Part 1 on Fear
Fear is a distressing emotion that is caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, evil, painful, or threatening. Fear is basically the belief that something bad is going to happen to you, whether real or perceived. This emotion triggers the body’s fight or flight response, a basic survival mechanism that prepares the body to react to danger. However, the experience of chronic fear is highly debilitating. People who live with chronic fear habitually feel vulnerable and unsafe. They feel little to no sense of security. At the core of a fearful mindset is the belief that, “I can’t trust anyone. I am not safe. I will be harmed.” Do you feel controlled by fear? Have you felt haunted and oppressed by fear? Fear is a thief that seeks to rob every God-given promise from you. Fear is not our friend; instead it deceives, destroys, and paralyzes. In this article, which is the first in a series on fear, I outline four ways in which fear robs your life.
1) Fear Predicts the Worst
Fear robs you of hope for the future and its dark shadows blanket you with dread. When we agree with fear, we live with an imminent sense of doom. The line between “what might happen” and “what is” becomes blurred. For example, a pain in the chest is interpreted as a heart attack and one failed test indicates no college admittance. When we buy into the lie of fear, we behave as if our fear had come true and suffer as a result. For example, if you fear cancer, you will feel the heaviness of despair as if you had already been diagnosed with it. Fear-based thinking envisions the worst-case scenario and says: “This is my future and I am unable to survive it.” Fear thrives in a poverty mindset, which is a way of thinking that forecasts lack. It is the belief that your life will be perpetually bad and that you will never be enough.
2) Fear Reduces Your Identity
Fear strips you of your identity as a powerful son or daughter of God. When you subscribe to fear-based beliefs, you allow your feelings to reduce your identity. You start to believe that you are what you feel. As a result, fear makes a person feel small, powerless, and weak. In Judges 6, the Bible tells us that Gideon hid in a winepress in order to escape the attacks of the Midianites. He saw himself as weak, but God called him a mighty warrior. When God commissioned Gideon to lead his nation to freedom, God said, “Go in the strength you have.” Gideon already possessed the strength inside himself, but his fear caused him to forget who he was born to be. Gideon allowed his circumstances to define him. But God changed the culture inside of Gideon by calling forth his true identity, which launched Gideon on the path to changing the culture around him.
3) Fear is a Tormentor
Have you ever felt tortured by the voice of fear to the point where it kept you up all hours of the night? Fear is anything but quiet. Fear steals your peace and does not allow you to rest. Fear is a relentless, hostile voice in the background of your mind. Fear threatens: “If you perform on stage people will laugh at you! You will be sick forever!” Fear holds you hostage: “Stay home, it’s not safe outside.” Fear harasses: “You are going to get cancer. You are going to die a tragic death and your children will starve.” Fear belittles: “You are pathetic. You are nothing.” Fear haunts: “You will be assaulted and kidnapped.” Chronic fear is oppressive. It causes many people to feel trapped inside their minds, unable to get relief from fear’s destructive propaganda and terrifying imagery.
4) Fear Steals Your Destiny
Do you make decisions based on fear? Fear chokes your future potential, persuading you to back down and hide. Fear is the enemy’s greatest weapon to deceive and paralyze Christians. The enemy wants you to buy into the lie that you are powerless and to prevent you from fulfilling your God-given assignment. Fear says: “Don’t take that job, you will fail. Don’t travel, you will get a disease.” Unable to cope with the intense emotional distress caused by fear, people reduce their lives in order to eradicate any or all risks. They might feel an initial sense of relief, but avoidance only enables fear to continue to control you. The more you run, the more fear grows. Fear makes your world small and sabotages your personal growth. How many missed opportunities have passed you by because of fear? How many of your dreams have died? When we look at life through the lens of fear, we see only limitations. As a result, we are reduced to only what we think we can be, instead of what God sees. Take off your fear glasses and you will see that you are more amazing than you think.
Christian Counseling to Overcome Fear
What fears have held you hostage? Are you tired of being bullied by fear? Is it time to recognize fear’s grip on you and look fear in the face? As a trained Christian counselor, I would be honored to help you find the root of fear in your life, resolve past trauma, and empower you to take back what fear has stolen from you. To find out more about how Christian counseling can help you overcome fear, please contact me here.
“Day 50: Headache,” courtesy of Kizzzbeth FCC (CC BY 2.0); “Really really really ow…” courtesy of Sarah, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Terra,” courtesty of Bert Cash, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)