I sat across from my friend.
We had met at the studio where our daughters danced.
She was delightful.
And had the best laugh.
Her church experience was not at all like mine.
She knew very little about the spiritual world I was steeped in at that time.
I was anxious to share all about it with her.
Of course I was.
That’s what we were made for.
To share our faith.
Funny I use that word.
I was anxious alright.
It was my middle name.
Karen (full of anxiety) Shock.
My friend knew this.
Vulnerability was/is my super power.
And anxiety was part of my story.
My testimony of faith.
“I have anxiety… But God…”
I would share verses with her.
You know, the ones that were helping me with my anxious thoughts.
About how God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear.
Or How I’ve set the Lord always before me and cannot be shaken.
All the verses.
I had them memorized.
She would just shake her head.
And on this particular night?
She sweetly asked, “So why isn’t all of this working for you?”
“Why are you always worried about your health if you trust in God so much?”
I honestly didn’t have an answer.
You see, I was just as confused as she was.
Why was I so afraid of this God I have claimed to love my whole life?
This happened over a decade ago.
Our family has come a long way since then.
So has my faith.
Not that it has continued on that trajectory.
I’ve actually gone through a very dark night of the soul.
Praying to a God I didn’t believe in at times.
Watching my faith deconstruct right in front of my own eyes.
I wasn’t the one doing it.
I was actually fighting against it.
Trying to keep myself together.
Trying to keep the life we had created together.
Maybe if I just kept it all to myself?
That’s the answer.
Shut up, Karen.
You will scare the children.
Wait, you will scare everyone.
Just keep going.
Pretend you enjoy it.
Pray for forgiveness.
Oh, how I tried.
And oh, how I failed.
And oh, how glad I am now that I did.
My works weren’t working.
They were never made to.
My anxiety was being brought on by what I was being taught.
They were telling me there was nothing I could do to earn my salvation.
Giving me a list of the things I needed to do.
One of those things being?
Do not fear.
Be anxious for nothing.
Except… what God will do to you if you don’t say the “right” words.
If you don’t believe the “right” doctrine.
Accept God’s grace the “right” way.
Oh, and make sure you scare the “Hell right out” of your children.
Make sure you are ready when Jesus returns.
Don’t get caught with your pants down…
At least until you are married…
To a Godly man.
Make sure you marry a Godly one.
And don’t let your kids get caught with their pants down either.
That would be bad.
Oh, and don’t care too much about your children.
Wouldn’t want them to become idols.
That would be real bad.
But, don’t be afraid of any of it.
Because the Bible tells you so.
Wait… My mom taught me that the Bible tells me that Jesus loves me.
Oh, don’t be confused, Karen.
Satan is the author of confusion.
I can’t win.
Not in this system.
Not when the leaders of the system insist on tearing us down until we are nothing.
And then keeping us there.
So we will come back next week, begging for forgiveness.
Hoping to find freedom.
Longing to be called a Saint.
To be told we are loved.
To be reminded that when God created us, we were called “good”.
My faith was driven by fear.
All those years?
Fear was the driver.
And fear doesn’t drive out fear.
Perfect love drives out fear.
I’m not gonna lie.
This might just take a lifetime to undo.
Believing love will save the day.
Reminding myself (and others) that God’s love is perfect.
And leaning into that perfect love.
Karen R Shock resides in Fort Wayne, IN with her husband and their youngest son. She had three more children who are married and four beautiful grandchildren. Oh, and a dog name JT Barrett (Go Bucks). She is a retired homeschool mom and is now a high school teacher and cheer coach. Life is hard, but fun. Learning to lean into the mess, find rest in today, and maybe even make some new friends along the way.