“You’re the most scared person I’ve ever met,” my therapist said in front of our entire therapy group one evening. “I don’t know how you get out of bed in the morning.”
He definitely had my number. I was filled with fear, and I was looking for the cure. In all the wrong places. And he was the first person to call me on it. First to confront the scared little girl inside me at my weakest point.
For decades, I had masked my fear. Ignored fear. Stood up in spite of fear. Faced crowds with fear taunting me at every turn. Curled up in a ball at night with fear standing over me, waiting to greet me in the morning.
What I needed was a savior. Someone to rescue me from the pit of fear. Someone to bring the healing I so desperately needed.
I had looked and looked and looked for that savior in my life. Tried to paste that label of savior on a myriad of people who seemed to have the answers, the cure, the remedy for my fear. Teachers. Boyfriends. Political candidates. Pastors. Heroes. My Dad. My husband. Friends.
Have you ever tried to make someone your savior? In fact, I thought that therapist was going to be the one who would save me. He had all the answers. Too many answers, as it turned out. One day, I woke up and resigned from his group. Then I was more afraid than ever.
Fear is pushy. Demanding. Greedy. A leader that knows only the wrong way. A companion that is never satisfied. A rider on every trip. An interloper for every special day. The one who wants to be part of every deal and decision.
I spent many years of my life wrapped up in fear. Serving fear. Too easily giving the best parts of myself for fear’s easy taking.
I thought everyone was as fearful as I was. Operated in the red zone of panic every day, just like I was doing. Never relaxed or rested, just like I never did.
As I grew older, I learned how to push through the fear for brief periods and function like a regular human being. To put on my mask when I left the house each morning and wear it all day long. But I always slid back into fear’s clutches, exhausted and vulnerable.
My life began to crumble. Fear began pushing in on me until the night I found myself sitting in front of my open front door during a thunderstorm in Phoenix, Arizona. That’s when I began to surrender to the only Savior who could really save me. The one who would help me banish my fears. Forever.
Three years later, while I was reading Colossians 2 with my soon-to-be husband Gene, God broke down my wall of fear and resistance. God took me in his arms, pulled me closer to him than I’d ever been, and calmed every fear I had.
I won’t lie to you and say that I’ve never been afraid again. Fear is a tool the enemy still uses to taunt and test my faith. The difference now is that God is standing with me. We face my fears together. And we win each victory. Together.
One of my favorite activities is telling fear to get out and get lost. Sometimes I even say that aloud! In the ongoing battle, I have my Savior always with me. Here are the ways I stand up to fear so fear doesn’t win.
1. Stay in God’s Word. The enemy loves to whisper lies about the past, present, and future to me. The more I fill my life with God’s Word, the less room there is for those lies to take root and grow into more fears.
2. Pray. Not just the morning quiet time prayer to begin the day. All day long. Any time I feel attacked by the enemy or tempted to fall into fear. My voice calling out to God is the last thing the enemy wants to hear.
3. Stay in the present. Have fun and enjoy life. One of the best ways to be overcome by fear is to try to look into the future. I can look at all the details and think I know exactly how a situation is going to play out. But my heart knows that only God knows what is ahead for me. And best of all, he is with me every step of the way.
4. Take planned risks, and avoid daredevil risks. Consider the facts you have before moving forward and taking action. Leaping off cliffs while crying out to God is not the wisest course of action. Believe me. I’ve done that several times! Often, there is a lot of pain to walk through when you get to the bottom. And you might wear some scars through the rest of your life.
5. Trust others until you have a reason not to trust them. “Fear hates community,” as author and speaker Jon Acuff says. Not trusting others keeps us from enjoying wonderful, fun, enriching relationships. Trusting others beyond the point of betrayal or attack or lies or abuse brings only more fear and pain.
Face your fears today. You know what they are for you. For me at this time in my life, fear wears different costumes. The aging and health fears. Financial fears. Fears of nuclear war. Fears of attackers and thieves. These seem so rational in the reality of today’s world.
Yet, they are so irrational when I live in the reality of being God’s beloved child, protected and provided for by him. Every minute. Every day.
Recognizing fear when it comes is crucial in the battle. Refuse to let fear rob you of the joy God wants you to have in your life. Unplug from the things in our culture that feed your fears. Take every step as a step of faith with the only Savior who can truly save: Jesus.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. … For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:7, 9).
Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2018 by Laura Warfel