More Faith/Less Fear

Today is a good day. Everything about it feels right, feels warm, speaks to my heart in every way possible. I don't know if there's a way to feel more filled up emotionally, spiritually, or physically. And it has nothing to do with the impending Super Bowl. Michael on the other hand, is feeling the same exuberance, and it has everything to do with the Super Bowl.

At this moment, he's watching all the pre-game commentary, the recaps of the season, his excitement escalating by the second. The start time can't come soon enough. For me, the end time can't come soon enough! It's fun for a while, but I'm not emotionally attached. At all. Walking away for a ten minutes, or an hour, won't make any difference. I do like the commercials, even though it's product hype on steroids. Never makes me want to buy them any more than a regular commercial. And I will admit that I am touched by one of the pre-shows that highlighted five individuals who were winners of tickets to the game, and the challenges they faced in their life, all of whom have overcome amazing struggles. Each ending up winners in the end. But, at the end of this football game, someone will win, someone will lose. Tomorrow morning, life goes back to normal. Some people to go Disney World. At this moment, I'm cooking up a new recipe to try on my totally-distracted-yet-always-available-if-I-insist husband. I'm in my element, he's in his. This is a very manageable balance in our relationship!

As for the game, you can bet, that both teams go into this game with absolutely no fear. They have to. I'm not talking about the kind that hits the stomach with butterflies or nauseousness right before a speech, a recital or a walk on stage performance. That's expected. Each player has to think, feel and believe they have the advantage and will walk away triumphant. They both go in with as much faith as is necessary to win. They've more than prepared, studied plays, watched films, been on the practice field, encouraged each other, built each other up to the point of fear not being an option. But I imagine there could be a single moment in the game when the advantage clearly shifts to the other team, the dream of winning slips a little farther away, and a rush of fear happens unexpectedly. Will all the training help them in that moment to dig deep and pull out the best of themselves, enough to emerge champions? Part of the training surely deals with the psychological aspect of this larger-than-life game. It has to.

I heard the phrase more faith/less fear today at church. In fact, those in attendance chanted "more faith, less fear" to each other back and forth across the room, in what resembled the "more taste/less filling" commercial common on football game broadcasts. It felt like a very responsive moment that could have gone on for a while, if the pastor had allowed it. Needless to say, he's a very smart man. The premise was that even though we commit to being "in the zone" with our relationship to God, there will still be bad spots, darkness, imperfections, distractions. But II Corinthians 5:6-8 says (and I paraphrase) to be always fully confident, refocus on believing not in what we see, but what we don't see. More faith. Less fear. Fear is not a product of faith and can't exist in the same space. Even though our goal is to live more by faith, fear will still come. There will be a moment, just like in the game, when reality hits, fear slams into us, and we're faced with moving forward with hope, or being stuck where we are. In those moments, what can we do?

The first thing is to stop and pray. And by pray I mean have a heart to heart with God, discuss every single feeling or emotion, every thought, every detail about what has brought us to the place of fear once again. I find that in order to share those feelings, I have to know them in myself. I have to search for the words that completely, 100% align with my entire being at that moment. This is what he wants to hear from us. Most times, just doing that will cause me to back away from fear enough that I can see some next steps.

So, the second thing I would do is just to take one more step. In any direction, it doesn't matter. You just can't stay still, can't let your boots sink farther into the muck. Keep moving. It might only be as simple as getting up in the morning and making the coffee, or taking your clothes out of the dryer, or making that phone call to a friend. Any step will move you one step away from where you were when fear hit.

Third step, wait. Just wait. You don't have to rush time, or events. You can just be still and wait. But the key to waiting, is trust. You must trust that this God you just shared your intimate feelings with, is really beside you, is really able to bring you through, really loves you and cares deeply about what's going on with you. Because He is, closer than you realize.

Next, it's crucial that in that moment you wait, you stop and realize that for this moment, and the next moment, and the next, you are ok. You can still breathe, oxygen is flowing all around you. Your heart is still beating, your blood moving through your veins. You are alive. That fear, whatever the cause, can not change these facts in that moment, you are ok. The Spirit living inside you gives you peace beyond understanding. It boggles my mind sometimes how one emotionally charged moment feels crushing, then in the next, the heavy, dark cloud scatters enough for me to breath, to hear my heartbeat, to know I'm still alive. I tell myself "in this moment, I am ok." And that's all I need, for the moment. Sooner than later, my spirit believes it.

Go through this cycle of praying, taking a step, waiting, trusting God, telling yourself you're ok, as many times as you need to. Rinse. And repeat. I would do it until. Until circumstances change. Until the answer is clear. Until the threat is gone. Until the fear is gone. This will feel like the hardest wrestling match you've ever been through. Over and over. But like the Super Bowl, someone, you, will emerge a champion. Shining through with your faith tested and strengthened will be as exciting as raising that trophy at the end of the game, with glitter raining down all around, your name in lights. Because you win. We win. We win over fear, we win over life's chaos, we win over the darkness. We just win. It's a beautiful thing.