I am always learning life lessons and God’s messages to me over the last few weeks lessons have been about fear versus focus. I am going to take these learnings about pushing past unhealthy fears, in the hopes that others won’t waste any unnecessary time on fear. This is also a sample of work I sometimes do with a coaching client, although we go into depth. Here goes!
Fear differs from healthy concern because a healthy concern allows room for growth and movement toward goals despite a difficult circumstance. For example, here are a few healthy concerns; f you didn’t study for a big test and you know you are going to do poorly, if you disobeyed your parents, broke trust with your mate, or more dramatically, there is a big dog chasing you and you need to run (in which case, please stop reading!). Anyways, God gave our bodies a way to detect, correct and move through these healthy concerns, and our response to them grows us up in Him, and thus we learn from it. Unhealthy fear, on the contrary, gets and keeps someone stuck and in a panic. Here are a few more annoying things fear does to us when we give in to it.
Accomplishments of Fear:
- Brands us with today’s predicament forever (globalizes it to be an everyday occurrence even when your situation will change).
- Freezes us from accomplishing our day’s tasks (we often distract ourselves from life or check out since we don’t want to feel fear, thereby not feeling anything important like love or duty).
- Takes our eyes off God and makes us look for “other” aka “sinful” ways of doing things (“God doesn’t seem to be helping, so I think I’ll give in to something I know I shouldn’t do, but since I’m on my own, may as well”-type of thinking).
- Makes us feel pain emotionally and sometimes physically (Imagining you are sick or sicker than you are, feeling scared and experiencing panic making everything you are really going through even harder).
- Makes us forget our goals in view of managing the present struggle (This can be good to manage a struggle, but when the fear itself is the focus, you lose sight of the real goal for the day).
- Makes us less emotionally attractive to those around us, who can’t help but see us giving in to negativity and purposelessness, lack of hope, etc. This is frustrating because it is in these times you need friends and family most, and you may not see how you are pushing them away.
Take a moment to pause and consider what other roles fear plays in your life. It uniquely plays upon each of us a little differently. We know some things that apply to everyone though, such as when the Bible says, in Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”
Since everyone fears, this blog isn’t to demean anyone going through it, but on the contrary, to help someone from becoming wrapped up in it after they have done all they can to help their situation.Focusing on truth, rather than the fear, is so important during these times, because it helps you move through the painful circumstance and back toward the goals you want to accomplish.
Here are some quick suggestions to get you focusing instead of fearing!
- Read the above Bible verse (Proverbs 29:25) and spend a moment praying for God to release you from the fear. Prayer does more than anything else can do for your case against fear.
- Add this verse to the former in your reading (or better yet, try to memorize it or write it down and place in your view); “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).
- Try to take some time to calmly isolate whatever fear is strongest in your mind. Sometimes random thoughts can overwhelm, so it’s best to know what is truly the biggest stressor. (Ex: The busy day seems too difficult, but when you isolate things it is the dental appointment causing anxiety. Now you can speak to that fear directly with rational truth or speak to someone about it, pray about it, etc. On the contrary, it may be the larger narrative of the busy day that is causing problems for you, such as in the case of setting yourself up for failure with an overly chaotic day – I do this sometimes and it’s nice to pray through solutions and prioritize, leaving room for good rest or play, depending on the need).
- Make a decision to address or change the fearful situation you have now identified. You may decide to journal out truths, to remember to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2nd Cor 10:5), to remember Phil 4:8 (to think of things good and lovely), to remember Jeremiah 29:11 (God’s special plans for your life), or you may decide to make a to-do list for the day that will force you to unfreeze from your panic mode, to take deep breaths, to tell the person you need to talk to that you have something to say, to stop looking up health info, to eat better, to exercise, to spend time with a friend or volunteering, to go to church, etc). Be creative – there are many ways to distract yourself from fear.
- After you try something, be a student of yourself and especially of God. How did your #4 plans go – did you truly let go? If not, why not? Were there temptations strong that you could use accountability in praying through? Were there unforeseen obstacles? Did it go better than expected? You can study yourself to find out what went well for next time, and leave behind suggestions that simply didn’t work. Study your Bible to see what God says about your life and fears. I know despite the circumstances, God brings His children through each and every hard time with love, purpose, peace, and ultimately the joy of salvation.
- Now it’s time to focus. Taking into consideration your overall life goal, what is your ultimate hope for today, that will bring you one step closer to fulfilling your mission? Will you be most blessed by a day of rest? Will you get closer to the goal by calling others to pray with them? To babysit and be with simple and fun kids? To work hard at your office? To pound some pavement on the job search? To study for the classes you know you are supposed to take? To raise endorphin levels by working out? To do a time of sweet fellowship with God? Focus on what God is saying for you to do today, and what the best steps are going to be.
- Take some time to write down your plans for today before the day begins or early on in it so you can be sure to side-step any snares that come your way. This includes preparing for what you can do if the day does not go as planned. You can always continue to plan for other days ahead simply because today did not go well, as long as you don’t put all of your hopes on tomorrow and try to get out of today’s roles.
- If you are stuck, call us at Reflections Counseling Center and we can walk through your situation with you, step by step, and help you to let go of the fears and to focus on what God’s plans are for your life – plans too wonderful to comprehend! Remember Psalm 139:11 and relax with me that we follow an amazing God, “If I say, “Surely the darkness will hold me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to You.”
Christa Hardin, July 25, 2014