Overcoming My Struggle With Fear
“Don’t fear what they fear!”
I was reminded of this passage during my weekly church service this past Sunday and something about it struck me deep. This phrase was spoken by Peter in the New Testament (1 Peter 3: 14).These words have provided me a sense of comfort and excitement. Until now, I wasn’t quite sure why.
Fear is something EVERYONE experiences. Some people fear heights, others fear illness, some fear socialization, and some fear failure. The list is endless. Often times, fear is one of my greatest inhibitors. I can recall countless situations where I did not pursue an opportunity out of fear. For instance, when I was offered an individual therapist position at an outpatient treatment facility I was terrified. My initial thoughts were “ I have never done this. I can’t do this. What if I fail? I already have a job, I’ll just stick with that”. Every excuse I thought of was rooted in fear. If I have learned anything over the past 26 years it’s that fear can and should be overcome. My mother once told me “If fear is the main reason you don’t want to do it, then you should probably do it”.
Fear reminds me of the little devil that sits on your shoulder. It’s constantly putting me down and filling my head with negative thoughts. Fear turns the possible to the impossible and the positive to the negative. Fear creates an illusion of failure. Most of the time fear isn’t grounded in truth. I will fact check myself when feeling fearful. I try to come up with proof that validates my fear. Most of the time, I can’t do this.
Fear robs me of brilliant opportunities. Fear provide me with the perfect excuse to lead a completely sheltered and stagnant existence, but where is the joy in that? Fear will leave me asking; “I wonder how that would have turned out?”, when I had the ability to know the answer.
Overcoming fear is certainly NOT easy. It can actually feel hopeless. I continue to struggle with fear on a regular basis. I have come to learn that wrestling with fear may be a lifelong battle. However, I now know it is a battle I can win. I have tried a plethora of ways to overcome fear. I have tried to adopt the “screw it” attitude. I have also tried to rationalize my way out fear by comparing myself to others who were doing what I was afraid of. Finally, I have tried to undermine fear by rallying support from those around me. Although some of these tactics worked, none of them were long lasting. Each one was like a piece of scotch tape, perfect for the moment, but not reliable.
I have always been motivated to conquer fear given the fact that it holds me back. Only one thing has been consistently effective in undermining my fears. This is my Christian faith. The meaning of the words written by Peter in the New Testament, “Don’t fear what they fear” , finally make sense to me. These words are the key to overcoming any worldly fear I may have. With a belief and awareness of the constant presence of Jesus in my life, I truly have nothing to fear.
Peter is referring to people without faith when he says “they”. I am not too sure, but I think a life without faith relies heavily on success and perfection in this world. Peter was encouraging the Christians to not fear the worldly struggles we all experience (i.e death, pain, loss, etc.).
God promises each and everyone of his believers eternal life. Not a life like the one we currently live, but one free from any imperfection. We will be free from disease, death, bullying, war, and depression to name a few. This heavenly existence is absolutely promised to each of Jesus’ believers. There is something wildly comforting knowing that a world like that will be in my future.
I think a lot of fear develops out of an idea that this existence is all we will ever have. We fear death and illness because we don’t want to lose the life we are living. We fear change because we are comfortable. We fear failure because success is everything. A life with a faith in Jesus Christ is one free from those worries. This doesn’t mean I let everything fall by the wayside. This means that my fear is put into God first.
God doesn’t want us to be afraid or fearful of anything. He doesn’t use fear to punish us or teach us a lesson. In fact, scattered throughout the bible are countless times that Jesus tells us to put our fears in him and not to worry. Of course this is easier said than done, but it works. Each and every time I have consciously made an effort to release all my fears to God through prayer I have experienced a sense of peace. A peace that doesn’t come from anything of this world.
God wants me to turn all my fears over to him. He wants to make each of them an opportunity for me. Holding on to all my fears is too much to handle. The fears I experience were meant to be turned over to God, my creator. They were never designed for me to hold, which is why they are never completely overcome through me. I have learned that my faith in God is the one true solution to all my fears. I hand them over and let Him take it from there.