Outside. As a child I was frightened of the outside. Outside the four walls that provided safety. I was tremendously afraid of the dark. The way it would taunt me. Scare me to even walk a single step outside my house. Alone. The great outside was the place to avoid.
Outside. The world. Stay inside the fold I was told. And I followed with every fiber of my being. I eschewed ideas that would make me question anything I was taught. I avoided listening to anyone who would lead me astray. I planted my feet firmly inside. The world … life, was a place to avoid.
I grew older. Started to sleep without a night light. Walked home from the bus stop, in the dark. Walked between the house and church, without having a panic attack. I actually found that I enjoyed the way the night felt on my skin. How, I could just relax and breathe in the crisp air. I began to realize the outside was not a scary place.
I began to question my fears. I began to wonder why people on the outside showed me grace, mercy, love and kindness. Inside I felt condemned. Judged. Unworthy. I began to see that the inside was slowly killing me.
I became a mom. Now I was the one calming fears. Banishing monsters. No longer could I stay tucked safe inside my house. My children needed me to confirm the world was a wonderful place. Fear had to go.
I found Jesus. My Savior. My love. I heard his voice. He was on the outside. I had a choice. Did I follow the voice of the shepherd or did I stay, firmly planted, in the safety of the fold? Fear has no chance when you are loved by Him.
So, now I’m living on the outside. Yes, it was scary at first. But, like I learned to not fear the dark, I’ve learned to not fear my life. When you’re walking hand-in-hand with Jesus, you don’t have time to worry about what was or what will be.
Tonight I was reflecting on a discussion with the husband about the place we left. It’s hard to not identify with it still. I still believe a lot of the foundational truths. I miss the music and the worship. I even miss the way the Holy Ghost would fall on a minister and he’d preach the house down. I don’t miss living there.
I don’t miss the way that a man could slash your soul, with no accountability. I don’t miss how we’d spend 2 hours talking about the ministry, the church and what we did … and nothing about Jesus. I don’t miss the way we rejoiced we were God’s chosen ones, while the rest of the country mourned the loss of 3,000 people. I don’t miss the way we discredited anyone’s faith if they talked, acted, looked, sang or preached differently than us. I don’t miss the lack of grace, love, kindness, mercy or faith. I certainly don’t miss the way that I felt. Dead. Inside the safety of the fold, I was dying.
Today, I walk. Following the shepherd. He leads me here and He leads me there. I walk through green valleys and dry deserts. I climb the highest mountains and cross the lowest valleys. I go wherever he goes, because he loves me and I love him. Where He goes, I go. Where He lodges, I lodge. Where He is, there I will be. I’m no longer afraid. I know he is with me. And really, He’s all I need.