Fear not.

I had a tough time sleeping when I was a kid. I wasn't afraid of the dark, but I did not like the quiet of night. My issues were more than being a light sleeper, one easily disturbed. No, I found it hard to rest because I was always vigilant. I feared burglars.

I grew up in a two bedroom apartment on the 1st floor of a two story, 4 unit building off the state highway between a school bus station across the street and a forest that surrounded the town's reservoir. I lived there until we moved to another part of town when I was 13. The woods were such a great place to play and explore. However, when I was small, I heard adults talking about burglars, in our apartment complex. Somehow, I learned about rapists too, maybe from that episode of Little House on the Prairie. My dad worked swing shifts so for a week or two every month he was not home at night. Maybe when he was home I felt more secure and slept better. I don't remember. I do remember many little noises. Before I knew about the settling of houses, the shuffle of mice, and the force of wind, I laid in bed trying to determine if the noises were coming from a man slowly moving around my home, seeking to harm me, my little brother, and my mom. I was paralyzed in my bed. Fear froze me. Self-control froze me. I did not want to make any of my own noises to attract the attention of the criminal just outside my door.

I listened. I planned - can I throw my blanket over his head? can I hurl one of my brother's toys at his eye to give us time to escape? I prayed a little as well. I grew up believing in Jesus. I'm sure he heard my prayers. Eventually, I always fell back to sleep. The noises never stopped. My tolerance for them did though.

I'm a scientist now. One of the things I account for in my experiments is noise. When I inject samples, my mass spectrometer detects many peaks, but I only care for peaks that are at least three times bigger than all that static. If I chased down every peak in the noise, the static, the background, I would not get anything done, and I have so much to do at my job.

As an adult, in America, in the conservative, evangelical branch of Jesus' church, I learned to fear again. I was taught from the Bible to not fear. However, there were many exceptions. I didn't need to fear for money or job security or safety. But I should be vigilant for those who would steal my faith - Catholics, liberals, Democrats, the gay agenda, those with different understandings of Jesus and of the Bible. I was constantly on the lookout for wolves in sheeps' clothing. If a sheep made an abundant living off of other sheep, he wasn't a wolf. If a sheep asked to be treated as an equal, she was really a wolf, undermining the authority of scripture. I've decided to stop being afraid. I've decided to see what happens if I actually trust Jesus and his command not to worry about all this stuff.

I'm not very good at it though. I still worry about my kids. I worry about my bills. But at least I'm not worrying about crappy government, stupid Supreme Court decisions, evolution in our schools, or the gay agenda. I'm trying to live by a few rules. Love God. Love my neighbor. Fear not. I'd like to add "judge not" to my list, but I'm such a judgmental person. I used to judge the liberals, now I judge the conservatives. If I get the love my neighbor part right, I think the judging issue goes away.

Jesus talks about thieves. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. John 10:10 Cultural paranoia did not give me abundant life. It robbed me of sleep. Fear deprived me of peace as a kid and it did the same for me as an adult. The antidote to fear is love. John the Beloved Apostle wrote in his little epistle, perfect love casts out fear, 1 John 4:18. I want to live in love.

Who are the wolves? Fear peddlers. Sheep eaters.
Who will protect us? The good shepherd.*

* I am not saying burglars shouldn't be reported to the police, or that wolves should be given free reign. It's not judgmental to report what a wolf did. There is nothing wrong with sheep baaaa-ing loudly on the internet calling attention to wolves. Baaaa - that pastor slandered me and it hurt. Baaaa- that pastor protected the person who molested me. Baaa - that pastor has the richest lifestyle of anyone in the congregation. Baaaa - that pastor copied my words and called them his own and made money off of it. Baaaa.

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