Welcome to the conclusion of the Facing Fear of People series! For earlier posts, start here:
“I wanna do it!” The two-year-old jerked away as her mom tried to steer the miniature shopping cart. The cart bumped into the freezer display.
Kelsie sighed before answering. “You can do it, Sara, but I am here to help you sometimes.” She held the cart still.
“No!” Sara yelled.
“I’m waiting for you to listen. When you’re ready to listen, you can do it by yourself.”
Sara stood quietly, but still glaring a little. Close enough. Kelsie let go of the cart. “Okay. Let’s go find the apple juice.”
She rolled her eyes as she followed her toddler down the next aisle. April’s offer of keeping both children for a couple of hours had been tempting, but Kelsie eventually decided to take Sara with her in the hopes that this one-on-one time would be helpful long-term.
Sara got to the end of the aisle and Kelsie reached out to stop the cart. “Watch out, honey—there are other carts here.” They waited a minute, then a woman smiled at them and waited for them to go first. “Thanks,” Kelsie smiled. She realized as they walked on that she was still holding onto the little cart—and Sara hadn’t yelled at her once. Small victories. I’ll take it, she thought.
“Mommy, look! We had those at Gigi’s house!” Sara pointed to the blueberry waffles in the frozen section.
“Those were yummy,” Kelsie agreed. “Look, they have strawberry waffles, too. Do you want to take some blueberry waffles home, or try the strawberry ones?” Sara looked hard at the waffle display as she tried to decide.
“Why, hello there—it’s nice to see you!”
Kelsie turned to see Rebecca Peters walking up. For a minute she froze. She thought about the chocolate-chocolate pie from the bakery now sitting conspicuously in the cart, and about the mismatched outfit Sara had insisted on wearing. She remembered Noah’s loud screaming in church the day before, and how she had forgotten to bring back the book she was going to return to Rebecca. The book she hadn’t read.
But in the next instant she remembered what she had been able to catch of yesterday’s sermon. We aren’t sitting here today because we earned our seats, Pastor Wilkes had said. We can only walk into the presence of God because Jesus bled and died to make us His. And if God has welcomed us, we will never be unwelcome.
Kelsie turned with a smile to Rebecca Peters. “Hi, Rebecca! It’s good to see you, too.”
Never Afraid Again
We don’t have to be afraid of each other. Not anymore. When Jesus paid our eternal debt and bought our freedom, He forever broke the hold anyone or anything else can ever have on us. Only He can call us His, and only in His love and grace and power and forgiveness will we ever find our worth and meaning for our lives.
Over the last few weeks, we have explored several different areas of fear of people and how it can sneakily hide out in the crevices of our lives. For me, it has been an exercise of looking deeper into my own life and finding new and deeper areas that need change, and I so hope that you have been encouraged and strengthened through thinking through this topic.
As we live in light of our eternal freedom and the security that comes with that, we may find that people don’t think as lowly of us as we expected. Or we may find that they do. Whichever the case may be, it doesn’t matter anymore: we have the assurance that our standing hasn’t changed because of our latest faux pas and will never be based on our popularity or current social standing.
Eventually, we will probably find others who are still trapped in fear of people. They may not know it. They may not even really show it. In fact, they might act so confident and callous to others that the real insecurities are almost too deep to see. Some of them might try—unintentionally, perhaps—to disguise their fear of not measuring up by pointing out to us how we have missed the mark.
But we don’t have to play like that anymore.
We know we have missed the mark. We know we still fail to measure up every day. But we also know that our lives are based on Jesus’ perfection, not ours, and we can rest in His grace and love and joy even in the most imperfect of days.
When we meet someone who still has that same fear we know so well, we can show them how free they can be. We can extend that same grace we have so undeservedly been given and welcome them, despite the reasons they may give us not to. They are invited and welcomed into this grace, too—into freedom forever.
Four minutes was a long time for Sara to wait as the adults talked. She tried to open the freezer door to reach the waffles herself, but she was too short.
She looked up at Kelsie. “Mommy?” she said quietly. No answer. Sara looked back at her cart, then back up at the door handle. She pulled the crackers out and put them on the floor. When there was enough room, she swung her leg into the cart and began to climb in. She balanced carefully and stood up. She had almost reached the handle—
“Sara!” Kelsie barely had time to catch her daughter as the cart dropped to its side under Sara’s weight. Chicken nugget packages fell on top of each other, Noah’s baby food jars—thankfully unbroken—rolled all over the aisle, and the chocolate-chocolate cake was smashed upside down in its container.
Kelsie hugged her daughter while a stranger righted the cart and another one set the chicken nuggets back in and a teenage boy started collecting the baby food jars. She smiled her thanks and laughed when someone handed her the smeared chocolate-chocolate pie. She set Sara down. “Okay, girlie,” she said. “I’m glad you’re okay. Next time let’s wait for Mommy’s help, okay? We’ll get the waffles in just a minute.” She held Sara’s hand as she turned back to Rebecca. “Sorry about that. Where were we?”
Rebecca paused. “That was neat, Kelsie,” she said quietly.
Kelsie looked around. “What was neat? How far the baby food jars could roll?” She smiled.
“No, the way you responded.” Rebecca sighed. “When my kids were Sara’s age, I would have been really mad at them for that—especially the pie,” she smiled.
Kelsie looked at Sara. “Oh, I get mad sometimes, too,” she said. “And pie is kind of a big deal.”
“But you were so patient there, so—” Rebecca tried to find the right word. “So full of grace.” She looked away. “I don’t show my kids grace very well.”
Kelsie nodded. “It can be hard,” she agreed. “But then, I’ve been given so much grace, I guess I have a lot to share.”