Facing an Unwelcome Guest
About the Guest
Karen Loritts should have been fine. She and her pastor husband were empty nesters, she had a successful book, a thriving church community, and four happy well adjusted children. So why was she filled with fear? Hear how Karen's "fear buddies" almost stole her joy, and how she came back from the brink of despair and found victory over fear.
Karen Loritts should have been fine. So why was she filled with fear?
Facing an Unwelcome Guest
Bob: Have you ever felt beaten up by fear? Here’s Karen Loritts.
Karen: I remember just two weeks ago when I was sitting and preparing this message—sitting at my table, looking out the window—that all of a sudden—this fear came over me again, and I was being victimized. I started weeping at the table saying, “Lord, what in the world am I going to say to those 6,000 women when I am just scared to death to admit that I have fear?”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. If you have wrestled with fear—even been afraid to admit to others that you are dealing with fear—you are going to benefit from what Karen Loritts has to share today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I remember where I was when I first heard the message that we’re going to hear today. I was in a room with thousands of women. I was at an event that was hosted by our friend, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and Revive Our Hearts®. It was a true woman® event, and—
Dennis: I just wonder how you slipped in on this deal. This is an all-female event, but she’s got you emceeing the event.
Bob: Well, I was emcee for that event.
Bob: In fact, I’m going to be emcee again in September when they host the true woman12® conference. It’s taking place in Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention Center, September 20 through the 22. Nancy’s going to be there—Mary Kassian, Joni Eareckson Tada, Priscilla Shirer, Janet Parshall, and me, and Keith Getty. The Gettys are going to be there leading worship. Keith and I will be the two men who will be in attendance at the true woman event.
We do have information on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. There is a link there to the true woman site. If you’d like to find out more about the event—when it’s happening and how you can get registered—go to FamilyLifeToday.com for that information.
The message we are going to hear today, as I mentioned, came from an earlier true woman event. Karen Loritts shared with the women who were there. Karen is the wife of Dr. Crawford Loritts, who is the pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia, and is also a board member for FamilyLife’s Board of Directors.
Dennis: That’s right. Karen, Barbara and I, and Crawford go way back—great friends. They speak at our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences. They’re just great people. I think you are going to enjoy what Karen has to say about how women deal with fear.
Bob: Yes, this is not exclusively a female issue. All of us deal with fear, at some level; but I do think, for a lot of women, this can be a besetting sin. That’s how Karen addresses it in this message.
Again, this was originally presented at the true woman 2008 event. If you’re interested in more information about the true woman 2012 events, go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. Here is Karen Loritts.
Karen: [Recorded message] Well, we have four children. I knew that I was going to get to this day, where our last one was going to enter high school. I was going to be smart. I really pride myself on having my little act together—you know, dot my “I’s” and cross my “T’s.” So, she was going to go into high school.
I have all these friends that have gone through menopause and the empty nest. It was something—sort of like a disease that was going to creep up on me. I was now in my 50s. I was working through the menopause thing; and I was worried about, “Would I survive the empty nest?”—which was four years off.
I decided I was going to be smart. I was going to prepare myself. I knew that the way we did it when we were first married—before kids was—we were just lovey-dovey—just talking across the table about each other and did all those romantic things. Then, children happened. You sort of have the conversation change a little bit. I knew when our last one would leave the nest—then, I would have to find something else to talk about, and be lovey-dovey, and sit across the table, and talk to Crawford. I started to really nurture our relationship because he’s my best friend! I love that man!
I knew that when Holly would leave for school, that it was just going to be the two of us. I was working on it. So, Holly graduates from high school. Those of you that have prepared your child to leave the nest—maybe to go off to college, or into the work force, or into the military—you know, there are some things you have to get done. My job—that summer after graduation—was to work on her dorm. August the 14th came. We packed all my baby girl’s stuff into Crawford’s SUV—I mean, it was incredible stuff! We drove her down to Xavier University in New Orleans, where she was going to be a pre-med student. Everything was fine. We stayed there for a couple of days. Then, it was time for Crawford to put me back in the car, and for me to leave, and to leave my baby girl in New Orleans.
September was fine. I was just cleaning up stuff and rearranging her room, now that she was gone. Ladies, on October the 19—I’ll never forget that day—I had prepared, all along the way, to be ready when my baby girl left—the last of our four children. On October the 19, I was sitting in our bedroom, at my chair next to my table, having my quiet time. I opened up my Bible. I started reading, and I started sobbing. It was as though someone had turned on a faucet. The next thing I knew, I had tear drops on the Bible. I couldn’t figure out what was happening; and I just remember saying, “Lord, something is happening inside of me.”
I felt this wave of fear well up in my belly. All of a sudden, this floodgate of tears came, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Was it my time of the month? (Laughter) Crawford was gone, but that was usual since we had been married—so, it wasn’t that. It seems as though, in that house, that the walls of that house were talking to me. I was alone, and I was lonely.
I had this thought that, “I’m no longer a mother anymore.” My biggest problem, in all of my life, I’m a worrier. I worry about worrying. That’s one of my handicaps. (Laughter) Anybody here like that? Yes—there’s two of us! I worry about worry, but the other thing that I had was fear. I was so—it was as though this garment of fear was cloaked around me.
Let me tell you some things about fear. Fear has a way of bringing its buddies. So, as I’m going through this thing that I’m going through—and it lasted for several days—I was really—I had what I call an emotional meltdown. For me to say that—I’ve been in ministry now, back then for thirty-something years—but for me to admit that I was having an emotional meltdown—it was an incredible indictment on me.
I was having an emotional meltdown, but I was cute enough and smart enough to know that I still had to pray. I still kept my speaking schedule. Crawford and I were finishing a book together on parenting. I did all the right things; but I could not shake that fear that was gripping me. I identified at least ten of my fear buddies. Let me just share ten of them. I wrote them down.
When fear would overtake me, fear would always bring its buddy called—it distorts reality. Fear told me that, “You’re no longer a mother. Who are you?” That is ridiculous! But I felt as though my whole identity had just walked away on August 14, down at somebody’s school, and no longer was I a mother—not to say that I had three adult married children.
Another thing that one of the fear buddies does is it victimizes the person. Fear absolutely beats you up. I remember, just two weeks ago, when I was sitting preparing this message for today—sitting at my table—that all of a sudden, this fear came over me again. I was being victimized. I started weeping at the table saying, “Lord, what in the world am I going to say to those 6,000 women, when I’m just scared to death to admit that I have fear?” Fear victimizes a person.
Another thing about fear—fear puts stress on the body—physically, emotionally, spiritually, blood pressure problems, stress. Another thing about fear—it alienates the truth, even the truth that we know. God was still with me. I was still a mother, but fear told me that that was all a lie—that no longer was that true. Another thing about fear—fear immobilizes. It freezes; it cripples you.
Another thing about fear—fear replaces faith. I forgot—or didn’t think about—that perfect love casts out fear. Fear, many times, will replace the faith that we say that we have. Fear disappoints. Fear takes more than it gives. It gives you nothing.
How about this one? Fear is afraid of success. When you are fearful, you are afraid of success. I knew about failure and all those things that drew me to failure, but I was afraid of moving forward. Two more things—fear fills the heart with despair. You become hopeless and helpless. Then, the last thing I identified—you probably could come up with another list—fear destroys. Fear takes you and just wants you to walk away into a bottomless pit of hopelessness. It steals away your joy, your victory, your blessing.
Those were my fear buddies, but God—knowing God, He wouldn’t let me stay there. Now, see, when I was going through my emotional meltdown—there were times, ladies, that I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to tell Crawford because I have the type of husband—he loves me, he’s my servant leader, he wants to protect me—he would want to fix it. (Laughter) You know, when you’re having a pity party, you want to be the only and the guest of honor. (Laughter) You want to wear your own crown, and you want to just have everything go your way. So, I didn’t really tell him what was happening: “What’s wrong?” “Nothing’s wrong, Honey.”
I had my own pity party, but God wouldn’t let me stay there. I knew I was in big trouble, that I needed to get out of that bed. I needed to believe God and trust God with every single thing—every fiber of my being—because I didn’t want to move. So, I got out of my bed. I went to the Bible; and of course, the way God is with His Word, He showed me several Scriptures. Let me share with you a couple Scriptures.
A couple things about fear that I knew—I read about, but I had forgotten. Fear robs your memory. Several things—jot it down—Psalm 27, verses1-3. Psalm 27 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Question: “Whom shall I fear?” Verse 3, “Though a host encamp against me,”—my fear buddies—“my heart will not fear. Though war arises against me, [in spite of this] I shall be confident.” Philippians 4 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but by everything by prayer bring your fears to God.” Isaiah, Chapter 41, verse 10. I love this! God reminded me—He said, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Lastly, when the children of Israel were being led out of the wilderness—when they got to the Red Sea, they were hemmed in by mountains on one side and the sea and the Egyptian army pursuing them from behind. Moses said to them in Exodus—he said in Exodus 14, “The Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is be still and stand still.”
That’s what I did. I said, “God, I’m going to shut my mouth. There is nothing that I can say. Lord, I want to make a resolve”—because I had a great relationship. I was a great wife; but, really, I was not a great woman because I was letting fear grip my heart. It was doing so much damage in my own life. I said, “God, enough is enough. No more will I allow fear to grip me and rob me of my joy and my blessing. God, I want to resolve three things. God, I promise You that I won’t embarrass You.”
The second thing I said was, “God, I won’t embarrass my husband. I made a vow on
May 22, 1971, that I would love, honor, obey in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. I made a vow to love that man. Lord, I’m going to do that, no matter hormones, PMS, empty nest. I’m going to love that man the way you want me to love him. Lord, help me to do that.”
Next, I said, “Lord, I won’t embarrass myself.” I was born to an unwed teenage girl in the city of Philadelphia, called the concrete jungle. My mother had a brief affair with an older man, got pregnant with me, and didn’t want to marry him. We had this journey throughout the years of being in and out of my grandparents’ home, my auntie’s home, because Mother was a single parent.
Well, at the age of 10, I was practically raising my two brothers. All three of us have different fathers. We were in and out of family homes, and I was a lost puppy. I tried and attempted suicide. That didn’t work. I was too afraid to swallow the pills that I had collected. I decided, “I am going to run away.” When it came time for me to run away, I was afraid of the dark; so, I didn’t run away. God says, “You know what? I’m going to save this girl before she really hurts herself.”
In March of 1965, I heard a message, John 3:16. It was delivered by a man called Thurlow Spurr and his group called The Spurrlows. That was an old group. I remember coming into the youth meeting. There were 4,000 young people. You could always find seats on the front row. We were late because of a snow storm. I sat right on the front row. When that man read John 3:16, it was as though he had put my name in those spaces.
When he asked for those who wanted to know how to know a loving God, how to know that a God Who had gave His only Son for me—now, I love my mother—but my mother never hugged me. My mother never told me that she loved me, but this man was telling me that the God of history had come down and died on the cross for one little, skinny, black girl in the city of Philadelphia. I could know for sure that love was there and offered to me. I accepted Christ on that snowy day of March of 1965. I became a new person, and that’s the power of God. So, “God, I’m not going to embarrass myself because I know too much about You. Instead of me listening to myself, I need to start talking to myself.”
I started going into the bathroom, looking in that mirror, and saying, “God, the only thing that I know is that You love me. I’m afraid right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know that if You can raise a dead Jesus, You parted the Red Sea, then You can take any problems that I have—even this incredible sense of fear, and emptiness, and loneliness—and make me walk up. I’m not going to embarrass You.” The top thing is that I said, “God, I’m not going to embarrass You.” Of all the things, “I am not going to embarrass God.”
I made the decision, after going through all those days and weeks of getting myself out of this emotional meltdown that I was having—that the spiritual health and strength of my marriage will tell the truth about the depth and the spiritual health of my relationship with God. It’s a vertical relationship with God that tells the truth about how I treated my husband, how I treated myself, how I treated others.
Can you believe me that there is hope? If God can save a little, black girl from the streets of Philadelphia, from public housing—a woman that was involved in ministry, who had an emotional meltdown—and He still loves me—what is it that He can’t do?
Bob: [Studio] We have to step in here. That’s Karen Loritts talking about the issue of fear. I remember sitting nearby your wife Barbara, who was at the conference when Karen was delivering this message back in 2008. I remember thinking, “I know what Barbara has written on the inside of her wedding band.”
Bob: You had 1 John 4:18 engraved on the inside of her wedding band; right?
Dennis: That’s right. It says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Bob: Now, why did you have that verse engraved on your wife’s wedding band?
Dennis: Because both Barbara and I had a bunch of these fear buddies. I’d actually call them fiends, “F-I-E-N-D-S”—fiends.
Bob: Yes, not friends—fiends.
Dennis: Not friends, not buddies, but fiends. I get what Karen is talking about here. All of us need to see fear for what it is and what it says about God. We need to turn from believing these fiends, these buddies, and turn to God’s Word and hear what He says about Himself and about how we are to deal with this fear. We’ve got to believe the truth about God—that He loves us. He doesn’t want the worst to happen to us.
Does He allow things to happen to get our attention? Yes. No doubt about it, but we have to believe the truth about Him. We can’t allow fear to be a thief, like Karen talked about, and steal the truth about Who God is and about the Scriptures—because if you can’t believe that, what are you going to do with fear?
Bob: I mentioned earlier that the true woman 2012 event is going to be happening in Indianapolis in September. If our listeners are interested in more information, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. There is a link there to the true woman site so you can find out dates, and how to register, and who’s going to be speaking—all of the information online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “true woman12”.
Then, I also wanted to mention, Dennis, we’ve put together a curriculum for women called Life Ready Woman® that features Shaunti Feldhahn. It’s been exciting to see how women have started using this video curriculum in churches or in one-on-one Bible studies. In fact, I heard some great stories.
I heard about a church in the Dallas area that was using this material every week. There were hundreds of women coming together for The Life Ready Woman material. The feedback we were getting was that this material, presented by Shaunti Feldhahn, put together by us here at FamilyLife—this was engaging for a lot of women who haven’t really been connected with church. I think this church was using it to reach out to women in the community and invite them in for these Life Ready Woman sessions. They were finding a lot of women who were really engaged with the material.
On our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, there’s more information about The Life Ready Woman material. In fact, you can click the link that says, “Life Ready Woman”. It will take you to an area of our website where there is more information. There are video samples you can look at. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about The Life Ready Woman curriculum.
I heard about another group of women—this was real interesting. They were watching these sessions together online. Somebody was playing it on their computer. They had one of these “Go to meeting” kinds of things happening so that all of the women could watch in different parts of the country—all around the U.S.—could watch the same video. Then, they were interacting with it in a meeting online. They were doing that, once a week, as well.
It’s been interesting to see how women have been connecting with the new Life Ready Woman video curriculum from FamilyLife. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about The Life Ready Woman material with Shaunti Feldhahn. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us for more information at 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Ask about The Life Ready Woman curriculum when you get in touch with us.
Now, we want to take just a minute and say a special word of thanks today to those of you who help make FamilyLife Today possible. For a program like this to be produced, to be syndicated on stations all across the country, and to be available on the World Wide Web 24/7 all around the world, there are some costs associated with doing that. Those costs are covered by listeners—folks who believe in the program, who listen and have found it beneficial, and who have contacted us and made a donation so that the program can continue. We appreciate those of you who have done that in the past.
This week, if you are able to help with a donation of any amount, we’d like to send you a thank-you gift for your donation. It’s a new devotional book for families written by Barbara Rainey. It’s called Growing Together in Forgiveness. Barbara has seven stories about forgiveness that are included in this book—designed to be read aloud to the whole family to cultivate a heart of forgiveness, a spirit of forgiving in your family.
Again, the book is our thank-you gift to you this week if you are able to help defray our expenses as a ministry with a donation. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make an online donation. There’s a button there that says, “I Care”. If you click on that button, it will take you right to the place where you can make an online donation. We’ll send you Barbara’s devotional book automatically, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make a donation over the phone; and when you do, just ask about the Growing Together in Forgiveness book. We’ll be sure to send a copy out to you.
Let me just say, “We really appreciate those of you who go the extra mile and help us with a donation like this. Thanks for your partnership with us in this ministry.”
We want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow when we’re going to hear Part 2 of Karen Loritts message on dealing with fear.
Karen: [Recorded message] Resist the Devil. Resist the temptation to have those pity parties all the time—to believe those fear buddies that, “You’re nothing,”—that, “When your kids leave, your life ends.” When your husband walks out on you, God says, “Resist the Devil.” He says, “Draw near to Me,”—and that quiet time—those quiet moments, those prayer times—draw near to God and ask God to bring someone into your life that can pray with you and for you.
Bob: [Studio] I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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