My husband and I got married when I was 25, and not long after my husband commented that I seemed to jump from fear to fear. One week it would be fear that my head cold would never go away, and then another week my fear would jump to the mysterious pain in my foot. He noticed that I seemed to have a chronic propensity towards fear. It had always been there, but it took the ever-present husband to help me notice it.
When I was 28, we traveled to Southeast Asia to scout out the country we would be moving to in the near future. While on that trip I dealt with a rapid heartbeat and insomnia that was so severe that I went to an international clinic where the doctor prescribed sleeping pills. When we returned to the states I followed up with a doctor’s appointment where I was diagnosed with anxiety and prescribed antidepressants to help me stabilize.
Miraculously, with the help of the medicine and my counselor, we still managed to move overseas. My anxiety seemed to stabilize and it seemed that it was under control. But my fear did not go away despite the management of my anxiety and sleep.
Fast forward to six years later when I found myself pursuing my dream to help women coming out of the sex industry. I had wanted to be a part of this work for many years, and finally I found an opportunity to engage in this work. My role was to help these women experience deeper healing in their lives. I was told that most importantly these women needed to know God loved them, and to know they had value.
For 3 1/2 years I participated in this work, and while I knew that to help these women know they were loved was something they would need to hear over and over again, experience over and over again…I began to feel jealous of these women! How could I feel jealous?
I was jealous that so many people were investing in these women’s lives with the desire for them to be free, and to know their value and worth. I was jealous that they kept being poured into and told over and over again “you are loved!” I had never experienced trauma the way these women had, and yet my heart was full of fear and questioned whether I, too, was loved. I had grown up hearing that “Jesus loves me this I know…” and yet I still did not feel loved. Fear was the louder voice in my head. “I’m not enough. I don’t have what they need.” And on top of this, my youngest son had eczema that continued to worsen over the course of the time that we were involved with this project. “God, why aren’t you healing my son? Here we are doing all of this for you; where are you?” I felt forgotten, abandoned, and unseen. I did not feel like God’s beloved daughter.
Fast forward four more years, and my church in Florida had invited me to facilitate a retreat for women. The topic I proposed and that the planning team heartily voted for was entitled “Beloved.” How did such a fearful woman find herself leading a retreat on being the Beloved? In 2013 when my spiritual director and I began to meet, she suggested that I read Surrender to Love by David Benner.
In reading this book, some shifts began to take place in my my perspective of who God is and how God sees me. Through the help of my spiritual director, I began to see that God does love me. That there is time for me to sit in the presence of Love and that my life does matter to God! It’s not enough that I grew up hearing that God loved me; it was okay (and even good) that I longed to know it more deeply. My desire to know God loved me was met with an invitation to experience God’s love in deeper and fuller ways.
The journey continues…one where I continue to long to hear the voice of Love ever deeper in my life. I continue to hear the voice of fear, as it is always present in our world. But in those quiet moments, when I still myself and lean in towards the heart of God, I can hear “Lori, you are my beloved! I delight in you!”
Friend, how are you needing to hear the voice of Love in your own life? In what areas do you notice that the voice of fear is pressing in and keeping you from hearing that you are God’s beloved? Sometimes fear disguises itself and we cannot notice it. But when we pay attention to what is driving our busy lives, we can notice if we are being driven by fear…or driven by love. If you can, take a moment now to close your eyes and ask God to help you hear the voice of Love. As we hear the voice of Love, we experience deeper healing and freedom in our lives. Let yourself linger in the presence of Love.
Have you asked these questions: I have unforgiveness and I am holding on to grudges toward teammates or others. How can I release that? How can I find my voice and take initiative in getting what I need relationally? How can I deal with my grief after too many moves and too many goodbyes? You can have these questions answered! Get this month’s workshop where Eve Austin answers these questions and more. Get the workshop here.