At the end of August, we dropped our oldest daughter off at NYU to begin her college career at her dream school. The days leading up to move in day were filled with anticipation and excitement as she sought to find her place at the table within the smorgasbord of the Big Apple. As we decorated her room and chatted about her goals and dreams, slowly the delicacies of hope were tainted by the aroma of fear. Her eyes got big, and her head dropped as she reached for her inspirational message board which was the next item to hang. She sheepishly asked me what she should put on it and I replied, “What do you need most to hear right now?” Anxiety had already clouded her mind and she couldn’t think of anything that would soothe her heart, so I confessed that I had been compiling a list of “mom-isms” to give her in case she ever needed advice but didn’t want to ask. I intended to give it to her after we left, but this seemed like the perfect time, so I had her read thru it and see if anything on it was fitting. She selected 4 words. “Fear is a liar.” Her mood lifted once she began to ingest the truth and we continued creating her sweet space away from home.
In the following days as I’ve tried to adjust to our new normal and process the wafting sadness, I feel from missing her in our home, I have realized some of my sadness had roots in fear and anxiety as well. Of course, there’s the obvious fear for her safety in New York, but the more subtle fears that the Lord has revealed were tender and made me feel fragile. “What if I am no longer wanted/needed/relevant?” I’ve had a front row seat in the journey of this beautiful young woman’s life for 18 years; and now I wonder if I’m even on the guest list. “What if I get forgotten or replaced by friends?” “What if I am relegated to watching the feast of her adulthood thru the cold, fogged up glass of the windowpanes as I shiver outside like a beggar in the bitter cold?” (Dramatic much?)
Transitions are hard and change is difficult. Each day is full of uncertainties and scary things that suppress our appetites to savor the best things in life. However, God calls us to actively partake of the whole dish of life and taste and see that He is good. Later that weekend, I watched the sermon of a preacher in NY, and he “just happened” to be talking about anxiety and how he has learned to deal with it. One thing he had learned was to confront the fears in his mind by changing the “What if” to “Even if”. Doing this takes the focus off of the fear and instead places it on the truths of God. Often when we get paralyzed by fear and choked by anxiety, our circumstances seem bigger than the Savior who promises to be with us in the midst of them. “Do not be afraid” or “Do not fear” is written 365 times in the Bible; not because there aren’t valid things that will cause us to fear, but because God knows that fear is poisonous baked up falsehoods that are served on every corner. We don’t have to constantly ruminate on Satan’s regurgitated lies and stay in bondage. EVEN IF our WHAT IF’s come true, God promises to be present; He will be our portion and our provider, and He ultimately has a plan IN and FOR everything that happens in the life of His child. Fear is a liar and God is good. Whatever situation we find ourselves facing, I pray we can remember the truth is more palatable and fearing the Lord brings health and nourishment.