Confronting Fear of the Future
I was about to graduate from university, and I had no idea what to do next. Fear of the future plagued my imagination. Would God have anything to say?
“You’re not prone to fainting, are you?” the optician asked me as we sat in her tiny office, preparing to initiate me into the fellowship of contact lens wearers.
“That’s encouraging!” I laughed nervously. “Not as far as I know. Why?”
“I’ve had two people faint on me when I was trying to put in their contacts —one girl, who did admit she was a fainter, and then one hulking six-foot-tall macho man. I know first aid though, if you do happen to start feeling woozy!”
Thankfully, her getting the lenses into my eyes was no great ordeal. Getting them in and out by myself, however, was another matter. How could something so small cause such sinking feelings of dread, such trembling of the hands, such sweating of the brow, such pounding of the heart?
Forty-five slightly traumatic minutes later and I was victorious. I had conquered my fear and was a successful contact-lens wearer.
My introduction to contact lenses wasn’t my only confrontation with fear this summer.
I was afraid of not being able to make enough money. Because of the World Cup, we’ve had fewer Brazilian students coming to summer school, and consequently I’ve had two months of no work. This wasn’t exactly the best news for a financially challenged university student!
I was afraid of making a choice that would leave me vulnerable -- of being honest and open as I knew I needed to be. Making that choice and conquering that fear was one of the most difficult yet gloriously freeing experiences I’ve had.
I was afraid, when I went back to work at the end of July, of being officially inspected the first time I invigilated a proper exam. As the inspector sat eagle-eyed in the back of the classroom, I walked around coolly, hoping I looked less amateur than I felt and mentally running through my checklist of invigilator duties. “Oh, dear God, what if I’ve forgotten something? What if I make the school lose its exam centre status?!” Of course, it would happen that while the inspector was still in the room, someone nearby started playing Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” loudly enough for the world to hear.
The biggest fear that I face, though, is still unresolved. I’m entering my final year of university. I’m turning twenty-four. I should have my life together. People keep asking me, “So what are you going to do after you graduate? Are you staying in America? Are you coming home?”
I don’t know. I don’t know. I hate saying that. I don’t know. What am I going to do? I feel the pressure of having to make up my mind, especially as an international student who has to worry about visa issues. But I don’t know.
One night I literally jolted awake in a sudden panic at the thought of how quickly time was passing and yet how blank my future looked. How bleak my future looked, even, to my current darkened state of mind. And then I felt God speaking to me so strongly that I felt compelled to write it down in my journal.
“I have not called you to freak out about the future, to worry about life after graduation or your relationships or your money. Your freaking out will not alter My plan, but it will rob you of today’s joy. I have called you to walk with me today, to give yourself to today, to trust Me today. I am not against you. I am able to do more than you can ask or imagine. Stop doubting and believe. I am in control, and I will show you what you should do at the right time. Turn your whole being to trusting and loving Me.”
This summer hasn’t gone the way I expected, but every sadness and every fear has been counteracted by the reminder of a God who delights in giving abundantly. “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things!” I hear Him crowing over me (Psalm 81:10). I’ve seen some of those good things this summer, in amazing people, good memories, necessary growth, and personal triumphs. What other good things are waiting to assuage my fears for the future? I am excited to find out!
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” Psalm 36:7, 8
First written in 2014