I stopped counting the days since our stay-at-home mandate in California was put in place. It has been for many days. Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions: shame, anxiety, guilt, and even apathy. I’ve screamed at children, cried in the shower, and had a million dance parties. I’ve cried over viral videos on YouTube and lost my cool when I couldn’t keep up with the laundry. Overall, I’d say there is one residual feeling: fear. When will this all be over? What does this mean for my kids’ schooling? Will my husband still have a job? Fear. Fear. Fear.
When fear pops up, I defend or attack it. I feed my fear with Google searches, worst-case scenarios, WebMD, and Dateline. I constantly fear “the bad thing” happening one day in my life. I fear pain, emotional separation, or being controlled by others. I fear my husband dying and my kids getting hurt or not following Jesus. I fear the spread of this virus. I fear not being good enough or letting people down. I worry about a shooter walking into our church sanctuary. I don’t like surprises or when the weather changes unexpectedly. I have a fear of rodents and plane crashes and the sounds outside my window.
My anxiety churns over in my stomach like a wave tumbling and toppling on the shore. When I look at God, others, or myself with eyes of fear, my only responses are to flee, fight, or freeze. I rarely feed my fear with the promises that God is deeply abiding with me, loving me no matter what the circumstances are. I don’t dwell on the truth of God’s provision over my life and my loved ones. But when I see the world with eyes of love, everything is a request for or an offer of love. Love transforms everything into a gift to give or to receive.
At the table of my soul are many voices. Some voices scream while others are hushed. Some of the voices are kind, slow, and observant; others are suspicious, harsh, incriminating, and mean. Most of my life I’ve let the loudest voices have the most power. Voices of people who don’t like me, fear, responsibility, sadness, critical, and self-hating voices are really loud at my table. Quiet voices are grace, anger, love, doubt, confidence, and forgiveness. My fear voice has been so loud for so long, and I’ve fed it with more fear. It’s like my voices of fear and distrust huddle at one end of the table, scheming something awful into happening.
But not anymore. I’m taking the mic back. It’s not good for my soul to let fear have the final say. I’m learning a new way.
Instead of the loudest voices dominating my thoughts, I’m learning to let Jesus and I co-lead the conversation. Every emotion is welcome at the table of my soul, even the most uncomfortable ones. But no one takes over being the boss. No single voice dominates, pushes, or murders another voice. Jesus always gets veto power. He sees the whole picture, my entire purpose, and the path I’m being led on. All the other voices have a secret motive or are shortsighted, but God’s perspective isn’t bound by time and space but by eternity. He is the One guiding the conversation; His voice is the only one that feeds me with love. Every voice is met with love. At the table of my soul, God draws me back together. All of me is welcome, whole, and at home.
When I stay with all of me at the table, the war within me settles. There is a way through fear that doesn’t require me to get rid of it. The goal is never to overcome fear, silence fear, or dominate fear. The goal is to be with my fear with Jesus. This is the only way.
On the next countless day of coronavirus, I let my fear surface. I let it drift in and out of my soul. I don’t shirk it off or push it down. I pull out a chair and stay right there. The process won’t always be pretty. It won’t go perfectly, but I will be with the One who is perfect, and this is good. At the table of my soul, there is love.
The goal is never to overcome fear, silence fear, or dominate fear. The goal is to be with my fear with Jesus. -Anjuli Paschall: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Ann Woleben says
Thank you for sharing your feelings. I am so grateful that Jesus is always sitting with us.
He is always sitting with us. YES.
This is me!! I’ve been praying for peace and calming but the fear sneaks right back up to almost a self sabotaging place. I’ve been asking for my fears to go away, but when you say the goal is to be with Jesus in your fear it puts things into a whole new perspective. Thank you I needed this more than you know!
You are welcome, Stephanie!
Seems as though we are on a similar journey.
Andrea C says
Yes and amen. Jesus is here and has promised always to be. You are experiencing Him in a fresh, beautiful, surrendered way. I like how you envisioned it as a table conversation (goodness, do I miss hosting friends and family at the dinner table), and that you and Jesus will co-lead and control the dialogue. I believe this is one of the things that delights Him most, to hear from His kids. I pray we can all embrace your process during this time, however long it lasts, knowing Jesus and love will outlast this.
I agree. I think God is just so delighted when we open our hearts to Him.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Anjuli, I greatly appreciate your raw honesty. Surely we need that among Christians… and maybe especially women, because we often repress our fears in terms of expressing them. My many fears though have often controlled me. As I read your list of fears, I thought how long I had exactly the same ones . . . though COVID 19 was never on my list (or anyone’s!), for that matter until now. I’ve feared death, myself, and death of my husband, child, mother, and my own death in this virus era. I think you are absolutely right. Fear needs to be admitted to (like the sitting at your table). It should not be repressed but expressed to the Lord. I think though I have a slightly different take on it. I presume that you mean that when love counteracts fear, it is Christ’s love. And Jesus obviously has a seat at your table, actually at the head of your table. I love how you invite him there and don’t hide your other guest of fears from Him. The Bible teaches us that perfect love casts out fear–Christ’s perfect love for us. So, in my case, I surely want to admit my fears to Jesus, who knows them all anyway, but I am not asking mine to take a seat at my table. Rather, I am relying on Him to cast them out. The Lord miraculously healed me of fear at a Christian women’s retreat in Iona, Scotland three years ago. It was an extraordinary healing and freeing of the fear that He showed me had dominated my life (nearly every area of my life) for many years. My fears were not rational. And even if so, Christ has the power to overcome them. The Lord showed me that Satan had erected a stranglehold of fear in my life, and when I gave them to Christ, He overcame them. I know He did not want me to have fear any longer, except fear of the Lord (in the sense of reverence). Jesus has set me free! I don’t even think of those fears anymore. It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I since my conversion to the Lord years before. And when the Lord sets us free, we are free indeed. I never want to be imprisoned by fear again. And thus far I’ve not been. Recently w/ all the fear that most people experience re: the Corona Virus, I could tell that fear was trying to rear its ugly head in my life. But as I gave it to the Lord, He removed it. So I’m thinking, in my own case, I don’t want fear to be a companion at my table. I want the Lord to send it packing. When I am fearful, I am not filled with faith. This is just my opinion and how the Lord has shown me to deal with fear. He has set me free from it. And the Lord has given you a beautiful metaphor to deal with your fear. My post is not a criticism whatever, but I just wanted to take a moment to share how the Lord has dealt with me, personally, and to say that it was remarkable how many fears you and I shared. I think your transparency is rare, and it is surely a blessing!!
Love in Him,
Thank you for your beautiful response! I love how God has transformed your fear. What freedom! Essentially we are saying similar things. More than anything, I don’t want to avoid my fear, but know that God is with me in my fear. I spent a lot of my life avoiding fear. But transformation comes when I find Jesus with me in my fear. May God give us the courage we need for today. Thank you for sharing your experience. It was so encouraging to read.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
You’re so kind and gracious, Anjuli, and I”m glad you received my response in the spirit that you intended it. Yes, that’s it! We just not cower in fear but call on the Lord, and the only way we can do that is to express our fears to Him and know He has not abandoned us in them. He absolutely grants courage! May He continue to encourage you all your days. I notice you have a new book out. I literally just read about that, and now I am having a mentalpause moment, and can’t recall where!! I need to let my fingers do the walking over to Amazon! All the best on your new release.
Beth Williams says
Thank you for sharing raw honesty. Most people are a bit more fearful these days. Hard to know what’s going on in this world anymore. It is alright to admit our fears out loud & to God. He will alleviate them. Only He has the perfect peace to calm our weary souls. Instead of ingesting a lot of bad news I simply read my Bible, pray, work on two Bible Studies & read devotions with hubby. Putting more of God inside me helps me handle all fears. I’m working on getting hubby to trust God in the way I do. He was put on furlough from hospital last week. Now waiting on link for government assistance. Never in 31+ years has he had to do this & he is super fearful. We know that Jesus is the only solution to driving out fear.
Lisa Sarcewicz says
Have you read Hindes Feet On High Places? By Cynthia Hubbard. The main character is little much afraid .Its an allegory. One of my top favorite books.
Thank you for sharing this truth!
Love you friend,
May I suggest you get a hand full of sticky notes & write on them, “The Joy of the Lord is my strength” & stick the notes all over the place as a visual reminder that fear does not come from God. That verse comes from Nehemiah 8:10. The AMP reads as “And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.” Blessings.
Judy M Wagner says
Thank you for reminding us we can fight fear with God’s help. There seems to be so much to fear in the world at anytime and with the virus it seems that fear is heightened even more. I was walking around my garden a few days ago, taking pictures of my remaining spring flowers when I decided to sit at the end of my patio to get a better picture angle of tulips. I turned my head to see a garter (garder) snake leaning against some brick work. I was so startled and frightened, I jumped up! I know they are harmless but it still scared me. I thought how close I was to sitting on it! It didn’t slither away as I expected so I guess I had more fear of it than it did of me. It reminds me that God will always protect us from anything that we fear. That, it is the fear that is worse that the object or things we fear. Keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on the Lord and we will get through this trying fearful time for God has this!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Remember God love you. You are beautiful child of his. The Devil want you feel all this fear. Especially at this time of the Coronavarius. But remember what it say Anjuli in Gods word. Especially in Philippians 4 verse 19 And this same God who takes care of ME will Supply all Your Needs from His Riches which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. New Living version. But same meaning in most Bibles but wrote differently. God will take care of all your needs your money needs for all your bills. You have to pay. Your Husband job. Take care of You your Kids. Not Your greeds. So if you read his word pray leave all your fears and worries at the foot of the cross. Say Lord hear I am. I can’t take this anymore. I taking it out on my family. How I feel it not fair. Please help me to trust you more that you will meet all my needs and my husbands. Help not to let fear get the better of me. I know it not easy. Especially at this time we live in. When the world and things are the way they are. But we have keep trusting God. Keep praying reading his word the Bible standing on his promises. Playing God music more. Not let the Devil whisper in your ear. I have you where I want you in fear. Now where is the God of yours. We have be able to say back to the Devil. I have big mighty God who is looking after me. Will help me get through this. It hard yes. But with God we can and we will get rid of the fear. Xxx
Julie Garmon says
Thank you! Xoxoxo!
Emily B. says
AMEN, sister! This is exactly what God was teaching me last night! His timing is so cool!
Nonie Barbour-Troup says
Thank you! Your honesty was so inspiring and helped me to understand through someone else’s eyes. My daughter and a few others I know have these same fears. I much of the time just am not able to encourage them in the right manner because I seem to not have the right perspective as I should. The Table has given me a very different perspective because Jesus is there too. Psalm 23:4 says ; I will fear no evil, for You (Jesus) are with me. Verse 5 says; You (Jesus) prepare a Table before me in the presence of my enemies . You (Jesus) anoint my head with oil (the Word of God through the Holy Spirit). My cup runs over.
There is the “table” again. King David wrote that from a heart that was like the heart of God but a man that dealt with many enemies.
Thank you Anjuli for helping me see and understand more clearly.
God bless you richly in the Presence of Jesus that makes our enemies flee.
Sandy Rousseau says
I have found you words so healing in so many ways. My story is one in which I struggle with the isolation not so much fear. As a child I learn quickly to love and care for those around me. As I grew into adulthood this became even more a part of who I am. Doing and being busy kept my own pain hidden. Yesterday after listening online to our church service, something broke inside me. With tears falling I heard the Lord saying, “come my precious one, let me hold You close while your tears fall”. There snuggled in His loving arms those areas began to be exposed. Throughout your book there have been moments where I felt those “bandaids” I’d so nicely covered my wounded heart with being removed ever so gently. All along I have carried everyone’s hurts yet stuffing my own in a box. Little did I realize just how much your words written would help me to fully understand that I needed to stop and listen to the Lord’s still small voice. He is here and together we will journey through all this. Thank you so much for being so open, sharing from your heart those things I needed to read at just the right moment. God is using You in a powerful way. I am blessed to have opened the first page and read the word STAY. Each page drew me deeper and deeper into God’s word. I am forever grateful for your openness.
Snuggled in the loving arms of Jesus we sit together, and I hear Him say, “I have waited for this moment”. Tears of JOY fall. Blessed beyond measure.