A spirit of self-discipline

Last night I attended a womens’ Bible study.  My emotions were all over the place.  I wasn’t sure if I  should go since I don’t attend the same church as the ladies in the Bible study, or ANY church currently, for that matter.  Also, it wasn’t like I was actually invited.  They asked Ash to babysit for the women who had young children, and that’s how I got the invitation.  So it felt kind of like a second hand invitation,  you know.  An afterthought.

I was torn.  But I know that if I’m going to build relationship with people in this new town, I need to leave my house.  I need to put myself out there.  I need to be bold and confident.   Plus, I do love a good Bible study as much as the next gal, so I went.    I am so glad that I did.  The study was on fear and worry.  I don’t consider myself a fearful person or a worry wort.  So naturally I didn’t think I would gain much from it.  However I did.  I gained more than I could have imagined.  It was so weird because being the introverted person that I am, especially around people I don’t know, I usually clam up, smile sweetly, answer if spoken to and retreat as fast as possible.   Not last night.  It was like I had diarrhea of the mouth.  I answered every question, at the same time constantly worrying that I was dominating the conversation and not making any sense at all.  I added to other’s comments, and then later worried that I offended them, that I didn’t express myself good enough and they took it the wrong way.   I tell you, I’m one of those people who can’t even talk half the time, and if I do, then afterwards I play the conversation over and over and realize how utterly stupid I must have sounded.  Making first impressions is so hard.  For me.

I’ve learned since the Bible study, that yes, I am a worry wort.  Not in the aspect that I worry the house will catch on fire or the world will end, but I worry what people think of me.  I worry if I’m good enough for them, if I’m likable, if I’ll measure up as friend-worthy.  I find myself worrying about this a lot more now that I’m in a new place, trying to make new connections. In my hometown where I lived all my life, those relationships and connections were well established before I had to worry about it.  I mean, I made it out of junior high and then high school.  I’m nearly 40 years old, so figuring out who I am and worrying if people will like the person that I am, should be long gone and over with.  Well, it’s not.

As we sat in a semi-circle in a lady’s home, our Bibles opened on our laps, sharing our deepest fears and worry and getting all down and personal, I began to feel so refreshed and renewed.  It has been a very long time since I participated in a small group and I left there feeling filled up to the measure with God and fellowship.  It was a good feeling.  I just love how GOD knows exactly what we need and meets that need in ways we don’t expect.

The leader touched on many scriptures, but the one that spoke to me in so many ways was 2 Timothy 1:7.

I heard Beth Moore teach on this scripture before and so I know a  different version.  The version I’ve always recited is from the KJV that reads:  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (emphasis mine)

But the scripture read aloud at the Bible study was a different version than I know.  The NIV reads:  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (emphasis mine)

EUREKA!!

Self-discipline is something I struggle with on a daily basis.  I can get lazy.  I can procrastinate.  There are so many things I want to accomplish and yet I lack the self-discipline.  I beat myself up each night for not doing what I need to because of the self-discipline it requires.    After hearing this version of the verse, it was an epiphany.  GOD gives me self-discipline.  It is from Him.  Which means I can accomplish all that I desire with self-discipline.  If He gives self-discipline, then it makes sense to me that the lazy, procrastinating spirit is from Satan.  Of course it is.  He doesn’t want me to succeed, he wants to steal my joy.  He came in fact, to steal, kill and destroy.  Destroy my dreams, destroy my hope, destroy my family, my health, and ultimately my life.  Satan wants me to live in defeat and to go to bed every night disappointed in myself.

On a second note, that scripture also speaks to my timidity around new people and new situations.  My lack of self confidence, my worry of first impressions and if people will like me.  Timidity does not come from God.  I know who I am in Him and I need to hold my head up and walk proudly knowing that if He is for me, who can be against me, right?

I’m refreshed by this.  Which is exactly what the Word of God will do, refresh.  I am uplifted.  I am hopeful.  I am smiling.  My joy is abundant.

Now when I’m faced with my lazy, procrastinating spirit, or my weaknesses want to override my strengths, or I want to give in and not work toward goals I have set for myself, then I recite 2 Timothy 1:7.

God has given me self-discipline.

 

 

Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh my!

Snakes, spiders, tornadoes, heights, death, the dark, the number 13.

The fear of colors, the fear of music, the fear of wrinkles, even the fear of the belly button.

Fear, fear, fear.  Dear, dear, dear.  There are so many things to fear.

My mother is a fearless woman.  She taught us not to fear by not being afraid herself.  Her sister on the other hand, whistles when she’s in the dark.  My dad was a mighty fearless guy but  got the heck out of dodge if there was a snake around.  I’ve been told of my uncle who was so afraid to sleep outdoors one night that he kept a firm grip on a knife while in his bedroll, only to roll over and stab himself in the gut.  We all know the types:  the fearless or the afraid of their own shadow kind.

Franklin Roosevelt told us there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.  But really?  The world is full of rapists, ax murderers, and scientists attempting to recreate the dinosaurs.  I’d say there’s plenty to fear.

I am a “what if” person.  I wish I wasn’t, but something crazy will come into my head, and before I can stop myself, a whole scenario has played out.  What if I received a call that my husband had died.  What if I contracted mad cow disease.  What if Sara Lee stopped making pound cake.

My former boss once told me I had an “adversarial relationship with the fates.”

In other words, If I can imagine it, then by just imagining it will stop it from happening.  I think she nailed it.  I also think by imagining things, we can  overcome our fears.  To say I have no fears would be crazy, I have a few, but I certainly don’t dwell on them, that would be crazy.

I  do have a real fear of snakes.  At least I did.   I don’t like them.  I don’t want to watch them on the Discovery Channel striking at the camera, I don’t really mind them if they’re in a cage at the zoo, but I certainly don’t want to coil one around my arm and I definitely don’t want to be bitten.  My first real encounter with a snake was traumatic.  We lived in our little trailer house on the prairie, it was spring, and there was a snake in my dirt driveway.  I was panic-stricken.  Because it was spring, it hadn’t shaken all the cold out of it’s belly yet, and was moving slowly.  I didn’t know what to do.  Panic overtook me.  My thoughts raced.  I paced the drive.  I called my husband.  I stewed.  I fretted. Knowing I couldn’t rest until something was done, I built up the courage of David the little shepherd boy and with a shovel, I whacked that baby snake to death.  Yes, I said baby snake.  Baby bull snake at that.  Not even a danger to me.  It didn’t go as I thought.  Instead of one good whack and a lost head resulting, my shovel bounced off that snake like a game of wall ball.  I had to remove myself from within myself, and go all ax murderish on that bad boy.  I became one with an ax murderer.   It was not pleasant, but I knew I could do it.

Afterwards, my fear and the reoccurrence of snakes in the driveway and front yard caused me to learn to differentiate between good snakes and poisonous snakes. I googled pictures, I read articles, I researched what to do in case of a poisonous bite.  I learned to ignore the good snakes.   Eventually to overcome my fear, I had to play out the entire scenario of being bitten by a rattlesnake, if I were 3 miles from home on a walk, 10 miles from a hospital, without my cell phone, pushing my baby in a stroller.  I envisioned it all.  Would I run and risk the venom cursing faster through my bloodstream, would I slowly walk to preserve my life.  What if I passed out on a dirt road and nobody came by for one hour, 3 hours, 12 days?  What would become of my baby?  It sounds crazy, but if I imagine the worse case, then it’s not as frightening and I face it.

Right up there with fear of snakes is my fear of water and my fear of illness. I don’t like the deep water.  I think the ocean is a beautiful, miraculous, intriguing place, but I would be scared to death to be in it.  Give me a kiddie pool please and I’ll use my imagination.  I also fear a long, drawn out illness befalling me.  I fear losing my health.  I don’t want to be remembered as someone who was strong through the suffering.

Most mothers fear something might happen to their children, but I don’t allow myself to go there.   I won’t allow myself to play out the possibilities.  They are too vast and not to be toyed with.

There’s a fine line really.  We can’t live in fear, yet we can’t be so fearless that we become foolish.

A person can drive themselves crazy with fear.  When I have the kind of experience when I’m afraid to be home alone at night and begin imagining all the episodes I’ve seen on America’s Most Wanted happening to me, I hold tight to the promise of God who says to Fear Not for He is with me.

 Sidenote:  Did you know, 365 times the Bible tells us not to fear.  One for every day of the year.  The most frequent Biblical command.  So, yeah, stop fearing!

Sidenote #2:  I’m not afraid of belly buttons, but I’m afraid of not being able to find mine real soon.

This is # 2 on a list of 30 things.  list 3 legitimate fears.