You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
In my time with God this morning, He is showing me a Chave family gathering, which happens each month. I’m not sitting in the corner while everybody else is talking, laughing and enjoying pizza. I’m actually right there in the midst of it all and I feel involved and part of the group. I see the Light that I’m reflecting outwards to my loved ones. Although, they do not say anything to me, in regards to this Light, I know they are feeling God’s glory all over them. Some may not recognize what is actually happening but they notice something and it’s good. I am happy for God and for myself. Victory all around!
I know I’ve shared some of my fears/social anxieties in previous posts but I’d like to carry on with this topic because it is important to my growth in Jesus Christ! Please forgive me if I repeat myself but I do need repetition to get God’s wisdom through my thick skull.
My family is god-sent. I prayed for this family at a young age (elementary school) because I am an only child and I was lonely quite a bit. No fault of my parents, they both had to work full-time for various reasons. I was alone after school and I always imagined what it would be like to leave school with a sibling. I walked to and from Palm Vista Elementary School each day and for little legs this was quite a distance. I can look back now and see that it really wasn’t that far but it would have been much more exciting if I had a sister to walk with. Of course, it would be great to have an older brother too. He would protect me from bullies and anything else in life that came against me. I would feel safe at night while I slept in my bed because my brother would be in the next room, armored up and ready to protect me if a bad guy came in to harm me.
As I look back now, I remember long nights in my bed, wide awake, and creating all sorts of escape routes just in case I heard intruders breaking down the door. I had a waterbed for much of my young life and as you know there is no room for a tunnel underneath but I used to imagine that I had dug one at the side of my bed and that it went down deep into the ground so that I was hidden and safe. I’d hear the men charge into my room, I’d hear their whispered voices, and feel their disappointment when they didn’t find the little, innocent sleeping girl in her bed. I’d smile big and be so thankful.
I can remember many times waking up with such an unbearable fear that I would silently creep into my parents room which was down the longest hallway in the world, or so I thought back then.
My young self hated having a room in the very front of the house, right next to the front door. Funny, I never thought of the sliding glass door in my parents room. How frightened would I have been then?
My mom would often let me curl up beside her and I would try not to move so that my dad did not wake up. They had a waterbed as well, so any movement could be detrimental to my safety. He would immediately send me back to my room. Filled with doom and dread, I slowly trudged back to my scary bedroom. The shadows on my wall would once again come alive and all I could do was lie there drenched in sweat and scared out of my mind.
Just to emphasize my terror, let me share my parent’s laundry hamper. It was white and had a vinyl top. The lid was on hinges so it closed nicely. The sides were flimsy and could be punched out by the imprint of my body but I was so small that I could fit in there just right and if an intruder were to walk by, he would get my parents instead of me because he wouldn’t know were I was. Who would look in the laundry hamper?
My mom must have heard me, on this one particular occasion, because she woke up and as she passed, I popped out of the hamper and said:
“Here I am!”
She asked me what I was doing and I told her that I was scared. She carried me back to my room, put me in the bed with words of comfort and left.
I don’t say any of this to upset my parents. I say this because it is a significant part of my life. I was scared and today, at the age of forty-five, I’m still scared. I’ve had a difficult time understanding why fear has played such a huge part in my life!
My husband and I were traveling back from California one year. We were probably in our early twenties. We were living in Minot, North Dakota and it is an awfully long drive. We were just entering Bismark (it was dark) and there was a terrible lightning storm ahead. The bolts appeared to be touching the ground and I just knew if we continued on home that lightning was going to strike our car and kill us. I’m still deathly afraid of lightning today. I will not go outside if it is present.
As I remember this moment, I begged and pleaded to my husband to stop the car, turn around, and find a hotel. He looked at me like I had lost my mind.
“We can travel the rest of the way in the morning, when the lighting has moved on.”
“Absolutely not, we are almost home!”
I can look back now and see that I was being ridiculous but I couldn’t help it. The fear of getting hit and dying was strong and it overpowered any rational thoughts that I could have come up with. I had to put my head down in my lap and close my eyes until we got through it. Nothing happened. I obviously didn’t die. We did not get struck but it was a moment of terror and a moment that I wanted to run from.
I think I was most fearful in England. We were stationed there from 1998 until 2002. We lived in a tiny village called, Feltwell. The house was two stories and it was old, cold, and dreary. My husband traveled while we were there. It wasn’t unusual for my daughter and I to live on our own for months at a time. Without fail, I would wake in the middle of the night with sheer panic of somebody walking around downstairs. I would immediately jump out of bed and listen at my doorway for footsteps. As I stood quietly waiting for a noise, I would wake even further. That sleepy feeling lost!! We had a motion-detector at the back of the house which would periodically come on for some reason. I thought it was a man trying to find his way in. I would run to the hallway window and throw it open so that I could see what was happening below. I never saw anything. When I was satisfied that all was clear, I would quickly walk to my bedroom window and throw that open. I would just stare out into the darkness, watching and waiting.
In the wee hours of the morning, I would fall back to sleep only to be awakened by my alarm clock an hour or so later. How I functioned during the day is beyond me. I had a small child to get ready for school, volunteer responsibilities and a job. I eventually had to seek treatment for my uncontrollable fear and anxiety. I was relieved to leave England and live closer to my husband’s family. I would have people around to keep me company and keep me safe. My daughter would know her family and loneliness would be something she wouldn’t have to deal with.
Never would I have thought that this familiar fear/anxiety would occur during our family gatherings and we have quite a few. My first instinct (when the invite arrives) is to run the other way. I want to make an excuse and not go.
I’m too tired.
Not a great time.
Anything to get out of the fear of facing my family.
In all honesty, I’ve got a wonderful family. They are kind, loving, generous, and always available for company or in times of distress. We all love and support one another to the best of our ability. They are a blessing so why don’t I show how grateful I am for them? This makes me feel terrible!
The moment I walk into the room, fear grips me. My voice disappears and I feel like a social outcast. I don’t want to appear stupid in conversation. My education doesn’t match theirs. I’m overweight and cannot do a darn thing with my hair. Worried about what I’m going to eat, I either bring my own food or don’t eat at all. I don’t fit in. The walls draw me near and next thing I know, I’m sitting all alone. I have no idea where to even look when I’m feeling this uncomfortable. I leave my body and I see everybody engaging and I see myself, empty and lifeless.
Back to the Lord’s revelation from this morning…not only did He show me great transformation but he also pointed me to the interpretation of Matthew 5:14-16:
Can you hide a city that is sitting on top of a mountain? Its light at night can be seen for miles. If we live for Christ, we will glow like lights, showing others what Christ is like. We hide our light by (1) being quiet when we should speak, (2) going along with the crowd, (3) denying the light, (4) letting sin dim our light, (5) not explaining our light to others, or (6) ignoring the needs of others. Be a beacon of truth–don’t shut your light off from the rest of the world.
I believe the Lord is working miracles in my life and that in this new year (2018), I will be that godly light on top of a mountain. I do believe that the Lord’s light (that I will reflect) will shine for miles and that I will make a difference. I pray for this and I believe this. My voice is coming and my fear is dwindling and I praise God for this. No longer will I be that fearful child in the bed waiting for disaster. The wall flower that I’m immediately reduced to in the corner of the room. I will not be afraid to speak in conversation because what I say will be not be of me but from God. He has the power to transform and not only is He doing that in me (He will do it for you too) but He will do the same for the people that I’m connected to. I don’t have to be fearful of anything because my Heavenly Father is standing all around me, shielding me, protecting me, guiding me and loving me.
So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper,
so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?”