Befriending Fear or Faith?

A circa 1970 pic of my sister and I with atrocious bangs. (I’m the one on the left.)

Was she asleep?

My four-year-old brain struggled to process what had occurred. We were sitting outside the Tutbury* Police station when my mother slumped backward at an awkward angle while her sunflower yellow dress threatened to capsize over her head. I tried smoothing it down and calling to her as people rushed past us.

Earlier that day, she had lost her gold watch. A potent blend of fear of my father’s rage and regret over the loss overwhelmed her, causing the fainting spell. Eventually, a policeman came to our aid with smelling salts.
Fear and fretfulness were part of my daily life growing up.

What do I do when I feel fearful?

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
Psalm 37:1-5 ESV

As an adult, I have a tendency to fret. If there was a fretters’ anonymous group, I might be a member. But, instead, fretting is anxiously anticipating my own inabilities.

  • What if I make a mistake?
  • What if I don’t have enough time?
  • What if I forget?
  • What if I fail in some way that cannot be redeemed?

Fretting is to worry, and it can also mean to wear away at something by rubbing or gnawing. Obsessively fretting can certainly wear a groove in my mind that is all too easy to find and get back to over and over.

Reviewing a past event on repeat leads to a cycle of unending questions.

  • Did I say the right thing? What if I offended her?
  • Did he misunderstand me?
  • Do I need to go back and explain?
  • Often fretting is self-focused, but sometimes it lends itself to comparison.

Fretting about other people’s actions that I simply can’t control is a sign of a lack of boundaries on my part. How often have I worried about other people’s feelings that I could do nothing to fix? (Can you tell I’m reading the bestseller Boundaries?)

In Psalm 37, the psalmist offers an antidote for fretting.

Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Psalm 37:3 ESV

Dwell

This word means to remain, stay, linger, and be still. When fear takes the upper hand in my life and triggers a cycle of fretfulness, dwelling in God’s presence brings a needed pause.

Befriending faithfulness

How do I make friends with faithfulness? Spending time focused on my faith and, in so doing, building it up like a muscle. For me, that might mean making a list of blessings. It is all too easy for me to see the glass of my life as half full when it is, in fact, overflowing in ways that I might overlook right away. Reading and reviewing God’s word and seeking his promises can also change my perspective. The next few verses of Psalm 37 are rich with promises of how God will champion me as I choose to focus on faith and let go of fretfulness.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
Psalm 37: 4-5 ESV

Prayer

Lord, will you help me to delight in you and commit to your ways of doing life? Give me the ability to trust more and be fretless. Rewire my default setting. May I be found to be befriending faithfulness at every opportunity you kindly lay before me? Amen.

How about you, how do you friend faithfulness in the face of fear?

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