The faith and fear theory: I beg to differ.

We moved two weeks ago.  Two weeks seems like nothing and forever at the same time.  Matt is at his new job; he likes it.  My boys will be home from school soon.  Natalie is watching Maggie and the Ferocious Beast (it’s a preschool cartoon), and I’ve been hanging out at the computer desk for longer than I should have today.  The last 12 days or so have been a frenzy of unpacking boxes and putting every thing in its new place.  Somehow during this same time, the boys convinced Matt that they needed to buy some guinea pigs since they had to leave their beloved fish, Colors, behind in Minnesota.  Don’t ask me how I feel about the new pets.

My bedroom is the last room to unpack, except for some “storage” boxes in the basement.  I can’t bring myself to do it; I’ve been avoiding those last dozen boxes or so for about 3 days.  At first I thought it was because I was just feeling tired and a little bit lazy, and who likes to organize a closet anyway? (I know some of you might actually like that kind of thing, and all I can say about that is:  How much do you charge?)  However, after a little bit of gloom today and a little bit of reflection, it dawned on me:

I don’t want to finish unpacking because then I live here.  Really live here.

And then I realized that the thought terrifies me a little bit.  That seems ridiculous because, hello, I’m already here, but everything happened so fast.  I’m not sure I ever really got a chance to process it all.  I think I might be afraid.

People, even important prophet-like people, say that faith and fear cannot exist at the same time.  Today that just doesn’t feel right to me.  I have faith that this is where we are supposed to be.  I believe that God’s hand has been in all the details of this move and even worked miracles to make it all happen.  I know it’s not a mistake, and yet . . .

I’m afraid of starting over again.  Afraid I may not make new friends with deep connections like many of those I’ve left behind.  Afraid I might not find the right pediatrician for my children.  Afraid I may never be needed in my new ward that’s the size of my old Stake.  Afraid that unless I make some huge extra efforts, my children may grow up closed-minded without an appreciation for religious and cultural diversity.  Afraid that I might not find a cheap place to buy my canned goods since there’s no Aldi here (I realize that’s a dumb fear, but still.).  Afraid that the new school and new teachers won’t pick up where our great Minnesota elementary school left off.   . . . .

I guess I have faith that God put me where I’m supposed to be, but I don’t know yet what I’m supposed to do.  Perhaps that’s not technically fear, but it feels a little scary to me.

“Let’s rid ourselves of the “what ifs” and the “if onlys” and “cast [our] burden upon the Lord.”…  Let’s just do the best we can every day and allow the Lord to make up the difference for us. That is one of the promises He has made to us.”  ~ Kathleen H. Hughes

“I have come to understand how useless it is to dwell on the whys, what ifs, and if onlys for which there likely will be given no answers in mortality. To receive the Lord’s comfort, we must exercise faith. The questions Why me? Why our family? Why now? are usually unanswerable questions. These questions detract from our spirituality and can destroy our faith. We need to spend our time and energy building our faith by turning to the Lord and asking for strength to overcome the pains and trials of this world and to endure to the end for greater understanding.”  ~ Elder Robert D. Hales

“We do not fear the future for ourselves or for our children. … Our young people in many ways are much stronger and better than we were. They and we should not be afraid of what is ahead. … As a grandfather who has lived a long time, I counsel you to have faith. Things have a way of working out. Stay close to the Church. Keep your children close to the Church. … Find happiness in ordinary things, and keep your sense of humor.”  ~ President Boyd K. Packer

“I promise you in the name of the Lord whose servant I am that God will always protect and care for his people. We will have our difficulties the way every generation and people have had difficulties. But with the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have every hope and promise and reassurance. The Lord has power over his Saints and will always prepare places of peace, defense, and safety for his people. When we have faith in God we can hope for a better world—for us personally, and for all mankind.”  ~ President Howard W. Hunter (I know this is directed at those who fear a “doomsday” future, but it still spoke to me about my more “simple” concerns.)

And lastly, I found this quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland that brought tears to my eyes.  I LOVE Elder Holland.

“Every person in every era has had to walk by faith into what has always been some uncertainty. This is the plan. Just be faithful. God is in charge. He knows your name and He knows your need.

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—that is the first principle of the gospel. We must go forward. God expects you to have enough faith, determination, and trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. He expects you not simply to face the future; He expects you to embrace and shape the future—to love it, rejoice in it, and delight in your opportunities.

God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.”

The boys will be off the bus soon.  I believe I’ll finish unpacking tomorrow.

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24 thoughts on “The faith and fear theory: I beg to differ.

  1. Stephanie, I am one of those creepy people who loves organizing things…. and you can pay me in chocolate 🙂 serious. Zeke and I would love to come see you… I know I’ve only met you twice and I think you and Matt came over for dinner WAAAAY back in 1999? wow! anyway

    by the way, my children love “Maggie and the ferocious beast” that theme song seems to play in the back of my mind WAY too much.

    I totally agree with you that you can have Faith and Fear at the same time….. I’ve felt that way several times… somehow, we must increase our Faith 🙂
    Just remember if the Lord really wanted you to move there (and it sounds like He did from the way everything worked out so well), then I’m sure it will be a great experience 🙂

    An outgoing missionary in our ward said the greatest quote about Faith: “My Faith in Jesus Christ is like the sun. Not only do I see it, but because of it I can see everything else.”

    best wishes, especially with the guinea pigs! 🙂

  2. I’m sorry! My sister in law lives near you and if you want I can ask her about her pediatrician, the stores nearby, etc.
    I agree with you that it is important to teach kids about diversity. When I was in the third grade I tattled on a little boy who said he wasn’t a Mormon. I thought he was lying- it hadn’t occured to me that someone would’t be a Mormon. Isn’t that sad?!? My husband (from South Dakota) and I really don’t want that for our kids.

    Moving is never easy, I hope you’ll start to feel better about things soon.

  3. I was actually thinking about this very thing this morning. Someone recently asked if I could live anywhere in the US, where would it be. I replied that I really like living in SLC and Utah.

    And I realized that moving out of state, to the unknown, terrifies me! I don’t like a lot of change. I know SLC, I’m comfortable here, I know where I’m going, and to be out of that does really scare me.

  4. I feel the same way about Aldi! They have the best chocolate under the sun and it is reasonably priced, too! Add to that their generally excellent quality and low prices, and I would be sighing, too, if we moved to a place that does not have them. I am a grandma now and have relied on Aldi for 20 years. Still, the SLC area has very nice redeeming qualities, I feel. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some time to adjust. If it helps, I give you permission to live out of your boxes for however long you need…and I bet it won’t be long.

  5. i think elder holland’s quote is what defines what they mean by faith and fear not coexisting. fear, paralyzing fear, will stop you in your tracks. you’ll dwell and stew and fret. you’ll fear and fidget and wonder. you’ll question and ponder and quibble. there will be no discernable action, other than stewing.

    i had an experience a few weeks ago that brought this idea completely to mind. i didn’t move across the country, but i had an experience that made me wonder if i was losing something that i at once feared and longed for for my whole life. in that moment, in that experience, i had to decide to have faith. i had to decide to believe my Heavenly Father, who whispered comforting words to my heart and mind and gave me peace when peace shouldn’t have been present.

    in that moment, i think i realized that fear and faith are both choices. when you take one step forward, you exercise faith. that doesn’t mean that you don’t have fear. it just means that you are choosing to walk forward with faith. some days you may go 500 steps in faith. some days it’s one. either way, it’s faith and it’s what Heavenly Father wants to see from us.

    no one knows our burdens more. no one, then, can understand how hard those steps can be for us. i think that’s why He, as Tender Parent, rejoices in those steps even more.

    chocolate, pediatricians, and canned goods will come, as will the unique contribution you can make to your ward. someone, somewhere, needs you to be exactly who you are and exactly what you are in precisely where you are. you know that already.

    you’ll find it. i know you will.

  6. I’m just down the hill if you need me. 🙂 And I really do like organizing closets that aren’t my own, but I’m afraid that I can’t bend or climb at the moment. But I can say that if you travel to Orem’s WinCo, they have good prices. But you have to bag everything yourself. Which is why they’re cheap. I prefer Macey’s since it’s a local store and I love most of their produce, but you’ll find your favorite places. You can do this!

  7. I think I get afraid when I want to get everything right the first time. But if you give yourself permission to find the wrong pediatrician, too expensive canned goods, and just ok friends for a little while, you’ll take the pressure off. You have time to work these things out, and wiggle room to make some wrong turns as you get there. Fear can paralyze you; faith will keep you moving forward, however slow you may need to go.

    On another note: how did a rodent become a replacement for a no-work pet like a fish?

    It will all work out, Stephanie.

  8. I know just how you feel. I’m just now feeling like things are great here. It took a year. Slowly but surely. And take all the time you need unpacking!

    My fears tend to take over my life way more than I’d like. The older I get, the more fears I have been able to shed, and it feels so good and I wonder how much life I missed because I was afraid to live. I loved this post and the quotes you shared. Thank you.

  9. Thanks for this great post. I will be stealing a few of the awesome quotes you found for my gospel principles lesson in a few weeks (Faith in Jesus Christ). Talk about perfect timing. I have been reading and studying but haven’t delved into the General Authorities thoughts yet and this was just simply perfect.

    I hope the unpacking goes alright and everything feels less scary sometime soon.

  10. just don’t get too lacadasical about unpacking those last few boxes. I was unpacking the last few “junk” boxes in Las Vegas when my husband walked in at 4 in the afternoon to announce he’d unexpectedly lost his job. Literally. I was knee deep in moving boxes, so I just started shoving the stuff back into the boxes and taping them back up while I cried….

    I love you, Steph! I love how real you are — I love how you always have just the right quote for just the right moment. I was totally serious on facebook….I wish we were neighbors so I could just come over and bask in your awesomeness. As a bonus, I would organize your closet for you.

  11. Wow — I disappear for awhile and you’ve moved! To another state, I’m guessing?

    When we moved here I harbored the exact same bundle of fears. Most never materialized — at least over time. I hope all goes well for you and your family.

  12. I like this post. I’ve also felt faithful and fearful at the same time, because change is a very hard thing for me. I would come unpack your last boxes – and love every minute – if I were closer. I’m weird like that.

  13. I can understand the fear living with faith. Moving is difficult, leaving friends is difficult, and accepting that you have moved to a new place is really difficult.
    I hope that it will feel like home soon.

  14. I have been where you are. It took me two years to empty the last of the boxes. Moving can be scary even though you know it is what you should do. We have been in Ohio for 3 years now and I have almost wrapped my brain around the fact that this is where I live and am staying. Everyone else has seemed to adjust easily, husband (moved near his family) kids love school and cousins and friends. I struggle with friends and fitting in…still trying in Ohio!

  15. I am so glad I came over here to read this today. I moved recently (well, 8 months ago) and am struggling with that fear that you speak of. Thanks for the quotes, I am printing those out and putting them where I can read them everyday to get out of this funk and just put it all in the Lord’s hands. (I just blogged about it, not as upbeat as yours at all, but read if you want!) Thanks for your perspective….it was needed!

  16. I can’t imagine moving to a new place and not being afraid. I’m sure God gets that.
    I often think of him sending his babies to earth… and how he feels right then. I doubt he feels fear…
    Anyway, I’m sure everyone will love you and you will have a million friends. Is that what you want to hear? 🙂

  17. Beautiful

    we are rooting for you, just as our father in heaven is. He can ease our troubled heart and bring peace to our soul. It’s a wonderful thing that we each have access to this 😉

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