When Fear Creeps In
Ever notice how fear and worry can creep into your thoughts and ruin a perfectly good day? Not long ago I was having one of those days. I had gotten out of bed that morning feeling kind of shaky and unsettled. Sometimes life just seems uncertain, scary even. I wasn’t really sure what was behind these feelings, so I decided to write it all down. I made a list of all of the pesky fears that were nagging at me and stealing my joy. There were 12 items on the list… a combination of some impending dental work, stormy weather, a family member traveling in the bad weather, a couple of bank deposits not showing up, a lingering stomachache, an ever-expanding to-do list, and a few other random concerns.
Writing it down helped. I prayed about each one and went on about my business. A week later I came back to that journal entry and realized that all but one of these worries had completely resolved! And the one that had not yet resolved has been an ongoing opportunity to develop trust and patience. So why in the world did I waste the time and energy worrying? It seems so silly and counterproductive. But you know what? A week later I had a whole new list of things to worry and stress over. It’s an ongoing cycle.
Anxiety and worry… they’re forms of fear. FEAR. The emotion of self-preservation. It energizes us for fight or flight. But it can also cause us to freeze. To stand there like a deer in the headlights and do absolutely nothing. Fear can serve a purpose if there’s a true danger, but what about when there’s no true danger threatening our existence?
I read that the ancient Greeks taught that the opposite of joy isn’t sadness, but fear. It’s fear…all the “What If?” questions that we don’t yet have answers to… that gets in the way of experiencing joy and gratitude and being fully present to the world around us. Fear is that unwelcome guest who sneaks into the moments of everyday life to remind us of all the things that could go wrong. It’s the dark stranger lurking in the shadows, whispering lies to you about the horrible things that are going to happen and how you won’t be able to handle them.
Lately I realize I’m allowing fear to evoke the freeze response in my life. There are things I want to do… one thing specifically… a business idea Darron and I have dreamed and talked and prayed about for years. We’ve researched and gathered information and met with the appropriate people and now we have an opportunity to pursue it and we’re too afraid to make a move! The fears are not rational. But they’re still paralyzing.
Fear screams out “What if you fail?” “What if you don’t have what it takes?” “What if God abandons you?” Fear lies to you.
I opened my Bible to Proverbs this morning and saw this. “The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve given too much power to worrisome thoughts of things that could go wrong. I’ve entertained too many lies in my life.
I know I’m not alone in this. As a counselor, fear and anxiety show up in my office on a regular basis. People from all walks of life are believing the lies and living in fear, running or fighting or frozen, too paralyzed to accept the gifts of joy and grace and purpose and creativity our Father so freely offers.
I am learning to recognize that dark stranger lurking in the corner. He has a name. It’s “father of lies”. Jesus warned us about him. I refuse to give him a seat at my dinner table or a place to reside in my home. He is not welcome at my office, in my dreams for the future, and certainly not in my head.
I choose instead to fix my thoughts on the One who is called Faithful and True, who fights for me and speaks truth over me and will never, ever abandon me.
Food for thought: What fears have been holding you back from truly living? What truths can you begin proclaiming to help you break free?