Fear

So much of what I write on this blog is hard for me to admit. Certainly, I don’t want people to always see the real me. I would rather show just enough to demonstrate that I can empathize with your plights and then extend my chest to show how my strength remains. But on some days I don’t have any strength. Some days I am weaker than any of you. The problem is that I forget these days when and if they pass. When this happens, I lose a part of me and am not able to be honest with myself.

Fear. I have never really known what it is like to be afraid. Of course, I have been scared. I suppose the most fear I have ever had was the day I attempted to disarm a man who was threatening suicide. I had never been shot at before. Now, I have. It was scary. But all is well, and the man is okay.

However, today, I am scared. I know what you are going to ask. The same thing I would ask you: “Scared of what?” I wish I could tell you. The best I can express it is to say that I am scared of living. I am scared of the future. I am scared of myself. It started a couple of weeks ago. There was a nagging insecurity about my future. I began to think that my life was unstable, irresponsible, and filled with stupid decisions that have created a situation of unrest.

Can I take care of Kristie and the kids? Am I going to be able to put bread on the table? Have I invested enough in their lives? Who am I to think I can take care of my mother? Is it too late to make up for all of my mistakes? Is the real me a fake? Have I bitten off more than I can chew in about every area? Who will be there for all those I hold up if I were to die?

Are these irrational thoughts? Well, if you ask the good, spiritual, stable me, I would say, yes. I would say that though circumstances may be difficult, God is my Helper. I would continue: It all shows how much I am really trusting in myself and not in the Lord. God is allowing me to go through all of this so that my self-reliance may be revealed and Christ’s Lordship may extend to my life in a way that has not been the case until this point.

Maybe, these things are true. My dad died in November. It was one of those freak pneumonia things. It all happened so quickly. Though my dad was never much of a mentor (the understatement of the year) and I never saw him on his knees (a nice way to put the absence of spirituality in his life), I am coming to realize how much I depended on him. For what? I don’t know. Perhaps, I just wanted him to be a living dad who could come to my rescue, when I needed him. Rescue from what? I don’t know. Perhaps, it was life, itself. Really, I suppose that I felt that if I was ever found out to be a charlatan, he would still be my dad, and I could still stand on his shoulders. It is amazing to see how much weight we place on dads. How big they are to us even if we never consciously realize it.

But dad is gone, and I am scared.

I read in Psalms last night like I had never read them before. David was scared so often. He pleaded with God to restore his security. He argued with God, when he felt he was sinking into a mire of hopelessness that ended in death. “Will the ground praise you, Lord? If I die, will the ground praise you? It would be to your advantage to restore me!”

I am scared. For the first time in my life I am really afraid. Can you believe this? I have taught theology, truth, apologetics, about depression and doubt, and preached the word for over 15 years and today, I am more afraid than I have ever been.

I don’t know how to deal with this, but I do know that I will get through it. At the very least, I realize that I am certainly not some spiritual giant who only comes to the aid of others. I need others to come to my aid just as much. I will see if my insecurity can transform itself to become my strength. I will transfer trust to the degree that the Lord opens new doors of opportunity. I will set my feet upon a rock and maybe, just maybe, for the first time the Lord will be the one who makes my footsteps firm.

What a crazy, wonderful faith we have. It certainly does not lack in dynamics. Our Lord spares none of His children to learn the most humiliating of lessons. I clinch my fist and just raise it so high. I know better than that. However, I will be glad when either the circumstances, or the psychology of my life changes, that this fear will flee from my life.

I catalogue these thoughts so that I will never forget. I write this for my children to read in the future (I don’t want them to know that “dad” is so vulnerable right now).

And to all those who work for me and are reading this: the Lord is our rock. He will lift us all up in His time.

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C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.

Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    32 replies to "Scared"

    • Irene

      There’s an awesome song that is a favorite at mass called One Body. It’s energetic, assertive. Actually goes well with guitar and drums. It goes, ” We are one body, one body in Christ, and we do not stand alone…”

      Jesus, Mary, Joseph,

      Please take care of Michael. Let him feel your love, -the love of a father, a mother, and a brother. Amen.

    • Elizabeth

      Michael, thank you for your honesty. It is really frightening to share something this personal online for all the world to see. You are a very brave man to have done this.

      I wish I could say something to make you feel better, but you already know everything I could tell you about God being there for us, and being our true Father. Of course, the things you know don’t always affect how you feel. I’ve experienced a lot of the same things, both with depression and with that nameless terror that makes life itself feel frightening. I just prayed for you to be brave and faithful and to feel His love and comfort. Please know you’re not alone.

    • Mike O

      Best line: “I catalogue these thoughts so that I will never forget.”

      I actually have “Don’t forget” tattooed on my arm. The narrative of scripture has a thread of forgetfulness running through God’s people. Nehemiah 9 is a great chapter to read on this topic.

      Speaking of cataloguing, I would recommend going back and reading all the blessings you have catalogued in this blog. God IS good! God HAS BEEN good! God WILL BE good! Remember that.

      That doesn’t take away the pain of today, but it will give you handles to hold on to through today.

      And when the days are good again, remember this.

    • a.

      May the Lord Himself, His word, His Spirit comfort and strengthen you even this day.

      The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. Psalm 28 7-9

    • Irene

      There’s an awesome song that is a favorite at mass. It’s energetic, assertive. Actually sounds good with guitar and drums. It’s called We Are One Body, and it goes, “We are one body, one body in Christ, and we do not stand alone…”

      Jesus, Mary, Joseph,
      Please take care of Michael. Help him feel your love -the love of a father, a mother, and a brother. Amen.

    • Steve Martin

      In so many ways, we are like those cowering disciples in the Upper Room.

      And Jesus shows up…time and time again says, “Shalom!”

    • Tres

      It may help to read Retraining the Brain by Dr. Frank Lawlis. The way music, especially drums can help is interesting. I am thankful that you are careful about the anti depressants. (Me too, and know of others that it was not a good thing for them but thankful God helped them get off the meds) You may already know but Dr. Frank Lawlis is the chief content advisor for the Dr. Phil Show. Thanks for being honest about yourself. It makes me feel less odd to know there are others that experience this too. But sorry others go through it too.

    • Jeremy

      There are many reasons for fear. I am reminded of Job’s comment :

      For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
      I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
      Job 3:25-26

      And possibly of note to you, what is the immediate response of the first of Job’s “comforters”?

      Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
      If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking?
      Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
      Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
      But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.
      Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?
      Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?
      Job 4:1-7

      Apparently Job had comforted and taught others in possibly the same way you have – without firsthand experience of that with which others were struggling. Eliphaz is quick to point out (being, I think, the unwitting mouthpiece of Satan) Job’s seeming hypocrisy. He looks for some sin, some failure in Job to give reason for this catastrophe. There is something of condemnation in his “comfort”.

      The thing is, we are often aware of the precipice on which we stand more often than not – sort of like being in the boat with the storm all the time and God seeming to be asleep more often than not. And it might be the enemy, it might just be our flesh, but in the end, it doesn’t mean we are useless to God even if our faith is weak. Job was both chastized by God (“Where were you…”) and praised by Him (“You have not spoken of Me what is right, like my servant Job has…”) and there was repentance that Job had to offer up after he found his understanding of God less than sufficient for the crisis…

    • Michael,

      Thank you for your transparency. Fear is a good thing. Fear of God is a great thing. Knowing who you are with all of the funk and shortcomings is the stuff that makes a man real. Over the years I’ve noticed that you have a strength that comes out whenever your bear your soul for us to read, and from that comes your blessings to the rest of us. God does use us in His own way, and we often are unaware of His doings through us. Your ministry has been one of my reliable places to read about the things that I feel, yet I too am scared of things. Scared to write down my feelings and shortcomings. I pray for boldness, yet often what I find is that others can articulate it better, so I copy-n-paste on my FaceBook page. Thank you for being my mentor and source of inspiration. Keep on being bold and transparent. Know that you are not alone in your fears, but through thoughtful prayer and submission to His will, it’s all good.

      Love ya man!

    • Jeremy

      Added note…missed it in my first post – I’m not saying your teaching is all theoretical. I know your experiences have been a help in helping others. But the point is that your experiences do not encompass all that you have taught (as is always the case with every teacher, I would think). That doesn’t make you an unfit teacher (Job proves it doesn’t) but rather that there is something God will get at in all of us that brings us to a place similar to where you are now.

      Just making sure that’s clear!

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      Thank you for sharing from weakness. We are in different generations but I can relate with much of what you are saying.

      I also lost my dad – when I was 19. It would also be an understatement to say that he wasn’t much of a mentor, yet I grieved more for the relationship we could never have (because he was gone) than for the very poor relationship we actually had.

      The fear… the depression… and all that… well, the Psalms are such a good place to go with it. There isn’t much that is missing there. Raw pain. Honesty about weakness. And a God great enough to be present with his people in all of that.

    • Steve Martin

      His own disciples saw Jesus raise the dead.

      And yet they still cowered in the Upper Room after the Cross.

      That is just how we are.

      But Jesus enters in…and says, “Shalom!”

    • JanineR

      Scared? Your post is one of the bravest that I have read in some time. God is using you through this and He is so good. Hope you will be able to see His mighty hand in your weakness and glorify Him through it all. God bless.

      1.2 Corinthians 12:10
      For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

      2.Hebrews 11:34
      quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

    • Bruce

      So appreciate your honesty and Biblical realism Michael.

      What you shared put me in mind of this passage from Scripture – “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). In your weakness now, you may actually be in a place of strength much more than you think or feel.

      Thankful for you and praying for you.

    • Jeff Ayers

      Michael,

      This is one reason I love your blog.

      I weary of the platitudes and attitudes of Christians who ACT like all is well and “no worries mate”…. puke.

      You get laid off for nearly 2 years like I was, and my wife is too sick to work, (i.e. no income for 2 full years) and you tell me “all is well” , “No need to fear” and “The Lord will provide”….please

      Well after a refi mortgage (I owe more now on my home than I did 20 years ago when I bought the home) and 35K in credit card debt…. there is plenty of fear.

      Thoughts of suicide were a daily occurrence as I lived in fear of losing the house, not providing for my family etc.

      Going to dozens of interviews and being rejected week after week not only shatters any ego you may have, but causes you to be in fear of nearly everything, having virtually no confidence AT ALL.

      And then thoughts of fear such as “Do I really want spend the next 30 years of my life in fear over these very basic things?” (losing my job, income, providing for family etc.)

      I can relate and fully empathize with your post. God is slowly changing me from a person living in multiple fears on a daily basis to at least someone, who is managing one fear at a time.

      Jeff

    • Susan

      Hey Michael, thanks for sharing. I’ve heard before that the sorts of things you are expressing here are pretty common for a man to experience upon the death of his father. Your grief is continuing into new territory, scary, but normal.

      I looked up an article for you (by randomly googling). This is pretty good I think. The author ends by suggesting that you express your experiences to another man who has also lost his father. I’m sure you know a few wonderful older men who have gone through this. Anyway, take a look at this article.

      http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/06/08/losing-dad-how-a-man-responds-to-the-death-of-his-father/

      Blessings, dear brother! I will pray for you.
      Susan

    • Hugh

      Hi Michael,

      I appreciate your honesty and transparency. My religious faith pretty much crumbled and dissolved in 2011. I find that much of christianity is tacky and shallow and is just a veneer covering a host of insecurities. Some people gain real strength and can do great things through faith, it has much to be commended. It works better for some than others. I think in the end it is just one of several ways to help us cope with life. There is much that is unknown and mysterious in this existence and I am learning to live with doubt and the cloud of unknowing.

      Being scared is natural and reminds us of our place and shared experience in the evolution of our species. You and I are real people having a real experience in the real world. It is good to have others around us upon whom we can lean in our darker moments. All things have their time and eventually a new day dawns (or not). I struggle with being overly analytical and under educated/equipped to figure things out, hey, what can I do?!

      Yours is one of the few christian sites that I still check out from time to time, so thanks for being here.

    • Doc Mike

      Michael:

      As you know, I’ve followed you online for many years now, writing an email now and then when more personal matters arose or when I was asking about The Theology Progam. One thing I’ve always known about you is that you are afraid. I’ve known it because it is a sadly common experience for those of us who grew up without good-enough fathers – or bad or absent fathers. At times we lack the confidence needed to face life: we’ve lived our entire lives performing a high-wire act without a net to catch us should we suffer a misstep – which routinely happens. We can pretend we’re ok and convince ourselves that we really are but, sooner or later, truth crashes through and meets up with our consciousness. And then we are truly afraid, scared, terrified – you pick the word that suits you best.

      You need help from other men and, possibly, from a caring physician who knows what medication fits whatever mood. Probably a psychiatrist, but only for medication management; the body of Christ, i.e., older men, can help you through this emotional minefield.

      Just trying to help . . .

    • rob branson

      Dan – we are on exactly the same page. The loss of your father has finally hit home the cold reality of death. My Dad will be turning 90 soon and we have not had the best of relationships. He is irreligious, no belief in God as far as I can tell, it was never a word he said without the 4 letter suffix. But, psychologically I am still attached and I too will someday soon imagine a world without him and will greatly miss his presence of just being here so I can be the kid, and he the Dad. I expect to be in a worldly mess without him as I have few other people in my life that are close. I am scared just thinking about it. Will my faith be jarred? Or will my faith keep me going, as there is nothing in this world that help us manage death with our self aware Human Condition.

      I have written here on the subject of Heaven and how it all is going to work when we get there (some if us). You are probably questioning things yourself and the loss of your Dad pushed it front and center, whether you wanted it or not.

      I am scared and almost balling now just thinking of losing my Dad, and it will be here before I know it and can be prepared – this is for someone I have had no close personal attachment yet still kills me at the thought. My Dad has been a friend, but that’s about it.

      I suspect we are on same page, at least I will be someday soon in your shoes. I will Pray for you that your strength will return, and no it will! Please do the same for me.

      PS – The Captcha deal is working great!

    • Deanna

      I so appreciate your honesty! We will all wrestle with fears at some point in our lives if we are not currently. Thank you for sharing how you are leaning into God during your fears!

    • Bruce

      For your encouragement Michael:

      “He [Paul] demonstrates a sustained recognition that feeling weak in oneself is par for the course in the Christian life and therefore something one may properly boast about and be content with (vv. 6, 9–10). (‘Boast’ here means, not parade or be proud of in a self-centered way, but highlight when appropriate as a significant, God-given part of one’s life.)

      In this, Paul models the discipleship, spiritual maturity, and growth in grace that all believers are called to pursue. When the world tells us, as it does, that everyone has a right to a life that is easy, comfortable, and relatively pain-free, a life that enables us to discover, display, and deploy all the strengths that are latent within us, the world twists the truth right out of shape. That was not the quality of life to which Christ’s calling led him, nor was it Paul’s calling, nor is it what we are called to in the twenty-first century. For all Christians, the likelihood is rather that as our discipleship continues, God will make us increasingly weakness-conscious and pain-aware, so that we may learn with Paul that when we are conscious of being weak, then—and only then—may we become truly strong in the Lord. And should we want it any other way? What do you think?” (J. I. Packer, ‘Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength’)

    • Lora Koetsier

      http://libertyforcaptives.com/2014/05/15/my-pastor-can-beat-up-your-pastor-alpha-dogs-and-the-cult-of-christian-personality/

      I havent commented on this blog for quite some time.
      The article above reminded me why so I decided to comment…..

      I have been reading 1 Samuel and considering King Saul’s pursuit of David in light of the Karpman Drama triangle……when King Saul as the persecutor starts playing victim, desperately seeking sympathy because he refuses to accept responsibility for his behavior…..tthroughout history, times and places change yet human nature remains the same.

    • C Michael Patton

      I don’t understand. So why don’t you comment and why did you now?

    • Lora Koetsier

      Orthodoxy is good and considering how many churches and “ministries” reflect pop culture focused on self-help, orthodoxy is necessary.
      However…..when ortho-praxis and ortho-pathos are ignored in order to promote orthodoxy, then egotism and self-aggrandizement abound.
      When church leaders follow example of Rush Limbaugh instead of Jesus Christ, then the central message of the gospel according to Jesus Christ is disguised and eventually trampled underfoot.
      Each one of us needs to consider our own behavior and how we affect other people…..

    • C Michael Patton

      Again, I still don’t know what you are trying to say.

    • Lora

      As small children, many of us turn ourselves inside out to please our parents.
      As a little girl, I understood that my mother’s feelings mattered, mine didn’t- so I stuffed my feelings to please her.
      In some cases, we sacrifice the parts of ourselves that make our parents uncomfortable and that is how we lose our integrity (Hebrew understanding as wholeness) at a very early age.
      Recovering those lost parts of ourselves is necessary so that we can have a healthy soul.
      Lost parts of ourselves affects our view of God and how we represent Him to others…..

      Text required when I took apologetics:
      The Question of God
      by Armand Nicholi
      discusses how our view of our earthly father affects our understanding of God.

    • Roger Pierce

      Consider your place in time. You have access to God and a mature canon. Think back to those who lived long ago, in darker, earlier times. As you know, many suffered senseless, vicious acts of calculated evil – hideous, pure savagery committed, often, against meek and defenseless people – worse than anything nature does to itself.
      Apparently, it was so bad that old spirits can barely stand to acknowledge it, as I have sometimes seemingly coaxed them to do. The most common response is some form of “You have NO idea how bad it was.”
      Over and over – countless times throughout history, facing certain death and impossible odds, armed with some kind of faith (if they were fortunate enough to have it) people put one foot in front of the next and stepped forward into the unknown.
      Think about the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, who were so sick with fear they vomited uncontrollably. What were they fighting for? Many of them had no religious faith at all. Yet, something drove those men to do what had to be done. Some had lives back home so bad that death on that beach would have figured as a fair escape. The point is, in fact, they ALL had considerable faith and perhaps didn’t know it.
      I bring NOTHING to history but a sober realization. I fall at the feet of all of them equally – in reverence and in awe. Normandy is ONE well-known example. There are so many others – known and unknown.
      Maintain your perspective, remember that fiery, thousand yard gaze you had 10 years ago and reserve some part of your otherwise mature faith as foolishness for Christ.
      Wield scripture in truth and force the capitulation of the seen and unseen to its assurances.
      Fear pain. Fear your inability to be moved by tender things But death itself? No, we’re dead already.
      Lift up your eyes on the next clear night. The cloud certainly does. The awe and wonder is universal. How will we traverse the heavens in our mortality? We can’t. Bigger than you, bigger than me.

    • Molly

      Praying for you, Michael. I so appreciate all of the work that you do here.

      About a year ago I went through a period of intense fear (I would literally just sit and shake with terror sometimes) coupled with months of spiritual trial and doubts. Your blog was a source of comfort and encouragement to me during that time. I hope it will be of some encouragement to you, in turn, to tell you that God brought me through those terrible, fear-filled months and used them to draw me closer to Him. Like you said in your post, this kind of trial exposed the earthly things I tend to want to trust in and drove me to Scripture, especially the Psalms, with no choice but to cling to God’s promises and wait for His deliverance.

      …”And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

    • Tina

      Your willingness to be vulnerable is extremely admirable and I am praying for you. As a woman who has considered suicide nearly all her life, your post on those considering suicide spoke to me in a profound way. I am so thankful it is the Lord’s unbelievable love that has kept me from doing so. I also battle a lot of fears. May The Lord be very near to you and hold you close, Michael. That is what I am praying.

    • Victoria

      My name is Victoria Terry, i live in UK. I want to testify of a great spell caster who restored back my marriage. After 2 years of broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids, I felt like ending it all, i almost committed suicide because he left us with nothing, i was emotionally down all this while. Thanks to a spell caster called Dr.Ramah whom i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I came across several of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb,cure cancer,and other sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and also spell to get a good paid job that he is amazing, i also came across one particular testimony, it was about a woman called Sonia, she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 3 days, and at the end of her testimony she dropped his email. After reading all these, I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him.After 4 days my husband came back to me. We resolved our issues, and we are even happier than ever before. Dr.Ramah is a gifted man and i will not stop testifying about him because he is a wonderful man. If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster, Try him anytime, he is the answer to your problems. you can contact him on ([email protected]) for a great help.

    • maggie

      I’ll tell you what is the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced, and I wish there was a stronger word than “scary”.
      Looking for some comfort after wanting to return to following Jesus and finding out that there’s a good chance I was chosen as a vessel of wrath, created for hell from the beginning of time.
      Waking every morning in a sweat, paralysed with abundant terrifying fear, and a literal sense that there was a huge hole in the left side of my chest where my heart should be.
      Knowing that until the judgement day, I can never be sure of my salvation because God might say “I never knew you, depart from me”.

    • Hugh

      Hey Maggie, I hate what religion has done to you and thousands of others with this psychological torture. Reason alone should be enough to show us that this kind of brain washing is false and very damaging. Where is the proof that there is a hell etc? I am glad I don’t believe that crap any more! Nature has given us a brain, we should use it.

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