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Ft. Pulaski, Savannah/Tybee, GA

Where do you go when you’re afraid?

When I was young, I remember being afraid at night and going into my parents’ room telling them that I was scared. Most of the time, there was no good reason for my being afraid, so my active imagination would conjure up something.  To this day, my mom still laughs at the scary man looking in my bedroom window…on the second floor of the house!

As I’ve grown up and experienced the pain and loss that life can dole out indiscriminately, I’ve learned to build a fortress around my feelings.  When you learn the hard way that the more vulnerable you are with people, the more deeply they can hurt you, such walls are a natural result of the pain that you feel.  Kind of like the survivalist who hoards weapons and ammunition in a lead-lined underground bunker, just waiting for “the big one.”

As a single woman, there are not many options when life issues hit you head-on. You try to be prepared, because you know when it happens, you’re pretty much on your own.  For example, I just thought the other day that I should keep a bag of personal overnight items packed in the trunk of my car so that if I’m ever in a car accident and am injured enough to have to go to the hospital, I will already have my stuff with me- otherwise, there is no one to bring me anything.  Pretty ingenious, I thought- unless I’m unconscious and unable to tell the people who transport me- “Wait!  Get my pj’s out of the trunk please!”

But merely being prepared isn’t good enough when fear seeps through those walls and grips your heart.  Knowing I have a loaded weapon and an alarm system to protect my home might give me some sense of security, but it doesn’t ease the anxiety of what the doctor may find at my next exam, or the worry over what will happen if I lose my job tomorrow.  What do you do with those fears that you can never really prepare for or self-protect from?

This question brings me back to those walls- that fortress I have built around my heart to keep people from hurting me.  Those walls may keep out the people who would be false friends, but those same walls will also keep out those who would be my true friends- the ones who would be there for me when I need them most, who would bring my Kindle charger AND chocolate to me in the hospital.

Those self-built walls are also a sure sign of trusting in myself, rather than trusting in my God.  Psalm 46 assures me that God Himself is my refuge, and that no matter what happens, He will protect me and be with me- so that He will be exalted.  Isn’t it amazing that God wants to be known for taking care of His children?  “Be still,” He tells me, “and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth!”

In comparison to what He can do in my life- that eternal refuge that He has become for me- my self-built walls are quite flimsy and useless.  Like most things that we choose to trust instead of God, our worldly fortresses are best torn down in an act of extreme faith that He will do a glorious work of protecting us from anything that life can throw our way. Not that those things won’t ever knock us off our feet, but with such a powerful and loving God on our side, they certainly won’t keep us down.