sought out a true relationship with the Savior.

See, I exist in a small slice of the world that lives in relative ease and comfort. At age 25, I was married, pregnant, healthy, and impossibly wealthy compared to 99% of the world’s population. I was {am} privileged beyond compare with things I did nothing to earn. And unknown to me, I had, slowly over time, put my faith in the security all of those things could offer. I was untouched by true loss and grief, and all the brokenness the world could bring.

The end of 2005 and 2006 would be the year of my breaking.

In November of 2005, while my Husband was on his first tour in Iraq, I miscarried our first child in a particularly traumatic fashion, undergoing emergency surgery while he was half a world away. I was grieving, but receiving tremendous amounts of grace that kept me from being bitter, or afraid. I did, however, inform the Lord in no uncertain terms that while He took my child, under no circumstances could he take my Husband, a helicopter pilot in the midst of a war. And then. THEN. On January 7, 2006 my best friend, also a helicopter pilot, was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

I was swallowed up by fear. It consumed me, saturating every thought, every step, every conversation.
I was swallowed up by fear. It consumed me, saturating every thought, every step, every conversation. It was irrational but so real, so present, directing me at every turn. Taken moment by moment, the events of the previous three months had been survivable: I ran towards the Lord each time, availing myself of the grace so freely given. But with one phone call, I was undone, those moments stacked upon each other into a weight I truly believed I could not bear.

The moment of my final surrender started with a vague feeling of unrest. The kind you get when you think you left the door unlocked, or the water running, or the stove on. Husband’s unit was currently forbidden from the communal phone bank for abusing the time limits and we hadn’t talked in two weeks.

come-to-me-verse3I was spiraling downward quickly, as I began to obsess about the potential dangers Husband was facing right that very second. It was the middle of the night, I was alone, and so very afraid. Leaky, silent tears were rolling down my cheeks as I faced down my fear, mentally, physically, and spiritually empty.

At 2 am, shaking and sobbing, I grabbed my phone and called my mom. And somewhere, between the tears, and the comfort from my mama, and the grace overflowed from the Words of Truth, in the depths of the deepest well…I saw the brightest stars.

I didn’t have to bear the weight.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”
Matthew 11:27-29, ESV

surrenderFor the first time in my life, I truly surrendered.

I relinquished my deal. In that moment, I knew, unequivocally, that He could take my child, He could take my best friend, He could take the Husband, and I would live. And eventually, live well. But I could not take another breath without Him moving the air in and out of my lungs. I would not survive without Him. I said He could have Husband and I meant it.

From that moment, forward, I was mending.  Slowly, mind you, but I was rebuilding on a foundation that cannot be moved.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken”
Psalm 62:1, ESV

(You can read the whole story of our First Year on my blog, www.allthegracebetween.com).

My story is divided into the before and after, the demarcation line being this middle of the night cry from the depths of my shattered heart. True, our redemption stories keep coming, and that was not the first time I suffered the loss of a child, or said goodbye to the handsome Soldier Husband when he went to war. But friends? He alone is my Rock and my salvation. And, always, always, there is hope.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’”

Lamentations 3:21-24, ESV

There is joy in the morning.

With love,
Molly Huggins.