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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Jaworski

My Chains Are Gone, and I Am Free

"Do not be afraid of sudden fear, nor the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught." Proverbs 3:25-26

The Heart of a Missionary

Fear. Such a tiny word to describe one of the biggest emotions of the heart. Often portrayed in literature and film as the most powerful tool of evil antagonists, we watch in fascination as our heroes effortlessly conquer fear so good can prevail, and we secretly wish we were like those heroes. Scripture itself is littered with references to fear and yet ironically many of us believers live our lives as if it doesn't exist. Some of us live in bondage to it, choosing instead to wear a mask of false confidence in an attempt to appear "normal" and "put together" among our friends at church. When we can't hide it or deny it, we give it a different name, such as "anxiety" or "stress" to try and earn sympathy instead of disapproving looks and gossip.

For most of my life, I fell into the second group. As a child, I tried relentlessly to appear as a sweet, reserved, and happy child confident in who I was and not easily swayed by my peers. Behind my façade though was a frightened and tormented girl with a need for control and a desire to please everyone. I believed I wasn't good enough for my friends, my family, or my God, and every night I fell asleep to the words of the sinner's prayer on my lips "just in case" I didn't wake up the next morning. Goodbyes were full of fear as I pleaded with God to protect my loved ones and not let them die before I saw them again. I despised sports, bugs, heights, the outdoors, and pretty much any activity that required adventure or had an unknown outcome.

Even as I matured and the theatrics of my fear abated, it still consumed me. Until one day my worst fear came true and shattered my world completely. I will never forget that Thursday morning when I collapsed into my coworkers arms in tears after receiving the phone call that one of my best friends, Mia, was gone. Later that evening, as dozens of us stood in the hospital hallway sobbing and singing praises to the Lord, my mind wandered to the night before when we had visited and laughed just like every other Wednesday night. We ended the evening with a half wave and a "see you soon," but now there would be no more "soon." There would be no real goodbye. All there would be was a squeeze of her hand and a whispered "I love you" as Mia lay unconscious in an emergency room.

Tiny and petite, what Mia lacked in size, she made up for in personality! Mia was bold, fearless, and full of energy, adventure, and joy with beautiful red hair to match her firecracker personality. She was the first in line for an adventure, and that adventure was usually one of her own creation. Best of all, Mia loved Jesus with every fiber of her being and everyone around her knew it! What wasn't known by all was her private struggle with epilepsy. She didn't talk about the medicine that made her sick and groggy, the horrible headaches, and the constant threat of seizures. Seizures so intense they stopped her breathing and affected her memory and thinking for weeks after.

As I got to know her and she invited me in to the confidence of her personal struggles, Mia's faith amazed me! I wanted to be like her when I grew up because despite not knowing when the next seizure would rob her of control of her body and mind, she lived in complete peace and joy. Mia believed the verse " be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,"( 2 Corinthians 5:8) and she lived her life accordingly. For Mia, if she lived, it was a win, but if she died it was also a win, so there was no reason to worry about it. Even in her moments of sadness, struggle, frustration and questioning why she had to bear the burden of epilepsy, Mia never questioned Jesus. She actively lived out Romans 8, confident that whatever happened, her life and struggle with epilepsy would work out for the glory of God.

I had no such confidence. In the weeks following her death, I wrestled with the Lord through the grief and spiraled into a depression and anxiety that temporarily destroyed my physical health and wrecked havoc in my other relationships with family and friends. Why had someone who loved the Lord so deeply been sentenced to a life of sickness? Why was the life of a young woman, who had always lived her life to the fullest, cut so short? Then one day as I sat praying and studying the Word, the Lord whispered to me through it's pages

"Michelle, what are you so afraid of? Your worst fear has just come true, and look, I have been right here the whole time. You have survived, and your efforts to hold on and control the narrative are simply causing more trouble. Let go and trust me. I am sustaining you through this crisis, so what makes you think I won't I do it again if another crisis should come?

In that moment, the chains around my heart broke, and I experienced a freedom from fear I had never before experienced. No longer in bondage, my life has transformed completely, allowing me to do things I never dreamed of! The outdoors and sports bring me joy, I seek out adventures unknown, and soak in the views from heights. And even through the grief and sorrow of pandemics, sickness, and death, I navigate them with peace instead of fear.

Coco's Commentary

Praise God for Mia and how He has used her testimony in Michelle's life! She actively lived out Romans 8, and even 5 years after her death, the Lord continues to use her to bring glory to His name. But freedom from the bondage doesn't mean the enemy never tries to stir up old fears in Michelle's heart hoping she'll take the bait and dwell on them. Like when she awakes to a spider on her pillow and is trying to fall back asleep, or when fundraising and long to-lists make her want to cry dramatically and shut down instead of pushing through, or when an empty trip schedule for the fall incites panic instead of opportunity. So please continue to pray for Michelle! Pray that she would continue to cling to Jesus and allow His confidence to flow through her to keep her feet from being caught! Au Revoir for now!


Prayer Pit Stop

  • Pray for the Kenyan and Tanzanian NLCs in June and July. Pray for final details to fall into place, travel to be smooth, and hearts to be changed!

  • Pray for the funds to be available for all the little things that must be purchased before a month long trip.

  • Pray for Michelle and Sandy as they are away from their families for almost a month. Pray for strength and endurance for all the work they must do, and peace of mind that the Lord will care for those at home while they are gone.

  • Pray for Michelle's future this fall as she shifts her focus from planning camps to fundraising and helping develop curriculum. Pray she will find her confidence in Christ, and not be distracted by the unknowns of the future.

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07. Juni 2023
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Michelle thank you for sharing, I too have to deal with fear. Your words are very encouraging!!! I will keep you in my prayers ❤️❤️❤️🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

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Michelle Jaworski
Michelle Jaworski
08. Juni 2023
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Thank You Deb! I am so glad this encouraged your heart! And thank you for the prayers as well!

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