Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Waking up between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 am after an oddly realistic nightmare became normal to me as a teenager. Not easy. Normal.
For years—and mostly my formative years—I struggled with crippling, irrational fear. Some called it a form of anxiety, and others called it being a baby. I called it both and also embarrassing. I called it the reason I couldn’t watch scary movies or why I shied away from watching Criminal Minds with my family.
My fear was only experienced within loneliness. The minute another person joined me, I was good. My thoughts that swirled my mind suddenly subsided, and I became okay. And yet it was people I feared the most. I feared someone intruding our home. I feared the things that you see in scary TV fiction or crime documentaries.
Soon enough, I became a master at distracting myself, learning that being on the phone helped. I found that watching TV with my back against the wall so I could see everything around me did wonders. I did pray. I did recite scripture. Yet for some reason, it didn’t seem to take care of my fear much.
I got to the point of such frustration that I wanted to stop going to the Lord completely. In the daytime, I was good. I was with Him, and He was with me. At night, I could not seem to find Him. So I gave up and retreated to my own ways.
The problem was that I was treating reading the Bible and reciting scripture as if it were a ritual to get rid of my problem. I was trying to remedy it away by making my God into a tool of the world. I recited verses like, “I will lift my eyes up to the hills, for where comes my help? My help comes from the Lord…” thinking that by saying those words I would be healed of this thorn in my side.
But the thorn remained no matter how many verses hollowly flowed from my lips.
There was not one light switch night that I can remember. It didn’t come to me like you might think—in a cloud or pillar of fire. It was like little whispers into my soul. “Ask for me, Lauren. Ask for my presence.”
But, Lord. If you are telling me to ask for your presence, is that not proof that you are already here? So why do I still feel so alone?
It was the recognizing of God’s presence that I was missing out on. I was telling God that I knew He would be my helper, but my words were empty. I was not asking Him to hold me. I was more concerned with the company of people—people who always somehow left me alone again—then I was with the companionship of God.
Slowly, in my loneliness and fear, God began to teach me what it looks like to live in my day-to-day, and even night-to-night, as a loved daughter of a King. It sounds so simple, and I am positive that I would have laughed in my own face if I read this text as a 16-year-old.
Through His Spirit, I began to see that living loved is the only way to overcome our fears.
It is a lifestyle of togetherness with the Father by the sacrifice of His Son. It is laying in bed and knowing that I am not alone. That I am in better company with only Jesus than I am with the bodies that I use to distract me of my distrust.
Living loved is living every day in light of the death that Jesus died. He died so that we do not have to enter into the holy of holies to meet with Him. We meet with Him in the stillness of our bedrooms. We meet with Him despite the fear that rules our hearts. We meet with Him when our flesh is far from holy, but our souls are made blameless by the blood of the Lamb.
Living loved is worshipping when we want to scream. It is praying when we want to escape to our screens. It is trusting when sin and death have left us with nothing to put hope in. Nothing that we can see with our bare eyes at least.
Living loved is not doing the things we think we should do to rid ourselves of this world’s afflictions. It is praying because Christ is our companion. It is reading because His Word is our lifeline. It is memorizing scripture because that is the truest meditation.
Living loved is worshipping when we want to scream. It is praying when we want to escape to our screens. It is trusting when sin and death have left us with nothing to put hope in. -Lauren Groves
Living loved means that our fears will eventually leave because His peace enters. It means we won’t be able to explain why we can now sleep all the way through the night. It means we give up our remedies and cures for the things with which we struggle.
Living loved is basking in His presence.
There is no formula. There no step by step process. There is only listening for His whisper into our souls.
Don’t stop basking in His presence. Don’t stop living loved.
Waking up between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 am is no longer normal to me. But when it does happen, it is the presence of my Father that sings me back to sleep.
Lauren is a young newlywed and Christ-follower that Blogs over at Living Loved. Her loves are her husband, Austin Groves, sharing stories, learning how to make the best of her lifestyle, and enjoying the gifts of this world while knowing this world is not our home. With her blog, she desires to connect wives with single ladies with students with mothers with whoever else wants in.