Hi friends! This post is part of a 7-week series on overcoming fear in which a few friends will be dropping by as guest bloggers. Please visit their blogs, linked at the bottom of their posts here, if you’d like to hear more from them. Here’s to getting a little more free from fear together. – Bree
When God Gives You What You Need Instead of What You Asked For by Lesley Islas
I spent the first 36 years of my life merely surviving, trying to muster up enough will to live, to get out of bed, and to try and be a decent person. The manipulation, untruths, and trauma of my childhood had me tangled in a web of shame, co-dependency, loneliness, and despair. I walked around attempting to mask my fear of so many things – mostly people and all the ways they could break my heart.
That kind of heaviness weighs on a person – for me the weight was both emotional and physical. From the age of five until just recently, I steadily gained weight in both capacities. The pounds on my body became a protective barrier from the kind of people who frightened me and the emotional baggage became an excuse to retaliate, run, and burn bridges at the first sign of rejection.
The thing is… that’s not a very fun way to live. That kind of life doesn’t embrace the abundance Jesus died to offer us. I knew that. I felt that truth in my bones. I knew the life I was living didn’t line up with who God said He was or who He said I was, but I couldn’t see any other way. Fear had paralyzed me. Fear had convinced me that the life I was given was not worth living.
On a Sunday afternoon in September 2017, I found myself in the middle of a medical emergency. My blood pressure was well over twice the numbers considered normal – stroke range. In the midst of this physical ordeal, I was begging, pleading, bargaining, and crying out to God to take my life. This was His chance. I was done. Done fighting. Done pretending to be okay when I wasn’t. Done feeling broken and inadequate. I could not live in fear any longer. My solution was death. God’s solution was life.
Something shifted in me that day. God didn’t give in to my desire to give up, instead He revealed Himself to me in a new and different way. I walked out of the hospital with a new perspective. If I was broken, unworthy, unlovable, a burden, a charity case – all those things I had previously believed about myself – then why would God spare my life? He wouldn’t. If God is a loving Father and I was better off dead then He would not have let me live. But he did.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This scripture can sting when your in a place where you’re not sure if you believe God is always good. But when you decide to trust that God is FOR you, that He is sovereign – these words bring so much hope.
I decided that day last September that if I was going to be highly encouraged by God to keep this life I had been given then I was NOT going to live it in fear. I decided to live truly surrendered to God – to trust His goodness, to trust His ability to protect me, and to trust His plans for me. That surrender has led to immeasurably more than I could have hoped for or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20)
Today I am starting the pre-op diet for my upcoming gastric bypass surgery that will take place on December 10th, 2018. Several people will be waiting and praying at the hospital while I am in surgery. After I am released from the hospital, I will be going to stay with a couple who have taken me into their lives and overwhelmingly shown me what love really looks like. They asked me to come stay with them after surgery so they could care for me and be with me as I recover – not because I needed them too but because they wanted to.
These friends, and all the others God has placed in my life, are not perfect. They are very much still humans who sometimes cause me to hold my breath in anticipation of rejection. Occasionally, I still expect the worst. But I have learned to stop and take a moment, to not react out of my feelings, and to check in with a trusted mentor when I get too anxious about a particular situation. I am learning to let God into the moments where fear tries to creep in and to let His peace that is beyond my understanding (Philippians 4:7) be a comfort and a protection.
In Psalm 34:4 the psalmist writes “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” The same is true for me. He didn’t answer the way I wanted Him to, but He answered the way I needed. And, I am SO grateful.
Lesley Islas is an Early Childhood Educator who loves living life in sweet Wimberley, Texas. Her favorite things include: holding sleeping babies, genuine laughter, honest tears, and holding hands. She writes honestly and vulnerably out of her own experience. Find past blog posts at: https://lesleyislas.blogspot.com.