Category Archives: Fear

An Anxious Journey

As far back as I can recall, I have always been an anxious person. Even as a child, I remember lying awake at night worrying about the threat of nuclear war I heard about on the news.

As a side note, I have a special place in my heart for anxious children. Speaking from my experience as a super anxious child, I think the wrong approach is telling them not to worry, without any explanation. Anxious children are usually very bright and may need you to walk them through it logically. If you’re the parent of an anxious child, I would love to chat more with you (you can email me through the Contact tab).

Fear and anxiety are familiar to me—almost like friends. After thirty-plus years as companions, it sometimes feels that way. I have become accustomed to my friends and forget they are actually opponents of faith and love.

Ultimately, anxiety is a control issue. I usually feel anxious because I believe there is something about a situation I can control or change. What should I do? What should I not do? My anxiety stems from a lack of trust. Those times I truly trust that God’s plan will prevail, regardless of what I do or don’t do, I experience peace.

In a recent sermon, my pastor Pete Wilson said, “Your job is not to make the anxious feelings go away. Your job is to take those worries to God.” He went on to say that God may give you an action step when you pray about it. But you aren’t in control of whether those anxious feelings go away.

This was a very freeing statement for me. For so long, I tried to make the anxiety go away. I prayed about it. A lot. But I felt like a failure because the Bible told me not to worry about anything . . . yet I was still anxious.

I’m learning that praying about my anxiety is more about giving those moments back to God. They all belong to him anyway. In each situation, he is the (only) one who truly has control. When I break free of trying to control everything, I can be myself and enjoy the journey God has hand-selected for me.

What do you find helpful when dealing with anxiety?

Content and Photo Copyright 2012. Allison K. Flexer @ Anointed With Grace.
Photo, quote, and design by Allison K. Flexer.

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Filed under Faith, Fear, God, Who is God?

Serenity

Many people associate the “Serenity Prayer” with recovery programs, mainly Alcoholics Anonymous. I propose if we’re truly honest, many of us would realize we’re “-aholics” of some variety—workaholics, controlaholics, moneyaholics, shopaholics, sexaholics, etc. There are even websites now dedicated to “iPhoneaholics” (I fear I am quickly becoming one!)

At times, most of us cling to something other than God to numb the pain. No matter what we’re holding onto, I have found that saying the Serenity Prayer is a great way to refocus on God and what’s truly important. It’s a good reminder that we must surrender those things we can’t change or control. Peace is found in the present moment, not the past or the future.

A prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr, commonly known as the Serenity Prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Content Copyright 2012. Allison K. Flexer @ Anointed With Grace.
Photo taken by Allison K. Flexer in Monterosso al Mare, Italy.

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Filed under Change, Faith, Fear, God, Surviving the Dark Places, Who is God?

Here I Am

I originally submitted this post as a guest blogger for Xochi Dixon in 2011. Since the page is no longer available on her website, I wanted to share it here. Part 2 of 2…

But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:11-12 (NIV)

In my previous post, Do You Trust Me?, I wrote about the story of Abraham and Isaac. Although I didn’t share how the story ends, many of you already know that God didn’t allow Abraham to go through with the sacrifice of Isaac. Once God realized Abraham truly trusted him and took steps of obedience, he sent an angel to stop Abraham from harming Isaac.

here i amWhen Abraham was just about to follow through with God’s request, verse 11 tells us an angel of the Lord called down from heaven and shouted his name. What was Abraham’s response? He replied, “Here I am.”

I love this simple statement. Because I want to find out the rest of the story, I usually skip over this small sentence. But it’s important. When we’re in the middle of a crisis and God calls our name, how do we respond? The first response for many of us (and many people in the Bible) is to hide from God.

Think back to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After they disobeyed, God came to the garden and asked, “Where are you?” He is God, so he obviously already knew where they were. I believe God asked the question to provide an opportunity for his children to come to him and be honest. Like Abraham, it was an opportunity for them to say, “Here I am.” Instead, Adam and Eve hid from God (see Genesis 3:10).

The difference between hiding from God and answering God depends on our relationship with him. In Abraham’s situation, he acted in obedience to God’s difficult request. He had nothing to hide, so he immediately answered God. Can you imagine his desperation at that moment? “Here I am! Tell me what to do next!”

I want to be in a place where I’m walking so closely with God in obedience that I’m desperately relying on him for the next step. But when I start putting my faith in myself instead of in God, I tend to hide from him. Why? Nothing surprises God. He knows exactly who we are and where we are. He may ask us to do hard things—just like he asked Abraham to be obedient to a difficult request.

I can only imagine the relief Abraham felt when God’s angel stepped in and stopped him from harming his son. Abraham trusted God, and God provided. God will provide. He always keeps his promises.

Today, remember that you are a child of God—the one who makes no mistakes and the one who created you in his image. He calls each of us by name. It’s our decision whether we’re going to hide or stand up and say, “Here I am, God.”

Content Copyright 2012. Allison K. Flexer @ Anointed With Grace.
Photo and Design by Allison K. Flexer.

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Filed under Faith, Fear, God, Who is God?, Writing

In the Midst of Fear – A God Story

For years, one of my very close friends was terrified of flying in an airplane. He had panic attacks on planes—or even just sitting in an airport. Although he owns a very successful business and travel is part of the job, he scheduled his life so he wouldn’t have to fly on an airplane. It was inconvenient but necessary for him. He would drive all the way across the country to avoid getting on a plane. Actually, it was hard for me to understand. As a business traveler, I have flown hundreds of times over the years, and I jump onto a plane just like I’m getting in my car. I’m usually asleep before takeoff.

But we all have fears. We all have areas our enemy uses to make us panic and take our eyes from God. Mine is not flying, but I’m certainly crippled by fear in many other areas.

The real story here comes with one word in the first sentence of this post—“was.” Past tense. A few days ago, my friend told me he gets excited when driving past an airport—so much that he can’t wait to fly again. This is the same person that had trouble breathing normally while driving past an airport two years ago. So, what changed?

With his permission, I want to share an excerpt from a recent email he sent:

2 years ago, I would have cut off one of my fingers before getting on an airplane. [Some close friends] prayed over me about this fear. Through their love and God’s healing power, I have now been on, I believe, 19 flights in the past 2 years. On those flights, I have some of my closest experiences with Jesus. Where else do I get to just talk to a stranger for hours without any interruptions—and where else can I do it knowing only the power of CHRIST even enables me to be on the plane to begin with? I am so cocky, so unaware, so selfish, so nasty most of the time, but that gets stripped away on the airplane as I realize how broken and how desperate I am for Jesus. And when I find him there waiting on me, he fills me with his spirit, and it is amazing what a changed person I become. I am praying that I would realize everyday how desperate I am for Christ, and not just on the days that I am flying.

I wanted to share my friend’s testimony with you because I believe this is where we need to be living—right in the middle of our fears. If we stay in our comfort zones, I believe God has little room to show us the impossible. When we step out into those areas where we don’t think we can survive alone, then God can step in, show us his power, and use us in mighty ways.

In closing, I want to share one more story from my friend. This is from his most recent plane flight:

I was seated next to a guy about my age, who was larger than I am, and tougher.  Much tougher. But he took a liking to me, and we began to share our life stories.  He told me he used drugs daily for 10 years and 2 years ago attempted suicide.  He said he took more than enough to die, and somehow didn’t, and it made him believe God was real and had a plan for his life. He entered rehab. He said he is much better now, still using drugs, but not nearly as much. He has had a job for almost two years now and is relying on God to help him battle his addiction. We shared a ton of scripture with each other, encouraged each other, and prayed together on the plane. It would take a long time to tell you everything he and I talked about in 2 hours, but it was unbelievable. Among the more noteworthy, he said his plan was to use drugs when he got home, but he felt God speaking to him through our time together and he was going to lean on God and not use yesterday. There was so much more amazing conversation and God was at work in both of our lives. I shared with him my fears and anxieties and how I have been captive to those for so long and we both received so much encouragement from God, through each other. It was so incredible.

Giving our fears to Jesus puts us in a place where we’re truly dependent on him. When incredible stories happen, we know it’s a God story and nothing we’ve done by our own power. My friend’s story has taught me to truly believe 2 Corinthians 12:9. Live in those areas of weakness, for that is where God’s power can truly be displayed…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

What fears can you turn over to Jesus today?

 

Content Copyright 2011. Allison @ Anointed With Grace.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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Filed under Faith, Fear, Friendship, God, Travel