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.
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]