As I put away the Christmas decorations this month, I picked up a box full of ornaments and shrieked because it looked like someone had drawn on my brand-new dining room floor in green marker. A second later I realized it was not marker but green string from some sort of tassel off a gift tag. But in that moment of panic, I was a young mother again, ready to go on the hunt for which little person had ruined my floor. While my four kids may aggravate me at times, at ages nine to eighteen now, they don’t write on the floors, walls, or themselves (all over her toddler body with sharpie) anymore. And although my alarm ended in a flash, I reverted to a previous version of myself while it lasted.
But sometimes, I go back to a version of myself that I don’t wish to revisit. When one of my children faces potential pain or rejection, I feel not only the fear of a mother wanting to protect her child, but also the hurt of my younger self who struggled with those difficult emotions. Back in those days, I tried to push past the bad stuff as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, though, I can feel the heartache of that girl still.
At times, I regress to my former ways when it comes to spiritual matters as well. If I encounter a situation that tests me, I don’t always turn to God in trust but in doubt. I question God’s purpose out of a place of heightened emotion and wonder if God is really for me, not against me. Later, when I realize that I’ve allowed my fear to get the better of me, I approach God again with regret for my lack of gratitude and faith.
I take comfort that the disciples who knew Jesus personally seemed to fall back into their old ways regularly too. On one occasion, the disciples, many of whom were fishermen, were in a boat with Jesus when they were encountered a scary situation.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:37-40.
The disciples’ fear and uncertainty emerged when they asked Jesus face-to-face, “Don’t you care if we drown?” They’d reverted to their doubtful selves in the midst of trouble. And while Jesus reminded them that they should have greater faith, he still acted to help the disciples. Jesus didn’t refuse to support and comfort them just because they challenged him. On the contrary, he calmed his people even when they fell into their old patterns.
God won’t abandon us when we falter in our faith and slip into patterns of doubt and worry. In times of fear, we can rest assured that God loves us and will comfort and calm us until we become ourselves again. And then, God will help us grow even stronger and deeper in our relationship with him so that our belief is greater the next time.