Why is it so easy to frequent the nagging bother of discomfort versus addressing it head-on? Many times we have witnessed or experienced repetitive cycles, such as fear, and wonder why on earth would I or anyone else keep going back to the same old same old.
Studies show the primary reason people return to the familiar is because, even if it isn’t the best thing for us, it’s familiar – like my favorite chair covered in animal print with a lush, throw (or that red blanket I received as a high school graduation present years ago, it’s a hot mess, now, but I still have it). It’s so doggone familiar we’d rather not move, regardless of the outcome. All of the “what if’s” stirring in our minds compel us to endure with what we have become accustomed to. As if the concern of the unknown – moving forward – is more petrifying than staying stuck in the pattern of our situation. It’s like watching reruns of the same show.
Fear is a powerful state of consciousness. It is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined. It can have a very strong effect on the mind, body and mental capacity. It’s something we all have in common, in varying degrees. We might be concerned about finances, worry about our children or doubt things will turn out as we hope.
This four-letter word is an aggressive predator with a ferocious grasp. It can stifle your thinking and actions. Fear can create doubt. And it can steal your peace and joy. If this internal beast isn’t captured, it can stop you dead in your tracks, like the Komodo dragon. I remember watching the Discovery Channel with my nephew, William, years ago. The Komodo dragon grips and rips its prey while releasing its poisonous, shock-inducing venom. We can be just like that lifeless prey paralyzed in the mouth of fear, unable to move, if we wanted to.
Faith is an essential characteristic of our existence. It is “ . . . the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it . . .” (TLB)
The truth is, we weren’t created to allow fear to dominate our thinking or our lives. Check out Dr. E. Stanley Jones observation on fear: You are inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not our native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. We live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. When experiencing anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath–these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely–these are my native air. To live by worry is to live against reality. (Source unknown)
Below are a few tools I have adopted to increase my faith and trust when fear, anxiety or doubt is present:
Write about it. Otherwise known as journaling, adopted from Living As Conqueror’s, by Charlotte Thomason, LMSW. Take some time to identify the source of your fear, and answer the following questions.
- What happened? Briefly, describe and write about your fear.
- What did you think or feel?
- What does the Bible say? Find and write a scripture that will help you in this area of your life. Contemplate on the truth of the Word. Read it out loud. Put it in your phone or write it on a card. It is always good to have it available when you need it.
Pray. Prayer is a powerful vehicle. Once you’ve identified the fear and found scripture to increase your faith, ask God to give you the strength to overcome what may be keeping you from advancing. Don’t give up. Prayer is effective and has been a vital resource throughout my life.
Have confidence. Proverbs 3 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to our own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” Once we write it down and pray, depending on God to manage the situation means letting go. This may be the most challenging aspect of our lives. I know it is for me, however, I have experienced God in the most difficult of circumstances.
Talk to someone. Nothing compares to sharing your challenges with someone you trust. It could be a friend, family member or professional. Discussing what might be troubling you is a healthy practice. Receiving feedback allows you to see things from a different perspective. I have used each of these resources over the course of my life and have benefitted tremendously from their guidance.
These are just a few approaches I have taken over the years to help me work through fear. Be assured that God is at work in every area of our lives, even when facing anxiety, worry or doubt.
Which tools or resources have you used to overcome fear, anxiety or doubt?