For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~2 Timothy 1:7~
This post is actually a revision of a post I wrote two years ago, but between last week’s Church of the Highlands Women’s reCreate conference (Theme: Without Fear) and the next section in our 31 Day Create small group (Creativity Killers) I decided it was time for a resurrection.
I actually have a friend who is so terrified of spiders, that she will not give me a hug or even stand next to me when I’m wearing a shirt with a glittery spider on it. Maybe, like many of us art teachers, she just has a phobia of glitter! No, I don’t think so, some fears are very real!
Unlike my friend’s phobia of spiders, the point of reviving this post is more about fears that strike in the supernatural. The battles we fight in our heads every day; the ones we need an arsenal of weapons to defeat anytime the enemy strikes.
PARALYZING PIANO PLAYER
Have you ever been SO scared you couldn’t move? While thinking about the topic of fear, I remembered a time I was petrified to the point I was literally frozen.
I was young. I can’t really remember how young, but I was sound asleep one morning before school. All of a sudden I heard the creepiest noise coming from our living room. Like someone was on the lower keys of our piano playing the slowest, creepiest notes ever!
Here’s a little ditty by Peder B. Helland that sort of gives you an idea, but what I heard was MUCH creepier!
Anyway, as my heart began to pound….like out of my chest…I thought, where are my parents? Do they not hear the creepiness that is lurking in the living room? Maybe the creepy thing playing the creepy music had already gotten them! My mind went bezerk! I had imagined my whole family dead and a crazy person playing our piano just waiting for me to come down the hall!
I slowly lowered myself to the floor and crawled, yes, crawled, to the kitchen. To my happy surprise, Mom was there cooking breakfast, without a care in the world. I, on the other hand, could barely mutter the words, “Do-o-o y-o-u hear thhhh-a-t?”
“Yea, I think it’s Samantha”, Mom stated matter-of-factly. Samantha! Oh…my…goodness! Samantha was our CAT! Our cat, for goodness sakes! She had decided to take a walk across the piano at the butt-crack-of-dawn and scare the bejesus out of me! And evidently, she really liked the lower keys because she just kept walking across them again and again!
In fact, she looked a lot like the famous Nora, The Piano Cat!
PSYCHOLOGY OF FEAR
The point to this ridiculous story is to yes, make you laugh, but to also get you to think about how paralyzing fear can be.
What do you fear the most? The unknown? Or sometimes worse, what you do know?
Counselors tell us when we experience things that are unknown, our minds have to quickly run through ALL of our life experiences to see if we’ve ever experienced anything similar. If we have, then we may still be fearful, but we have something to relate to and can usually talk ourselves through it. If we haven’t experienced this sort of fear before, then our minds trigger the “flight or fight” responses and we react, sometimes not in the best of ways.
You can probably relate if you’ve had an experience and the situation is similar to something you’ve lived through before, then you know 1) you’ll probably live through this situation too, and 2) you can set in motion a course of action to get through it this time. It doesn’t mean the situation isn’t scary; it’s just doable this time around.
If on the other hand, you are faced with something TOTALLY new and scary, your mind doesn’t exactly know what to do, so it tells you stupid stuff. (Like crawl on the floor to the kitchen to see if your family has been killed by a piano-playing psycho!)
If you let your mind take over, you’ll probably end up making some goofy decisions, that if you were sure of yourself, you would not make in the first place.
Or, just as scary is the fact that you might not do anything! You become paralyzed and you just stay stuck. Eeek!
This is where having a strong relationship with the Lord and confidence in who you are comes in VERY handy.
MY “CURRENT” FEAR
I shared some of this with our small group last week. I’m probably 75% done writing a book about the year I spent becoming a living kidney donor to a stranger and for whatever reason, I just can’t seem to finish it.
I took a hiatus from small groups last spring to help my hubs get his small group off the ground and to write. Do you think I got much writing done? Well, okay, a little, but I didn’t finish it.
Then I had an entire summer to write it, but it’s still not done.
I’ve contacted someone, actually two people, to help me finish it and to help me get it ready to self-publish, but I really don’t have the money for all of that just yet. So, it’s still not done.
Notice a theme here? Excuses, excuses, excuses!
Everyone keeps saying it will be a good read and yes, they will buy it, but there is some element of fear lurking around in my head that I can’t quite pinpoint.
What if I never finish it and then look stupid because I told everyone I was writing a book?
What if I finish it and I don’t sell a single copy and then feel like a failure?
What if I finish it and it sells like hotcakes and gets me speaking and workshop gigs like what I would love to do?
Fear of failure. Fear of success. Both are real fears.
Just Keep Moving
I have vowed to do a couple of “pro-active” activities that should get me a little closer to my goal, and I’m continuing to pray and seeking His will every day. I know if He can use my struggles during 2014 to glorify Himself, then He can surely use this book for the same purpose. But, I’m still a bit fearful.
When we think He’s asked us to do something we believe is out of our wheelhouse, we have to step out in faith that He knows what He’s doing. Just the fact that I MOVED in the direction of completing this book has made me feel better. He has already put people in my path who can help me succeed, now I just have to keep moving.
When I DO finish the book and I DO get to the other side of all this, it WILL be made clear and His name WILL be glorified. I’ve lived long enough to see this happen and I know He will do it again. During my 11-month journey of donating a kidney, I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling so hard to make a decision and why it took so long to be approved to donate. Little did I know, He had it all worked out for my recipient and me, and it all became crystal clear AFTER I stepped out in faith and got to the other side!
When I was writing this original post back in 2015, that thought came to mind when I realized that others really do need to see that through our struggles, we can stay steadfast, we can pray and praise Him, and then when He does answer our prayers it was all in His perfect timing. If He immediately answered all of our prayers, well, duh, everyone would pray! But, faith and patience have to be grown under trial and that’s the part others don’t quite get until they see us living it out.
If we still have faith while going through the darkest times of our lives or fearing the next big request of God all while continuing to praise Him, then others will see Him in us and realize we have something (peace) they are dying to have!
So, we GET TO GO THROUGH all of this “stuff” in order to SHOW OTHERS HOW TO! We GET TO! It’s a privilege, people! It can be scary as all get out, but it’s God way of growing our faith.
We’re witnessing to others without saying a word. Oh, others are watching! Believe me, they are watching! And when you come out on the other side with a story to tell, they will be led closer and closer to know what you have.
STEPS TO OVERCOME FEAR (Physical & Faith Steps)
I found several worldly or physical steps to overcoming fear and they made great sense. I’ve used many of them to stop fear in my own life because they work. But, I wanted to take it a step further and partner the physical steps with some Biblical backing, or steps of faith, so here goes.
1-Breathe (Physical step)
- Counselors recommend physically breathing in a way that tricks your body into calming down. This is called the 7/11 breathing technique. The numbers really don’t matter you just need to breathe OUT longer than you breathe IN. Breathe in for 7 counts. Breathe out for 11 counts and your body HAS to calm down.
1-Remember a Verse (Faith step)
- While you’re calming yourself down by breathing slower, remember a verse that tells you God loves you and only wants good things for you. Faith and Health Connection has a list of affirmation scriptures to Tweet, so you know they’re short! These would be some great scriptures to have in your arsenal of scriptures to remember when fear takes hold of you.
Here’s a great one:
When I walk through tough times I don’t have fear because God is with me. ~Psalm 23:4~
2-Picture Yourself Calm (Physical step)
- Visualize yourself in the situation you are scared about all calm and collected. Do not over-analyze the situation!
2-See yourself the way God sees you. (Faith step)
- God sees you as His child and He made each and every one of us in His image and for His plan, so you know you have been placed here for a reason. Believe this sister! It’s the truth!
God chose me to be in his kingdom so I have tremendous significance. ~1 Peter 2:9~
3-Kickstart the “thinking part” of your brain (Physical step)
- Scale your level of fear – on a scale of 1-10, where are you right now? Because you have to switch your thinking to a mathematical computation, your body begins to calm down because you’re not thinking about your “feelings” at that moment. You’re trying to “rate” your fear. This is a different part of your brain that you are forcing to take over.
3-Take your thoughts captive (Faith step)
- Take your thoughts of fear and flip them upside down. This and #4 really go together. If you find yourself saying “Well, what if (insert fear here) happens”, then flip that bad thing and say “Well, what if (insert a blessing here) happens”.
We break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold every thought and make it obey Christ. ~2 Corinthians 10:5~
4-Control your Imagination (Physical step)
- Instead of imagining what will happen if your fear comes true, which will make you more and more anxious, try thinking about what it will look like if the fear DOESN’T happen.
4-See your “what ifs” differently (Faith step)
- See #3. J And then do what He wants you to do!
When God calls me to do something, He gives me the strength and resources I need. My response is to obey. ~Judges 6:14~
5-AWARE (Physical step)
A = Accept your circumstances
W = Watch – scale – breathe
A = Act normally
R = Repeat if necessary
E = Expect the best
5-FEAR (Faith steps & this is my acronym)
F = Face the facts/feelings (Psalm 32:3-5) - When I kept quiet about my sin, my bones wasted away from crying all day long. For day and night, Your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was dried up as in the hot summer. I told my sin to You. I did not hide my wrong-doing. I said, “I will tell my sins to the Lord.” And You forgave the guilt of my sin.
E = Expect good things to happen (Ephesians 2:10) -We are His work. He has made us belong to Christ Jesus so we can work for Him. He planned that we should do this. (Romans 8:28) - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
A = Act NOW according to God’s will (James 4:13-15/MSG) - And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
R = Respectfully ask for God’s help (1 Peter 5:6-7) - So put away all pride from yourselves. You are standing under the powerful hand of God. At the right time, He will lift you up. Give all your worries to Him because He cares for you. (John 14:14) Yes, if you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 16:24) Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive. Then your joy will be full.
BUILDING AN ARSENAL BEFORE IT'S NEEDED
Notice ALL of these things (physical or Biblical) require you to have an arsenal of ideas BEFORE trouble hits. Arsenal literally means “an array of resources available for a certain purpose”, so you have to already have these ideas in your mind so that when fear does strike, and it will, you will have weapons at your disposal to squelch the fear thoughts immediately. Don’t wait! Print these out! Save them to your phone or computer! Plaster them on the walls! Whatever you have to do to knock down fear immediately, do it!
Musings of a Minster’s Wife read where “fear not” was used 365 times in the Bible, only to find out after doing her own research, the phrase in the intended context is only used about 80 times. She also found other word pairings (do not be afraid, do not fear, be not afraid) used about 30 times. Still, that’s a lot of times God tells us not to fear worldly things. Also, check out her beautiful word graphic here. She used “Fear Not” as the main point and surrounded it with scripture. Very cool!
Until next time, be sure to share things you are fearful of (psycho cats, spiders, losing someone, losing your job, etc.) in the comments below.
And here are some valuable resources I found that you might enjoy about dealing with fear:
Proverbs 31 Ministries – When Fear Paralyzes Your Faith
Season of Hope – How to Pray Against Anxiety Attacks, Panic, & Fear
Musings of a Minister’s Wife – So How Many Times is Fear Not Actually in the Bible?
Faith and Health Connection – Receive Affirmations Using Scripture by Text Messages
Uncommon Help – 5 Sure-fire Ways to Overcome Fear and Anxiety Today