The fear crept in like a summer fog in the mountains, deceptively light and innocent, but by the time I realized what had happened I was paralyzed in fear and could not see my way out. I lay on my bed that night shaking in fear as I was convinced that my marriage was ending and my husband of almost 20 years was certainly going to walk out on me and abandon me and our four children. He was late again, out “working” and entertaining clients. He was not answering his phone and I was desperate to hear his voice.

This was not unusual, he worked late many nights, what was so different was my internal response. My husband had kissed me good-bye that morning reminding me of his late-night event and telling me we would go out on a date later in the week. So why was this night so different? The fear did not happen overnight even though it felt that way, the thoughts had come and gone often over the last few months as my husband’s schedule got busier and busier. At first it was easy to dismiss the thoughts that flitted their way through my heart. Silly things like:

He almost forgot to kiss you this morning, don’t you know that means he really doesn’t care?”

“What?! No thanks for the dinner you slaved over? He just really doesn’t appreciate all you do for him.”

Those thoughts took root and became beliefs as my heart shattered in a million pieces. I was in a panic trying to figure out how to take care of my four kids without my husband around.

That night I no longer could deny I was in trouble and I had to lean into the one whom I knew had the answer, JESUS. I wish I could say that night I prayed, and all my cares and concerns washed away, but there were many other nights that followed in which I battled my thoughts, and that was exactly ALL they were, thoughts.

None of it was true, my husband loved me, he would even say adored me. He may have been a bit more distracted during this time as he was trying his best to provide for us a growing family in a tough economy, the extra hours were not to escape our family and marriage but to undergird and care for us in the way he knew how.

My uncaptured thoughts had gotten the best of me. My thoughts had turned into emotions that consumed everything. I begged God to remove them, to help me stop them, to be a better Christian by believing what God said about taking my thoughts captive. No amount of begging seemed to work and so one night alone again as my husband worked late I heard the voice of the one who loved me most say to me, “Rather than beg me to take them away why don’t you ask me why you have these thoughts?”

Never had it occurred to me the thoughts were anything but the ridiculous imaginings of a lonely housewife. That night I did just that, I asked God to show me the root of the fear of being abandoned. Where did the seeds of doubt and fear come from?

I had an amazing childhood. I should be the most secure of children who would grow up to be a secure adult, so where had this anxiety and distress come from?

God reminded me of another such night when even in the midst of a healthy and safe family I found myself as a 12-year-old little girl in an unsafe place, with the wrong person at the wrong time. This one-time occurrence that I had brushed under the carpet of lost memories was never truly forgotten. That experience whether I realized it or not had made an impact on my heart and my soul.

God showed me this was where the seed of doubt and fear had been unwittingly planted. It had lain dormant for many years until my current circumstances had watered that seed and thus the fear of abandonment grew into a full-grown weed.

Because of my healthy family, my love of Jesus and being involved with some amazing women, with whom I felt safe, I was able to share my experience. Their wise advice and love along with some counseling began my turn around.

God’s healing, though a process, turned my heart around towards my husband and helped me look at myself in a new light.

All of us have had painful experiences in our life and as a result feel unloved and unworthy. God was right there in the midst of the pain and hurt. Though He did not cause the pain he gave me the choice of what to do about it. He allowed me to say yes to His love and no to hurt, pain and rejection that so easily could have been my identity.

Painful experiences are a part of living in a world that has walked away from its Creator. What we do with them is our responsibility, but we do not do this on our own. We have the promise of our Helper the Holy Spirit who longs to see us walk in freedom.

“And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Savior, the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will be to you a friend just like me—and he will never leave you. The world won’t receive him because they can’t see him or know him. But you will know him intimately, because he will make his home in you and will live inside you” (John 14:16-17 TPT)

Don’t do this life alone, our friend the Holy Spirit wants us to walk in freedom and out of the pain of our experiences into the love that Jesus has for us. Knowing him intimately and being known by him intimately is how I found freedom.