Welcome to another episode of Mary’s Musings. I prepare for this blog by rummaging through my notes from books I am reading, music I listen to, and thoughts scribbled on napkins, backs of envelopes and sometimes from an actual notebook that doubles as my journal.
The theme of this week’s scramble has turned out to be a repetitive core issue for me since as long as I can remember—a recurring struggle with loneliness and fear. I offer my thoughts today that have come out of my struggle to make sense of connection with God while I am lonely and afraid. You can see me speaking about this topic here.
Living with anxiety is not something I am willing to accept. I hear and read the comments sneaking in from all directions about a “new normal” and that things “will never get back to normal,” all bringing with it an edge of fear and fatalism.
Put me on the record of refusing to fear and refusing to settle for the isolation that threatens to engulf us. I believe instead of the promises of God Who is our security and our hope and gives us purpose in the moment of suffering and uncertainty.
But yet……, there is fear alright! I can’t deny it. It doesn’t take long to come up with what I might be afraid of:
- my stage in life carries with it wonderings about continued health—my own health and that of my loved ones;
- a pandemic and our reaction to it seems to have kidnapped us, held us hostage, and we don’t know for how long, nor what we can do about it… I fear this feeling will swallow me up—feeling trapped and alone;
- as I seek the Lord’s provision, I am afraid that the seeking will be a fruitless struggle to find meaning and purpose in what’s happening —the costs keep piling up;
- I am afraid for the future of my family, our country; and…. my worst fear:
- I am afraid the Body of Christ—the greater Body of Christ in the world—that we won’t rise to the occasion and testify in a meaningful, relevant way, to the only lasting provision for any of these fears—God the Father, his son Jesus, and our helper and guide, the Spirit!
My search for meaning also takes me to Scripture. Hear the words of Paul to Timothy as the Lord reassuring you:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1 2)
“…. I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Tim 12)
And the search for meaning and purpose take me to the thoughts of others who seem to have been where I have been and are farther along in the journey:
Quoting from Paul Tournier in his book, Escape from Loneliness:
“….man’s loneliness is linked with fear. [people] fear one another, fear to be crushed in life, fear to be misunderstood.” “….fear is a universal and natural feeling, …….though everyone seeks to hide it.” “Thus, fear breeds loneliness and conflict; ….loneliness and conflict breed fear. …. To heal the world, we must give [people] an answer to fear and restore among them the sense of community.” (Paul Tournier, 1898-1986, Escape from Loneliness, 1948, translated into English in 1950s)
I could say so much more about the “sense of community” Tournier offers as the solution. I believe it is the culmination of the very purposes of God for us as His creation. In close intimate relationship, in belonging with Him and with each other. That’s the antidote to fear and loneliness.
Tournier goes on to offer guidance and hope elsewhere in his writings that,
- “Christian faith does not involve repressing one’s anxiety in order to appear strong. …… On the contrary, it means recognizing one’s weakness, accepting the inward truth about oneself, confessing one’s anxiety, and still to believe, that is to say that the Christian puts his trust not in his own strength, but in the grace of God.”
No hiding here; in discussion with a trusted friend, mentor, and in openness, …. while still pursuing Christ.. all this is God’s provision.
- “Life can become once more a grand adventure if we will surrender it to God. He brings one adventure to an end, only to open another to us. With him we must be ready for anything.” “The adventurous life is not one exempt from fear, but on the contrary, one that is lived in full knowledge of fears of all kinds, one in which we go forward in spite of our fears.”
That’s what I want to experience; climbing onto God’s wagon for a safari, a grand adventure. I want to have vision for what is opening before us! So we march on, like the title to a book with a title I loved, Feel the Fear; and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers.
So, I am stabilized again by reminders of how God has spoken to me before, through His word, often as communicated through the writings of saints who have gone on before us. And having been stabilized in Him; let’s launch out anew every day on the great adventure of following Him in every small and big thing he sets before us.
Founding DirectorMary is one of the founders of Where Grace Abounds and served as Executive Director from its inception on July, 1986 through March 31st, 2007. She speaks and teaches at churches and conferences across the country. She has also served on several boards of non-profit organizations, is a conference speaker on a variety of topics that include: Intimacy with God, Healthy Sexuality, and leadership development. Currently serving in leadership in her denomination, Mary’s favorite ministry roles are discipleship counseling, group facilitation, and leadership development. Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University. Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.
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