“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore
All of my life, in one way or another I’ve battled fear – worry, anxiety, stress.
It’s something I think every one of us must face.
It affects us all, in different ways, at different times, in different seasons of our lives. It comes in many shapes and sizes. And disguises. Sometimes it’s that little gnawing creature, nibbling at the corners of our minds, making off with our peace a few crumbling pieces at a time. At others, it’s a monster squatting on our chest, making it impossible for us to breathe.
Looking back, reflecting on my own personal spiritual journey, I see three particularly important things I’ve learned that I’d like to share with you. Three things that have helped me and that I hope will be a help to you.
1. God used my fear to draw me to Him. Some of the sweetest, deepest, richest experiences I’ve ever had in my relationship with Him, the times when I have felt His presence most powerfully, when I have heard His voice most clearly, came about as a direct result of the suffering I endured. The desperation I felt. The determination to press in and grab hold of Him – only to find that it was He who’d grabbed hold of me.
2. It is possible to be set free from fear. Free from its stranglehold. Free from its domination and control. I’ve experienced it myself. I’ve been set free. Yes, sometimes I still feel fear, sometimes I still battle fear, sometimes I’m still tempted to fear, but I don’t live in fear. Not anymore. It’s hard to put into words the difference that makes.
3. When I feel afraid now, I see that as an alert, an indicator, or a warning. It helps me know that something isn’t right. Either I am in some kind of danger and I need to be alert and on guard, or there are some heart issues going on that I need to deal with. Once again it brings me to the feet of Jesus. The truth is that not all fear is bad. There is a healthy kind of fear … and a proper time and place for it. That heart-pounding sensation is meant to alert us when we’re in danger. It’s supposed to warn us when we’re about to engage in behavior that could put us in harm’s way. The right kind of fear at the right time can keep us alive. But the wrong kind of fear – unhealthy, unbalanced fear – can keep us from living life the way God intended.
The Scripture tells us that there is one kind of fear that God wants us to have. One kind of fear He wants us to live in. It’s the best kind, the healthiest kind: what the Bible calls “the fear of the Lord.” If you look up “fear” in the dictionary, you’ll find that fear can mean: Awe. Wonder. Reverence. Worship. “What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 10:12) Proverbs 9:10 explains, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
When we choose to fear God – when we reverence and respect Him, when we trust Him and obey Him, when we love Him and serve Him – we choose to live in His will and under His protection. And we don’t have to fear anything (or anyone) else.
You’ll find more encouragement from Scripture, along with all kinds of practical tips and suggestions in my latest book from Leafwood Publishers, What Women Should Know About Facing Fear. These are things God has been speaking to my heart through my own journey, as I’ve learned to face my fears — and over last twenty years in my ministry to other women — I’m thrilled to be able to share them with you here!