The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1.
This is a perfect pep rally scripture. I imagine a gymnasium full of high schoolers, dressed head-to-toe in their school’s colors, cheering and clapping as their mascot flips across the room. Cheerleaders confidently prophesy victory. And, by the time the last girl has taken her place atop the pyramid of brightly smiling seniors, I’m also a believer. Their rival team doesn’t stand a chance! Who should they fear?
Nobody! No team! No person!
But, what if we moved this scripture off school grounds and into my kitchen? And, let’s replace every “whom” with “what.” What shall I fear or dread? Of what should I be afraid? If I had a team mascot, it would obviously be a cute little avocado. But, I doubt she’d be flipping around the room victoriously with those questions posed. Truth be told, I’ve done way more dreading in my kitchen than cooking.
Sometimes I dread making the kids’ breakfast when I am intermittent fasting. What if I go back to my old cooking habit of “one for them, one for me?” Sometimes I dread making a keto coffee. What if I am too heavy-handed with the heavy cream? What if adding a sweeter MCT powder triggers my sweet tooth? Sometimes I even dread dessert day. What if this sets me back a day or two? Standing in my very unthreatening kitchen, I have spent precious time and energy dreading grocery shopping, holiday planning and even birthday celebrations.
Dread seems fairly harmless. After all, who hasn’t dreaded going to work when there’s an unpleasant task scheduled or you know you’re working with someone you don’t particularly like? You say to yourself, “this day is going to stink,” put on your shoes, and head out the door anyway.
That’s adulting, right?
Dread is nothing more than expecting something bad or unpleasant to happen. It’s planning to experience a problem, setback, disappointment, or loss of joy.
The danger of dread is that it’s the opposite of hope. The kind of hope we find in scripture is more than just a fingers-crossed, “no whammies” lottery wish. It’s a confidant expectation of good. It trusts God for the best. When faced with a challenge, it proclaims things like, “this will work out for my good,” “greater is He that is in me,” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Hope gets the pep rally started right there in my kitchen.
If left unchecked, dread can turn into full-blown fear. And, that’s definitely not something I want to give sanctuary to in my life. I don’t want to be afraid I’ll sneak eat if I make my kids’ breakfast – I love being their mom and lovingly preparing good things for them.
I don’t want to be afraid of making my coffee – it’s something delicious I really enjoy. And, I definitely don’t want to be afraid of dessert! I’ve done my best to keep dessert in it’s proper place, so I don’t have to live with guilt or worry. It was dread-turned-fear that lead me to things like the cabbage soup diet, the oatmeal diet, and using meal replacements for all my meals. I was so afraid of myself with food, that I planned to never again enjoy mealtime. What a sad statement. Now that I have some time and distance from that way of thinking, I’m not interested in letting dread back in my kitchen.
The moment I begin to feel a sense of dread, I recognize it is not a helpful emotion. It is not from God and it is not going to add happiness to my life. It’s only there to drain my joy and it needs to be dealt with immediately. Like a cheerleader, I begin encouraging myself about the victorious outcome of this moment – even before the scoreboard reflects my cheer. And, I ask God to guide me and grant me grace to find the joy in challenging moments. Maybe there’s something you’re dreading in relation to food. You may be dreading all the temptations of the holiday season. Perhaps you’re dreading going out with coworkers for lunch. You may even be dreading the meal planning for an upcoming vacation.
Instead of letting dread find lots of comfy nooks and crannies in your life, pick up your pom poms and start cheering for yourself. What do you have to fear or dread? Nothing! And, look for me! I’ll be the avocado on the sidelines shouting, “You’re strong enough! You’re going to be successful! And, you are going to enjoy your life!”
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