Fearless is a series about women living fearless lives. The words fearless and courageous are used interchangeably, however I like the word “fearless” more. I’m not sure why, I just do. A shortcoming of the word “fearless” is that it tends to communicate a lack of fear. So, what do I mean by it? To that, I look to the great John Wayne who said, “Courage is when you’re scared to death, but you saddle up anyway.” For the purpose of this dialogue, that description is exactly what I mean by “fearless.” Not without fear, but not controlled by it either.
For the most part, I am able to appear fearless to the people around me. I tend to charge toward the difficult, complex and unknown with what appears to be confidence. It doesn’t hurt that, “Ready! Fire! Aim!” is one of my life mottos. Not thinking something through definitely gives one the false sense of security needed to bolt into fearful circumstances bold and breathless. Oblivion can look like fearlessness from the outside in.
A few years back, God really put that faux fearless front to the test. All at once, the walls of my safe haven were collapsing in around me. First, the economy blew up, which was hard for everyone, but proved almost fatal to new start up businesses like ours. Needless to say, this put enormous stress on my husband, his Crohn’s disease flared up with a vengeance and he spent a month in the hospital recovering from major surgery that saved his life. It took several months for him to regain his strength and the stamina to run his company. In the process, he lost 40 pounds, had to let all of his staff go and we gave up the house that we thought we were going to raise our girls in.
To be fair, we made some major rookie mistakes both in our business and our personal finances. Rookie mistake number one…Never assume. We had worked under the assumption that real estate values averaged a net gain and any losses were temporary and quickly recovered, (because that had been true for the previous 25 years, and seemed a safe assumption.) When real estate values fell by 50% we had a serious predicament on our hands which proved to be the most costly mistake: leveraging our home to start our business. Rookie mistake number two…recognize permanent market adjustments when they happen. When the stock market adjusted and everyone’s investments were worth half of what they were the day before, economic pandemonium ensued. As a result of this instability in the market, our business’ sales dropped by 60% nearly overnight. Unfortunately, it took several months for us to realize that we weren’t just having a bad sales stretch, but that this was the new normal. We spent all of our personal savings making payroll and even borrowed money to try to float the business until the market got better. Rookie mistake number three…Never throw good money after bad.
Through that time I spent lots of energy white water rafting down “Denial River.” Lots of misplaced prayers for God to just rescue us and make this easier on everyone. I got almost complete silence back from God except for one small whisper…a verse that I had memorized as a child looped continuously in my mind, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted on the earth.” Psalm 46:10. I kept crying out in pain for rescue and God’s answer to me was “be still.”
For a while I was indignant. If He wasn’t going to help me then I was going to work my way out of it. I’d find a solution by my own power. But no solution came other than the inevitable storm. I was drowning, and God was telling me to be still. God was so loving and patient with me during that time. I finally started listening to His urging for me to be still, but I didn’t understand it. As I often do with passages of scripture that I don’t understand, I became suspicious that something of the original meaning has been lost in translation. I turned to my trusty Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible, and learned that the phrase “be still” in that passage is translated from the Hebrew verb “rapah,” which means, “To make to fall. To let go.”
God was telling me to let go, and letting go very often means that the object you’re holding is going to fall.
“Let it fall.” He said.
I’d always thought of myself as pretty courageous, but I soon realized that there was a precious inner sanctum that I governed with an iron fist. I was basically saying to God, “I trust you as long as you don’t cause me pain and suffering in these most precious places of family, health, home and financial security.” We all do this. We might be open handed with the majority of our lives…but there’s always the deep recesses of ourselves that we keep locked up and guarded. Those places are where our deepest fears lay waiting. We think if we keep those places under our control that we might not have to face those fears.
Why do we do this? It makes no intellectual sense that we trust the easy things to the Creator of the Universe but not the hard things. If we were going to try to do things in our own strength, doesn’t it make more sense that we’d attempt the easy stuff and relinquish the hard stuff to God? We don’t though! We do the exact opposite of that!
I know with me, it just points to my fallen nature and my default to sinful self-focus. In my last post, I tried to help establish the idea that fearing anything other than God is sin and it is a distinct part of our fallen female nature to default to fear. We have to dicipline ourselves to put our fears at the feet of Jesus.
Once I decided to be still, to let it all fall, I had a revelation: I’m not afraid anymore. I’m standing firm upon the hand of the One Who is Mighty to Save, and come what may, I am safe. God has laid it on my heart to testify, especially to my fellow sisters in Christ, that when we release our fears to Him, only then are we truly free. Freedom from fear is what God desires for us.
2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.”
I saw Him save my husband from severe illness, provide a very unlikely but wonderful place for us to live and raise our business from the ashes as a more streamlined, profitable version of its old self. In the process, He pruned out the gnarled branches of fear in my life so that I could grow in freedom.
Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship(adoption.) And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
So tell me…What are you holding on to?
What do you need to let fall?