Suffocated by fear

9 Jan

I am seeing more and more that this is the reality of my life: I am being suffocated by fear. Specifically by the fear of man.

Let me back up: ever since we returned from Christmas vacation, I have felt depressed and gloomy. And not just like “This day sucks”–more like “My whole life sucks.” I have been questioning my job, my activities, my abundance of down time and feeling like  all I do is vain and worthless. My days are filled with nothing but idle fancies and mediocre attempts at life. But I’ll stop there lest I bore you with my “woe is me” babblings.

Even though I feel like being dead to the world, I have continued to exercise and get in the Word. And I went to my Women’s Group last night. (But I don’t care right now about my house being clean and tidy.)

The most helpful thing I’ve done is think. And ponder. Just in the past 24 hours, I’ve realized big things with even bigger implications.

I avoid human interaction.

It’s not that I don’t like people. I’m scared that they won’t like me.

I never thought I was a people pleaser. I thought I was confident enough of myself that I would do or say what I wanted.  Until today. I saw it with complete clarity and it explains a lot…

I’m not a people pleaser in the stereotypical way. When I hear “people pleaser,” I think of  a woman who bounces around, talking to everyone, never saying anything mean, always happy and cheerful, never a drag or downer on anyone, etc. I am definitely not that woman (Travis will vouch for that).

Instead, I want so much to please people–and am so scared that I won’t–that I don’t interact with them at all. I avoid them, pretend I don’t see them, don’t call them back. I’ve gotten a lot better at this since becoming a Christian (mostly because I’m mature enough to push myself to do it anyway) but I always get a sinking, panicked feeling when I know I’m going to have to talk to someone I don’t know that well. “What if it’s awkward? What if I don’t know what to say? What if I say something stupid? What if there’s a dead silence? What if? What if?”

Case in point: I go to an aerobics class 2 times a week. It’s at 5:30 AM in the morning so only the same ole die-hards go at that time. Pretty much the same women are in every class. Do I know a single one of their names  (besides the instructor’s because hers was posted on the schedule)? Nope. Do they know mine? Nope. When someone tries to talk to me, do I encourage the conversation or do I answer their question and then move off in a hurry? You guessed it…the latter.

Case in point: When a vendor who I’ve been working for almost a whole year now calls me on the phone, my stomach still sinks in the “I have to talk to him on the phone?” kind of way.

Case in point: The graphic designer I’m working with has had to make umpteen changes to our youth leader conference notebook. When my boss came over today with yet another change, I didn’t want to tell him that I didn’t want to ask our graphic designer to make another change but I didn’t want to disappoint my boss either. A tough decision of who to please…the graphic designer won. (But only until Monday when I need to ask Phil about paying him more money for all of those changes…dangit!!)

I don’t make time for other people. And I don’t go out of my way to talk to people. Besides my boss and people I work with directly (and them only when it’s necessary), I rarely talk to anyone at work.  I mingle at church but only when I’m “in the mood.” I don’t talk to any strangers. Most of the time I don’t even say hi. Even with the women who are in my care group, the women I know the best out here in CO, I feel unlike myself and very conscious of what I say and who I am around them. 

I didn’t used to be like this!! In college, I met and interacted with new people all the time. I discipled girls. I had close friends. I talked to lots of people at work. What is happening to me?!?!? I feel so far from that girl I used to be that I have no idea where to start in getting back there…

These realizations coupled with the challenges at my job and the exhaustion I feel for no apparent reason make me want to both cry and throw my hands up in defeat. I feel defeated. I feel so overcome with failure and incompetency that I feel suffocated. I feel like I’m stuck underwater, breathing through a straw.

I do believe that God is sovereign over everything and that He loves me…so He is in control of the way I feel right now and ultimately, He is using this  life reckoning for my good. I know that good will come out of all of this…which is why I haven’t allowed myself to give up hope or to stop thinking about what’s wrong and praying for God to mend my life. It may be broken but it’s redeemable.

But I do look at other people, even other Christians, and envy their contentment in life. They are finding joy in their everyday lives. They feel like what they do everyday, no matter how mundane or anticlimatic, is right and they understand their life. At least that’s what it looks like. I’m pretty sure they understand their lives better than me. Because I don’t understand mine at all.

I know God created us to be humans and to do humans things, like shower and drive cars and read books and laugh and joke and sleep. But there is a voice inside me that won’t stop saying “There’s got to be more to life…”

I’ve been reading through Romans since the new year began and yesterday and today I’ve been focused on 1:21-32. The verses illustrate what humans are like without God’s grace and loving restraint in their lives. Verses 28-32 show all the sins that result from having a depraved mind–there are a lot of them.

I’ve been very aware of my mind lately and how it has been questioning and arguing with God, the gospel, and what I thought I knew of reality. I know that I have a depraved mind. I see in myself a complete inability to believe anything about the gospel without God enabling me to believe it. So I am very comforted by another verse, Colossians 3:16, which I will end on.

“…Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.”

Amen.

2 Responses to “Suffocated by fear”

  1. Chelsie January 9, 2009 at 8:09 pm #

    I’m so sorry you are going through this/feeling this way, but no you aren’t alone. I often question God as well, asking Him what is my purpose in this world, because quite honestly, I don’t see it/realize it sometimes. I will be praying for you!

  2. aprilkatiejane January 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Hi Kathy,

    Wow- how I can relate to your post. I have sort of a split-tendency– sometimes I’m the bubbly people pleaser and sometimes I’m the people avoider… either way, its because of my fear of man.

    http://aprilkatiejane.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/i-just-needed-a-little-jazz/

    I still don’t know how to not be afraid of people, but I think its a life-long learning process. I really love reading your blog and seeing your transparency. I felt that I could really relate to your section about having a depraved mind. I have found myself doing the same with God- arguing, pleading, not wanting to be patient, wanting to test Him, asking big questions and being upset that I don’t have the answers… my depraved mind often clouds my joy and contentment in Christ.

    Amen to Col. 3:16!

    Thanks for sharing girl.

    Katie

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