Sadness. Shock. Frustration. Anger. And the most powerful emotion that I’ve had to grapple with hit: FEAR. The shooting of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, took me once again to a place I hate to visit. I’d been here before: after the murder of Trayvon Martin, the killing of Renisha McBride, the choking to death of Eric Garner, and, unfortunately, the list goes on and on. As a mother of two young black boys, the wife of a black man, the sister of a black man, and a friend to many black men, crimes like this paralyze me. Once I get past the horror of what’s been done, I’m left to handle the emotional overflow. How do I move forward and not want to take my family and live in hiding to keep them safe? If you care about any person of color, haven’t you felt this way before? Yes, even as a Christian?
The circumstances matter somewhat, but honestly, they mean little when compared to the final outcome of a forever scarred life – if the victim remains alive. In each case, I hungrily consume the facts as they come forth. I find out more about the perpetrator and the circumstances, hoping to find something–anything–that will help me say, “okay that couldn’t happen to me.” To us. To my boys. When I see that, often, these were just everyday people going about life, when the unthinkable happened, I can’t think of anything else. And I am scared. For my life. And theirs.
That’s when I’m faced with a decision. As I prayed today, God provided for me what He gives time and time again: His peace. I read in my devotional that no evil would come upon us, and God would give His Angels charge over us (Psalm 91:11). And these words reminded me that I must take steps to say “Enough” to living in fear.
Here’s how to accomplish that in your own life.
1) Acknowledge It.
To ignore it or close my eyes to its existence would be absurd. However, I know God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). I ask God to help me deal with what seems insurmountable. Thankfully, He speaks to me. He calms me. He helps me understand the difference between being prepared and watchful, versus living in fear. God ushers peace to my soul.
2) Read God’s Word.
There are critical promises from God in His Word about the way He will take care of us. Will this keep bad things from happening? We already know the answer to that question. But it helps me rest in His promises and recognize that I have the gift and power of calling on His Name, pleading the Blood of Jesus, and seeking His refuge of safety and protection.
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Again, this happens every time. I have to stop reading all the stories. Stop commenting. Stop watching. Stop ingesting. I’ve learned this doesn’t mean I don’t care. It does, however, mean that instead of meditating on the negative, I’m deciding to think in positive terms of being a catalyst for change. What gesture can I make, no matter how small, to help situations like this to keep from happening? Write to bring awareness to the issue? Organize a constructive march for change? Work with youth in my community? Or maybe educate young men on how to handle themselves to make it home–alive.
Fear is a part of life. It’s not of God. But it is reality for all of us, including believers. The key is learning how to strike the imperfect balance between reality–and faith.