Earlier this week my girlfriends and I had the best experience! We got together and sat at the feet of one of the most influential, precious, honest, and loving teachers of all time. I’m talking about Jen Hatmaker! It was big. Some of you may be going, “I’ve heard that name, where have I heard that name!?” Well, she’s gotten quite a bit of attention recently in the Christian community, and otherwise, after she came out in support of the LGBT community- specifically supporting homosexual marriage. This almost broke the internet, y’all. People lost their minds! Some were absolutely gung-ho, hurray, hallelujah! Others were all “Off with her head!” Major figures in the faith had varying reactions that further polarized an already divisive and sensitive people. Oh. My. Gosh. Can’t we all just get along!?
Jen’s response to the backlash from her article (here) was beautiful! In fact, it made me love her more. So, when on of my girlfriends heard she was coming to speak down the street, she jumped into action and bought our tickets!
I wasn’t sure going into the auditorium what to expect. I had high hopes, no doubt, but I found them exceeded within minutes. Jen’s message was powerful, truthful, and exceedingly redeeming. Every word that came out of her mouth spoke to my dry and weary soul. Her message? Overcoming fear. The result? One overwhelmed and emotional Mollie.
Basically, we all have an island containing people/ things that we “protect” with copious amounts of prayer and surveillance. These are essentially the things that we say to God “take anything but this”. Health, husband, children, job, home, etc. And we think if we fret over them, pray over them, watch over them that they are immune from the hazards and destruction of real life. When these things (these idols) don’t turn out the way we want them to, don’t go according to plan, don’t remain untouched by the enemy, we turn to fear. “God must not have heard me, he must not care about me, therefore it is up to me.” Hope and trust in His providence, His protection, His care, diminish. And you become overwhelmed, afraid, and maybe (probably) even angry.
This hit me like a ton of bricks. My mind raced over the last 13 months of my life. I was a stay at home mom to two children, pregnant with the third when my husband lost his job in the oil and gas industry. Our monthly expenses were increasing and our income was dwindling. I delivered a healthy baby boy and came home to a loving family, yet the depths of postpartum depression held me captive for months. We struggled, and worried, and wondered when the break would come. My husband worked tirelessly to provide for our family, and often it wasn’t enough to pay the bills. I struggled to see how things would get any better.
Turning the page into 2017, I cried out for some hope. Some verse, some word, some song, something to give me the motivation and courage to keep going. The word He gave me? Enough. I took that to mean that I have enough, that I am enough. But after leaving the auditorium on January 23, 2017 that word took on new meaning for me. Enough. I Am enough. Not me, but He. He is enough. And I need not fear.
Jen’s message of overcoming fear was simple. When things don’t turn out how we thought they would, when hope becomes absent and fear ever-present, we are to:
1) Declare His Goodness. Claim this as truth! No matter what the circumstances, He’s good. He’s just. He loves you. He sees you. He’s with you. Any one of these declarations is powerful. It’s meaningful, and it’s the first step to walking back the fear and anxiety that comes with uncertainty, failure, and brokenness.
2) Find Community. It’s in isolation that our problems seem insurmountable. The enemy wants this for you and for me! We’ve got to find our people. Loving, honest, trustworthy people. This can be tough, especially if you’ve been burned by closeness in the past, but we were created to be in community. We are not supposed to be in this alone.
3) Confess. Vulnerability is so key in this process. Not only does it free you but it allows others to be free of the mask they too are wearing. There is no other people so adept at hiding than the Church. There has been a premium placed on appearances, and I promise you that the only thing this accomplishes is more fear, shame, and dishonesty among members. This is the opposite of how Jesus called us to live! Find people who will pray for you, love you, and challenge you.
So there it was, right in front of me. The message my heart needed to hear. Declare His goodness. Find my community. Confess my fears. Okay, but I thought I was doing that? I haven’t ever been one to really shy away from telling others the truth about my struggles. And they go back a long way! Control, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, the list could go on. But honestly, I was hiding. I was hiding behind false honesty. What? Is that a thing? I think it is, because no matter how much confessing I did, how many prayers I prayed, I still felt like it was up to me. I could fix what was broken. I could try harder, be more. False. God, not so gently, reminded me this night that He is in control. Only He can fix what is broken. And He gave me this word, again: Enough. I Am enough. And then he reminded me of a verse that began to stir in my soul at the start of this new year: I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… (Joel 2:25 ESV). This brought such peace over me. I referred to 2016 as our locust year recently, and immediately this verse came to mind. I have been dwelling on it for weeks, but not believing it to be true until I heard Jen say “You have to declare these things. God is who He says He is. He can do what he says He can do. He has not given you a spirit of fear! (2 Tim. 1:7)
So see, sometimes He takes our idols of comfort, of money, of job security, our marriage, our children, and He allows them to be eaten by the locust (translation: stripped away from their unholy place in our lives) to show you that He’s in control. He knows what’s best. He has a plan. I keep thinking that I’ve learned this lesson a thousand times, but every time it hits me like a ton of bricks!
Maybe there are things you have on your island that are about to, or already have, fallen into the ocean. Maybe you are overcome with fear of the future. Maybe you are paralyzed by all the emotions that come with the loss of false security. Maybe your marriage is struggling. Maybe your child is sick. Maybe you have been turned down for that job you thought was a guarantee. All of these matter to God. They do! And He doesn’t want you to worry. He doesn’t want you to wallow. He’s got this! And He’s got you.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:32 ESV