I recently read a book in which the author asked me to write down the answers to these four questions (you should do it too):
1. What is the worst thing that could happen?
2. So what if that comes true?
3. So what happens because of that?
4. So what happens because of that?
Take a minute. Write them down or make a note in your phone. It’s very telling.
When you reach the end of the ‘so what happens,’ there lies your greatest fear, the one that keeps you in bondage. When you can name that, consider this:
5. Would God be enough for your greatest fear?
It’s not hard for me to come up with the answers to those questions.
1. We lose our daughter
2. My heart would be broken
3. I would miss her and I’m not sure I can handle the pain
4. I would be sad for the rest of my life, and it would be hard for me to be anything but sad.
So there’s my biggest fear. I am afraid of being sad and being unable to be anything but sad.
I know every parent fears losing a child. It’s the worst thing we can imagine. And I know that at any moment I could lose any of my children. It’s different, though, when doctors tell you that you will lose this child because of a terminal diagnosis. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s a different kind of fear. It’s a day-to-day dealing with the fact that I love this child with every part of me, but there is a very real possibility that I may have to let go.
I held her a little longer last night. Sometimes I hold her and smell her and think I never want to forget this moment. My husband asked why I was crying and laughing with her at the same time. It’s because I know that I love her so much that it actually hurts. Joy and pain intermingling. Sometimes it’s an excruciating place to live—-between loving so deeply and knowing that it could end. But the beautiful part of it is that I know I’ve experienced a deep love. And I can be grateful for that. The kind that I think can only be found in brokenness, in mourning, in fighting for every little thing.
You probably are not in the same situation, but I am sure there is something that you deeply fear losing.
I spent yesterday asking God, “Will you be enough? Will I be OK if my worst fear is realized?”
And the agonizing answer was yes. God reminded me how he has been enough for me, living with my daughter’s terminal diagnosis, and He will be enough for me every day, no matter what comes. If I let Him. That’s been the key for me. He is enough for me when I allow him to be. When I ask Him to be.
If I try to carry my pain on my own, it’s messy and ugly. But I have to believe that no matter what comes my way, He will be enough and He can be trusted. I have to believe that. Our lives roll along and sometimes we get thrown a curve ball. That curve ball doesn’t define us. But what we do next can. In my experience, I’ve realized that I choose whether I trust God in each situation. I choose trust or fear. I also get to choose my perspective–to look for the goodness, or to stay worried and angry.
But the even cooler part is that it is God who makes our hardest things good. Not just OK and smoothed over, but He promised us that he would cause all things to work together for our good if we love him and we are called according to his purpose. He makes all those curve balls good for us. If we allow it. I think that’s why he added the qualifier “to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Because we all know that we can choose bitterness and anger and worry, which are places where it’s really hard for beautiful things to grow.
I’ve noticed something different about people who truly trust God. Their core identity is different from everyone else in the world. They are free to live and love and be in a way that makes people pay attention. When you meet someone like that, you just know. I remember when I was a teenager, I was flying with my parents. The plane was dropping and shifting and bouncing all over the sky. I was white-knuckling the arm rests and reminding myself to breathe. My mom was reading a book, unfazed. I asked her, “How can you not be scared, Mom?” She answered me, “I trust God.”
I asked, “But what if we die?!?”
She responded, “I trust God with that too.”
She didn’t give me stats about plane safety or weather conditions or probabilities. It was just that she trusted God with our lives. I will never forget that. Her life is defined by trusting God. It is the core of who she is, so she doesn’t worry about life and death. What a revolutionary way to live.
No more fear
And you know what the truth is? Just because some doctors say my child will have a short life does not make it so. The power of life and death is in God’s hands. She could grow up to be an old woman, and I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “Well, I sure wasted a lot of good days fearing death.” That would be a waste of a gift. That would be a stain on a miracle. I don’t want to do that. What does life look like, then, when we remove even our biggest fears from the equation? If fear is no longer holding us in bondage, then how would our lives look different? It seems to me, it is then that God sets us totally free. I know it’s possible, but it has to be a lifelong journey toward fully trusting God to be enough. Day by day, moment by moment, thought by thought. No more fear.