I hate being afraid of stuff. Fear makes me ugly, like a terrible monster, desperately and ferociously trying to grasp onto my last shreds of hope that I’m actually in control of things. And I hate how fear sneaks up and cripples me from out of nowhere.
It’s probably just the bittersweet feeling of another school year passing, but tonight, even as I was surrounded by so many people I love, the taste in my mouth was a whole lot more bitter than sweet. It was as if all the weight of this year finally fell onto my heart and instead of being able to fully celebrate these closing chapters to my full capacity, I was mourning.
My heart was aching. This is not what I wanted Lord. This is not how I planned for things to go.
I’m such a person of habit. It’s almost to a fault how much I love for things to remain the way they are. Because we all love that right? We feel safe when we feel that our relationships and situations are secure and unshakable. But in reality, that’s not really life. Instead of remaining safe and secure, life’s always throwing us curve balls, sending us on a different path just when we have sure footing on the previous one.
And it stinks, to be honest. This year has been a year marked by things not going the way I planned for them to go. Relationships changed, huge sections of my life and my identity changed. I was stripped raw and forced to taste many bitter moments along with the sweet.
And even though it’s been hard and I’ve struggled a ton, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I have to go to Jesus. I have to lean into him. He’s the only sure thing in my life. He’s the only thing that’s never changing.
I got home tonight and crawled into bed, grabbing my journal and pen because it was the only thing I knew to do. I have friends who are really great about processing through stuff with Jesus first before bringing it to others, but that’s a discipline I usually lack. It’s hard for me to go to Jesus when I have tangible people who can hear me out and love on me. When I’m dealing with something and should go to Jesus it’s usually a “thanks Jesus but I’m going to go talk to my friends about this first” or “I’m going to numb this with pinterest or instagram or anything else besides you” type conversation I have with him. But tonight my heart was aching and the only think I could think to do was to crawl into bed and talk to Jesus.
What I hate most about fear is that it makes me start to doubt everything else around me, too. Just one off encounter sends me spiraling into doubting every relationship, every situation, and suddenly I’m afraid that everything I love will disappear and I will be left alone.
And in the midst of realizing this was the root of my fear, I cried all this out to God. My heart was practically screaming, “I’m SCARED Jesus! I don’t want to be alone! Why does everything have to change?! And why do I feel this loss so deeply?!”And the response I got was one that I know will bring me to my knees over and over again for seasons to come.
“Beloved, I am for you in and out of every season. Though friendships, relationships, and seasons change, THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT YOU DOES NOT CHANGE… MY LOVE FOR YOU IS UNWAVERING. My Character is unwavering. I do not give up on you. I do not replace you. I do not leave you behind.”
Friends, that might be some of the deepest truth I’ve ever encountered. Things are always changing all around us. We’re always moving in and out of seasons. People are always coming and going, in and out of our lives. But you know what? THAT’S OKAY! In fact, that’s normal, because that’s just how life is! And I don’t mean that in a “well that’s just how life is, better suck it up” type of way, but in a way that it’s just the truth, and that’s okay!! And the crazy thing is that we can actually have peace in the fact that life is fleeting. Although it makes no sense to the world and even my own heart at times, I can trust that even when the people I love today are no longer walking closely with me in life, it’s okay because there is One who will never leave my side.
See, if we focus on the fact that things are always changing, we’re always going to be monsters. We’re either going to desperately cling to people in an unhealthy dependence for fear that they will leave us or we will isolate ourselves and push others away for the same fear. But the truth is, that fear comes from us trying to get our needs met in someone other than God.
Here’s the realest truth I know: God’s character does not change. His word holds fast. So if he says he will not leave us or forsake us. If he says he is our rescuer, our safe place, our shelter, He means it! He’s so FOR us! He’s never against us, no matter what we’ve done. He never turns his back on us. He’s never even distracted. So instead of hoping to fulfill our longings to be loved, seen, and known in other people, let’s learn to first go to him. He’s the only one who will always be there (and we’re talking here for eternity people)
And if we’re walking closely with Jesus, we can experience his Peace no matter what circumstances come our way. But even though we hold most tightly to Him, we can’t be afraid to love other people and let others love us back. God is good but he did not design us to make it through this world alone. We need each other. We need to experience community and love and life with others. We were made for it.
So, here I am once again. Naming my fears and my mess and learning to lean into Jesus. It’s messy. It’s frustrating and embarrassing but so incredibly humbling and life-giving. And in these changing seasons, as one more chapter of these college years comes to a close, I will again choose joy. I will one again rejoice. I will choose to go to Jesus first and I will choose to invest in relationships with others. Even if things change. Even if things don’t turn out the way I planned. No longer will I be afraid, no longer will the bitterness rule my life. Because even short seasons with other people are gifts. It’s worth it to let them in. And as things change, and people come and go, I will celebrate those around me and choose to stare at Jesus. We have the power to be people of grace and peace. So let’s let the punches roll. It’s all okay. We have the King of Kings holding our right hand.