Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let your hair down

I wrote this a while back for Internet Cafe. Considering the headlines today, it seemed timely to rerun it.

There was a very famous newscaster in Houston who was on the air for years and years. If you grew up here you knew him from your earliest childhood. He was a very kind man and did great things for the community until his recent death. He was also a local character. So much so that I saw him once on the sidewalk outside Walgreens and I just froze in awe. It was as surreal as if I had seen Bugs Bunny picking out produce at the grocery store. He always wore loud suits and ties, blue tinted glasses, and a very white, very luxurious wig.

Well, we are in Texas, y'all.

Recently I heard an interesting story about him: When he first started appearing on the air, he had a phobia that is common to man. He feared that he would go bald, and the entire city would watch the eventual demise of his glorious mane. So, to avoid that humiliation, he began wearing a wig, so that no one would be able to tell whenever it happened.

Guess what? It never happened. He never lost his hair. For decades, he awoke every morning and put a hot, sweaty, piece of synthetic on top of his real, perfectly nice hair, in a city where 100 degree temperatures are the norm. All because of fear. Crazy, huh? So irrational.

Aren't most fears just that? So irrational?

In this country, we all love a good scare. If you believed the media hype, California should have fallen into the sea long ago while the rest of us were chased by killer bees who stung our flesh-eating bacteria ridden arms. The only reason that we haven't all starved from the Population Explosion is because of SARS or Bird Flu. And I would have thought that Y2K or the Second Ice Age would have wiped us all out before we even had a chance to worry about Global Warming.

Those of us who become mothers face another onslaught. If the coffee I drank when I was pregnant didn't ruin my children surely all those toxic plastic bottles and pacifiers will. And what about that bacteria they consumed when I gave them baby food from a jar they had eaten from previously? And don't get me started on the future calamity I inflicted upon them because I couldn't breastfeed.

We just love a good scare.

And then there are the more personal scares: fears of death; fears of cancer; fears of losing our children, our husbands, our jobs, and our material wealth; abductions; failure; shame; not being a good mother; what other people think; insert your's here - I know you have a list like I do.

How much time do we waste on fear and worry?

I am not saying that we should be irresponsible and just stop wearing our seat belts or eating our green leafy vegetables - no. Not at all. It is our duty to prevent as much evil from happening as we have the power to do. I do believe that the majority of our fears, however, have a minute chance of happening - regardless of how much we worry about them.

Chances are we will never lose our proverbial hair. Yet, we walk around sweating under big stinky wigs because of the "it could happens."

Personally, I have dealt with paralyzing fear of losing one of my children. Could it happen? Of course it could. Have the hours I have spent lying in the dark worrying prevented it from happening, even one tiny bit? Nope. All it did was rob me of my much needed sleep.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who saw the majority of her worst fears realized in Nazi Germany, had this to say about worry:

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.
It empties today of its strength.
Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.

Oh, what a waste of time!

What does the the Lord say about it?

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
Hebrews 13:5-6

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:31-34

I could go on and on. Phrases such as "fear not", "do not be afraid" and "do not fear" are mentioned more than 100 times in the bible. We are commanded not to fear even more than we are commanded to love!

I think we begin to fear when we forget to trust. I must remind myself - daily - that God is sovereign over all, that not a hair falls from my head without his will, that he is in control of and has ordained every single detail of my life, and will use any trial that does come my way for my sanctification and for his glory.

I can choose to meditate on my worries or I can meditate on the goodness and strength of a Father who loved me so much, he sent his only son to face the worst fears imaginable.

Only then can I take off my hot, stinky wig and rejoice as I shake my hair in freedom.

As Ms. Ten Boom said,

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

  1. Make a list of your fears, either irrational or reasonable.
  2. Confess your lack of trust and pray for forgiveness and the ability to repent.
  3. One by one, ask the Father to send you a spirit of peace, power, love and self-control.
  4. Find some verses to commit to memory that you can speak to your spirit when the worry begins to sneak in.

With thanks to Gary Thomas for his inspirational thoughts on fear.


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