Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Understanding fear

As an anxiety sufferer, fear is something I have become very familiar with over the years as it has dominated most of my life. Throughout my Christian walk, large portions of my time have gone into studying the complexities of human emotions using myself as the primary example - fear being one of the main ones. I wish to share this post with you all in the hope of bringing some enlightenment into your lives on this topic.

1. Fear comes from within.

It is so easy to sit and blame fear on things around us when for the most part, fear actually comes from within ourselves. Granted, there are times when this logic does not apply - i.e. if you are walking on the edge of a cliff and a wind is blowing against you, feeling some fear that you may be blown off is quite natural and understandable. But there are also many, many times when the fear we are facing is far less about our external circumstances and more about ourselves and wrong thinking we carry within our hearts.

I used to be afraid of everything, and everyone. Afraid of people, afraid of speaking, afraid of confrontation, afraid of car accidents, you name it, chances are, I was afraid of it. I have been walking the Christian faith for the last 12 years. This journey has taken me within - to look inside myself to find the root of these fears. I had so much fear in my life that living a life where I never had to face anything I was afraid of was completely impossible. Yet now I am walking with a freedom greater than any I have ever known. I am not completely free yet by any means but I am more free than I have ever been in my life. Things that used to terrify me to the point where I was nothing but a shaking mess - I can laugh at them now. Why? Because I had to realize that the source of fear had nothing to do with other people. It had nothing to do with speaking, confrontation, car accidents or anything like that. The source of the fear was me.

I could try and never drive a car again in order to avoid my fear of accidents - but this was nearly impossible, not to mention highly impractical and would have been very frustrating for those who continually had to drive me places! The main reason why just avoiding driving was wrong, however, was because it wasn't dealing with the root of the problem. It was just cutting the leaves off of the weed. This fear needed to be faced at its source - the weed of fear needed to be pulled out by its roots. In order to do that, I needed to learn to look within myself and find the true answers there.

2. Fear is so much more complex than we realize.

It annoys me when people are just told to "get over their fears" because so often, it's just not that simple. In my younger years as a Christian I was given a lot of advice by well-meaning people who wanted to help that didn't actually help me to get through my fears at all. People would tell me things like "You've just got to listen to more Christian music", "You just need to pray in tongues more" and "You've just got to feel the fear and do it anyway". The first two didn't help me at all, sorry to say. The last one did indeed have some merit as there were times when I did need to "feel the fear and do it anyway" yet overall this wasn't really a permanent solution as each day I would just face the same exhausting exercise of doing something while my whole body was shaking with fear.

As I began to learn about the spiritual forces that had been passed down to me through the generational lines I began to see that my fear was so much more complicated than I could ever have imagined. There were layers and layers of wrong thinking in my life - subconscious belief systems I carried within my own heart and operated out of without realizing. I began to heal myself properly when I began to face these fears and walk through them in full with the guidance and continued revelation of the Holy Spirit who gave me words of knowledge to help me understand what was happening within myself and gave me the right words to confess which helped bring these fears to the light, which caused them to lose their power and hold over me. This was the journey I needed to walk through to truly begin to eradicate fear from my life. Just "getting over it" simply would never have worked and would just have resulted in a lifetime of frustration.

3. God takes us on a path to help us face our fears.

God wants us to be whole, healed and fearless in Him. In the Bible it says "Do not fear" 365 times - one for each day of the year. My journey with God has involved walking through the darkest, most painful and most fear-contaminated parts of my life. He has lead me into situations that have truly frightened me beyond what I realized. Why? To torment me? Not at all - because this was where I needed to walk to bring the horrible fears to the surface that had been lurking in my subconscious mind for so long and polluting my life from the inside out with a constant sense of dread, uncertainty and anxiety. God lead me through these places not to hurt me - but to help me to heal once and for all.

I am currently in a time of rest. Being an anxiety sufferer, rest is not something I am familiar with or even remotely comfortable with. I am facing deeply uncertain circumstances in my life at this point. I am getting married in just a few weeks, with nowhere to live lined up as of yet, no job and no money to pay for anything. Yet I am not afraid. God told me this morning that this is a time of rest for me, and to not be afraid because He holds my future. Was this hard to hear? It was - until I finally realized why I found it so hard. I realized that I have associated rest with unimaginable fear and torment. I realized that I have been carrying a subconscious belief system that tells me that the most fearful and terrifying place to be in in life is a place where you feel as if you have nothing to fear whatsoever and are therefore oblivious due to blissful ignorance.

The subconscious message in my heart has told me this; "In the place where you fear nothing, that is the place to be most afraid because you are unprepared for anything and able to be taken completely by surprise. The most terrifying thing you could ever go through would be to believe that all was well and suddenly realize all too late that things were not well at all, and that you should have realized this earlier, but you didn't and therefore didn't prepare to prevent this. You weren't prepared for something bad to happen, so when it happened it was all your fault because you should have known better and should have done something to stop it. The only way you can stop horrible surprise attacks coming at you that you don't expect is to be expectant all the time - to be constantly on your guard and prepared for the worst."

This subconscious message has been buried in my thinking for as long as I can remember and has pretty much defined my entire life and caused a deep sense of restlessness as well as a constant sense of doubt and mistrust of pretty much everyone and everything connected to me throughout my life. God realized that I needed to face this so He has put me in a position where I've got no choice but to rest even when I probably should be stressing out. He's done this because I needed to face this deep, dark and insidious wrong thinking. The path He set me on was the path I needed to walk down because it was the only way I could face this fear and thus finally begin to heal of it.

In conclusion, I hope this has shed some light for someone. If fear grips your heart, as it did mine - there is a way out of it. Jesus loves you and He wants to help you. He wants to help you rid your life of fear so that you can live with the quality of life you've always wanted. He can (and probably will) lead you into hard places - but remember that He has got you in the palm of His hands, and that the places He will lead you are the places that you need to go in order to remove fear, doubt and insecurity from your life. It will be painful, as facing your fears can hurt. But it's productive pain, and on the other side of it is a life that can be truly enjoyed.

Take care.

1 comment:

  1. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!