Fear. You know the kind. It grabs you by the throat and keeps you up at night.
Fear that stops you in your tracks and paralyzes you until you cannot take another step.
Fear that reminds you of the bleakest moments of your life with a promise they will be back to visit soon.
Fear that reminds you of every failure, misstep and miscommunication.
Fear that takes a kernel of truth and creates a dialogue in your mind that says, “You will always” and “You will never.”
Knocking at my Door
I have a confession to make. Writing this blog scares me to death! I have been living in the safe world I created for a long time, and my fear tells me that if I step out of that protective bubble, my entire world will implode.
Fear whispers in my ear, “Psst. Hey you. Do you remember the last time you tried to promote suicide awareness? Do you remember that the only life you saved was your own? Do you remember what happened when you went to Texas to start your teaching career or the time you were training to be a life insurance salesperson? Do you really think this will turn out differently?”
Greedy and Relentless
Then my mind takes a walk down memory lane and revisits all the times bipolar disorder came out of nowhere and swatted me down like a fly.
And I remember how greedy and relentless bipolar is. She wants everything, so she sucks out your soul, leaving only shards. And then you are forced to sift through the remnants to find enough pieces to put your life back together.
And it doesn’t just happen once. The years go by and episode after episode you pick up the pieces to put your life back together again, but each time you lose a piece of your soul. You lose a piece of what makes you uniquely you.
A Safe Life
After a while, I was tired of picking up the pieces so I quit trying. I pieced together a life with what was left. I erected a protective bubble around my life and was very careful who and what I let in.
And it worked. I have a good life. I have a husband and a daughter and a family. I have a wonderful tribe of friends. If someone was on the outside looking in, they would think my life is pretty perfect.
But somewhere along the line, my life was no longer enough. It was no longer okay to sleepwalk through life checking items off of my to-do list without ever changing or growing or edifying God.
And then God placed a mission on my heart I could not ignore. He woke up the passion I squashed down eight years ago. He reminded me that my words have the power to change lives.
Faith vs. Fear
So here I am, doing it scared. I am ignoring the voice that says bipolar is knocking on my door because I am happy, energetic, and not sleeping my life away.
This time I will not let fear paralyze me. This time I won’t just daydream about the possibilities.
Fear and faith cannot coexist. You must choose one or the other. But what about when fear is screaming in your ear, and you seem to have misplaced your faith?
Here are four strategies to focus on when fear overtakes your faith:
1. Meditate on the truth.
Fear will lie to you. Every. Single. Time. It will whisper in your ear and fill your mind with distractions. It will downplay what you are doing right by magnifying what you are doing wrong. When my faith is depleted and fear rules the day, I meditate on this truth:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).
I will be honest with you. Sometimes I put this verse on perpetual repeat in my head until its truth tattoos my brain.
Focus on the facts—what you know to be true. Roll those truths around in your brain until they take root. Every time the voice in your head says, “You will always” and “You will never” remember what God’s word says about you and who you are in Him.
2. Change your focus.
If you can change your focus, you can change your life. Fear clouds your judgment, but it loses its grip on you when you turn your attention to something else.
“…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy—think about those such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
Turn your attention to your spouse, your children, your favorite book or song—anything that distracts you from the lies fear is feeding you. Focus on that positive aspect of your life until the picture it creates floods your mind and replaces fear’s destructive narrative.
3. Allow God to walk with you through your fear.
Fear is not from God. It is the opposite of what He wants for us. God’s son, Jesus Christ, came so we could have an abundant life, overflowing in blessings (see John 10:10).
Our fear lies to us and tells us we must be brave and walk through it alone. But God’s word tells a different story.
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” ( Isaiah 41:13 NIV).
God is waiting expectantly to walk with us through our fear. But we must get out of His way so He can do what only He can do. We must admit that we can’t do it on our own, and we must accept His help.
5. Rejoice, pray and receive God’s peace.
I know what you are thinking. Why would I rejoice while in the clutches of fear?
I get it. It is hard for me too. When I am in the grips of fear, I don’t want to praise God, and my prayers fall flat. But that is when I need to rejoice the most.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV).
Peace can be elusive, particularly when deep-rooted fear has taken hold. Turn to the author of peace and remember that He has you in the palm of His hands. Rest in His love. I don’t know about you, but I long for that peace. That is a peace worth fighting for.
Everyone feels fear at one time or another, but it is how you respond to that fear that determines your next steps. You can let the fear weigh you down, or you can work through the fear, so you can move forward in faith, ready to tackle whatever comes next.
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