Anyone who reads my blog knows I’ve struggled my entire life with anxiety. Although God has liberated me from panic attacks and the bondage of constant anxiety over the years, fear is still my default. I worry constantly about my kids, a wheel spontaneously coming off my car while I’m driving and don’t get me started on germs. So how is it possible that in less than a week I will be flying to China and I’m (almost) completely unafraid?
I haven’t shared much about the trip because originally just my son was going. A friend of ours who is an international student at our kids’ high school invited Casey to China last summer. Then Faithe and I were invited to go along but the itinerary and guest count was in flux most of the year, so we weren’t sure until about a month ago we were going.
Next week after a fourteen-hour flight, our friend, his father and an interpreter will be taking us to multiple cities in China for twelve days. We will travel by car, plane and high-speed rail. We will see the Great Wall, go to a tiger park and visit Disney World in Shanghai. It will be the trip of a lifetime, but here’s the caveat:
I’m afraid of turbulence, heights and unidentifiable meats. I don’t speak Chinese, I hate flying and my husband won’t be with us. We cannot drink the water in China, last month I read about a pilot there who was almost sucked completely out of his cockpit window mid-flight and when my brother was there on business he saw a man get run over on the freeway. How is it I am traveling to a country with 1.3 billion people half way around the world and I’m not only fearless but excited?
Twenty years with Jesus.
When I speak at conferences about my victories over panic attacks and anxiety, women want to know how. How does God free us from fear? How should they pray, what verse should they memorize and which Bible study should they take? How can they be free, too? I want and wanted to be free from fear quickly, easily and permanently when I started reading the Bible and learning about God too, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
The process of being freed from the things we hate, wish we could change and hold us back is a long and arduous one. But the alternative is staying in the same places of bondage for a lifetime. The alternative is missing opportunities, experiences and relationships because we are trapped by fear, anger, jealousy and bitterness. The alternative is paralysis. Although I’m still afraid of many things, by God’s grace, I’m not a prisoner to them anymore.
The slow work of God is in fact slow, but slow is still progress. And slow is still better than stopped.