Kicking Fear to the Curb

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 118:6, NIV)

My eighth grade experience was easily the worst year of my life, from beginning to end. I found myself isolated when I was the only one from my friend group that transitioned to advanced placement classes. I found myself further isolated when all of my friends ended up having the same lunch hour and free periods since they were all in the same classes. Every single day, I dreaded going to the cafeteria, because that meant I had to solve the awful dilemma of where to sit daily.

At first, I brought books to read alone in the courtyard outside of the cafeteria, but that only worked while the weather was nice. Once the colder months kicked in, the courtyard was locked until spring. After that, I asked some tentative friends from my English class if I could sit with them. There was no room at the table, so I had to drag up a chair every day, which still didn’t feel right, but I was just glad to not have to deal with my lunch-time dilemma anymore.

That is, until one day, one of the girls at the table told me that I didn’t belong there. She told me not to bring my chair over to their group anymore because I didn’t fit in. Not as in I was cramming up the elbow room at the table… as in, I wasn’t good enough to be included. Not only that, but she shunned me in front of everyone, and not one of them stood up for me.

Needless to say, I went home and sobbed my eyes out. I was terrified of going back to school the next day and being faced with that awful question of where to sit again. Only now, I was sure that there would be eight pairs of eyes on me, carefully watching what my decision would be. I cried and cried, asking Jesus why He would let this happen to me. Why did I have to be reminded every single day that no one wanted me as a friend?

That was when my earthly daddy came into the room. He dried my eyes, and he told me that yes, tomorrow would be hard, but I had a choice: I could either run away from these people and let them crush my spirit, or I could walk up to the very girl that broke my heart and see if I could rectify the situation. Suddenly, my terrifying situation got one hundred times more frightening. Face her? I didn’t even want to look at her! Speak to her? I was horrified at the thought of even being in the same room as her.

Some days, we wake up knowing that there is something unpleasant to face during the course of the day. Whether it’s a conversation with an offended friend or an intimidating bully, an uncomfortable meeting at school or your workplace, or a confrontation with a family member, we all are familiar with situations in which avoidance is the much easier option.

But we all know that just because a course of action is easier, doesn’t mean it’s the right move. Avoidance doesn’t actually fix anything. It only delays– or in some cases, makes worse– the outcome.

I could have avoided this girl. I could have taken my lunch to the bathroom or the library and hid from the same group of people that I had seen as my social refuge merely days before. Instead, I kept reminding myself what my dad had told me the night before: My God is bigger than any of those girls, and He promised that He would love me and back me up no matter what. He told me that God supports us when we stand up for ourselves and that if I needed him, he’d leave work to come back me up too.

So what exactly happened the next day? Let’s just say that I did stand up for myself, and I didn’t end up needing my earthly daddy, because my heavenly one was all the back up I needed. Turns out, I was never invited back to that table, but I realized that I wasn’t going back, even if they did. Instead, I sat with another quiet girl in my classes and when the weather got warmer, we ventured into the courtyard together and patiently waited for middle-school graduation.

Whatever you face on those days where you feel like you’re going up against some larger opponent, and the outcomes are all unknown, you have a choice. You can twist yourself up in anxiety and fear, or you can trust that the Lord is already going before you to protect you. See, when you believe in the One who breathed life into existence, no enemy, no evil, and no harm can truly affect you. When He stands with you, all your enemies become just people, and no person can stand against anyone He loves.

“The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (Psalm 118:7-8, ESV)

That year, although I would never go back to repeat it, I learned a very important lesson: As people, we’re not called to be alone. If that were true, then God would have stopped creating after Adam, and He and Adam would have lived together for always and eternity. It is true that we’re called to be in community, but sometimes, God calls us unto Himself. Sometimes, we get the untold privilege of allowing God to be our friend. Sure, it looks strange to everyone else and they won’t understand it. But eventually, God will bring people into your life that not only serve as companions but as Holy Spirit-filled encouragers that heal all the hurts that you didn’t know you could still carry decades later.

So when you find yourself up against something difficult and scary, don’t shrink back. Face it confidently with Jesus. No one can beat Him. No one can intimidate Him. When you put your trust in Him, He will protect you and make sure that you make it through your situation. After all, with Him by your side, even death loses its intimidation factor, so carry on confidently, friends. You can face whatever lies in front of you without fear.

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