Fear can feel crippling if we allow it. Instead, let’s call it out and calm it down.
Faith is not always my reflex. I wish it was. I wish you could tap on my fears with a soft hammer and faith would pop up involuntarily like a child’s leg does for the doctor. Just a little stimulus and boom – there’s my faith. Sometimes it works that way. In carefully practiced situations, when a friend is struggling with something a little more familiar, kids or marriage or work issues – I’m first in line to pray with and for them, believing in God’s ability to intervene and sustain.
When Fear Feels Tangible
But sometimes I’m slower. Sometimes my reflexes are lethargic. When I’m charting new territory and I have no muscle memory here, I sit with my thoughts longer, sink in the tension for a while without even realizing the rising tide. Yesterday was a perfect example. Fear was imminent and the cause was valid. This wasn’t the “what if my kid grows up and still does not know how to pick up after himself like a normal human being” fear. This one was immediate and close enough to touch – the “things really might not be okay” kind of fear. Fear is still a bit of a mystery to me.
It’s a houseguest that no one even let in. No one really knows when it arrived. It’s just suddenly there, churning your mind, messing with your nervous system. It can take me a surprising amount of time to even acknowledge its existence. This tension, those sharp words, these racing thoughts – oh, wait a minute, I’m giving way to fear here. Maybe you are quicker at recognizing it. I hope so. But I can be slow on the uptake at times.
Proclaim His Greatness
So this particular evening I sat on the couch while my four kids played with the Legos strung across my living room floor. I turned outcomes over in my mind. Restless, I fiddled with my fingers and silently wondered what to do, when my 6-year-old, the youngest of my bunch, began singing almost mindlessly as he connected colorful bricks. His words were the overflow of what we sang in church that very morning. “Jesus, Jesus you make the darkness tremble.”
I paused my fidgeting at the sound of his small voice. “Jesus, Jesus, you silence fear.” Yes, yes. That’s it. That’s everything! In an instant, I was up and seconds later I was blasting that song through my home loud enough to drown out my off-key singing voice. At the sweet reminder from my own child, I was proclaiming His greatness rather than sitting with my fear.
Through the praise of children and infants, you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
In the aftermath, I realized I need a better battle plan. I need a way to boss myself around, to will my heart into action when fear paralyzes me. So I made a list. For you and me both. In case of emergency, start here.
Worship re-instates proper positioning. It realigns my heart, transfixed on the real and scary thing in front of me, toward the greatness of the One before me. Worship settles me in humility, lifts my can-do eyes, and re-orients my fear toward Him.
Prayer is not only a conversation, but an act of humility, when I force my mind to stop reeling, fixing, and begin a conversation with the Creator of the universe, who bends His ear to listen to me. Why do we minimize this at times? I can talk openly, vulnerably, about the angst I am feeling. David modeled some hard, heart dialogue for us in the Psalms as did Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He desires our conversation here.
The words we have committed to memory are our lifeline in these moments. On the day I spoke of above, I opened my Bible to read and could not settle my mind enough to focus. Fear does that, friend – which is why we must know truth, have it tucked away in our hearts. We don’t need to make this harder than it is. Start small. One verse. One passage. One sentence. Fill your heart and mind with deposits to draw from in the future.
We sing songs about this on happy days, “praising Him in the storm” and all that, but there is a gut-wrenching honesty to our praise when we are standing knee-deep, drenched in that very storm. We can boldly remember His faithfulness in the past. We can hope defiantly, knowing His goodness despite what we see in front of us. We can praise Him for His nearness, truth that supersedes our feelings in this very moment.
This can be both beautiful and challenging. Use discernment here. Share carefully with a friend or mentor who you can trust to point you to truth, a friend who will lift your arms and stand in the gap. You don’t need an army. Just find a friend or two who can help you process rightly.
I’m tacking this one up for future days. Storms often come with little warning. Be prepared. I promise He will meet you there.
Choose Brave Not Anxiety
I want to know a courage that comes from Him alone because I know this job we have to do, this world we live in, desperately demands it. I hope you’ll join me. My new book, I Choose Brave: Embracing Holy Courage and Understanding Godly Fear shares more about what it means to be brave and where to channel that fear.
Katie, I Choose Brave
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Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.