“What would you do if fear wasn’t a factor?”
I sifted the velvet tassels through my fingers and adjusted the sofa pillow on my lap. My counselor sat across from me and smiled holding a clipboard and pen, ready to dive into my inner world. It was my first appointment. The electric fireplace warmed the atmosphere as I thought about what else I would do if I stopped allowing fear to take over my life.
“I would start a blog.”
I remember dreaming about becoming an author when I won first place in elementary school for my cloth-covered book. That dream never died. Words felt like they were stirring in my soul, and starting a blog seemed like a great way to share the hope of Christ in my life. I didn’t know if I had the courage to face my fear of what people would think of me. I had deep fears of being misunderstood, rejected, and making mistakes in front of others.
Even though I’d been a Christian since I was seven-years-old, I hadn’t realized how much fear crippled my faith. I had bold faith moments in my life, but they were just that—moments. The spirit of fear still seemed to hover over me like a dark cloud. I struggled to live confidently in God’s purpose for me.
One day, I poured out my heart to the Lord and told him how tired I was of being so afraid all the time. Finally, all the fears I’d held inside escaped in sobs and I told God everything I was afraid of. Things like being terrified of getting in a car accident, my children getting sick, and worrying about what people thought about me. I was listening to praise music, and the words “Oh, how he loves us” kept repeating. Over and over again. It was as if God was speaking them to me.
In that moment, all my fears were quieted by the love of God.
“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love drives out fear. God’s love for us arms us with strength and courage.
I made the decision to stop allowing fear to rule my life that day. Then I became a student of my own anxieties, dissecting how fear had overtaken areas my faith.
I learned to differentiate healthy fears (natural fear) that protected me from danger and unhealthy fears that held me back from living God’s purpose for me.
The best questions I asked myself when deciding what fears to face were: Does this fear have a hold on me? Does this fear prevent me from accomplishing God’s purpose for my life? From loving others?
I prayed about what fears God wanted me to overcome first. One of them was my fear of driving on freeways. And another was learning to live confidently in who God made me to be and what he’s called me to do.
The more I stepped into my fears, even when I was afraid, the more I quenched the spirit of fear. Fear doesn’t rule me anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with it. Worry is my greatest temptation. But when anxiety tries to hold me down, I fight back.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
Maybe today you want to live like your faith is more important than your efforts to protect yourself. It starts with recognizing fear’s hold on you and then deciding to follow Jesus wherever he asks you to go and whatever he wants you to do.
Today, facing fear feels more like expectancy—waiting to see how God will lead, excited to see what his next step is. As I learn to recognize and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I’ve discovered the active presence of God in my life enabling me to take bold steps and fear less.
During Paul’s imprisonment, he wrote amazing letters to encourage his dear friend Timothy. He spoke of Timothy’s great faith and exhorted him not to let fear hinder his ministry and the gifts God gave him. Paul recognized how fear can be a hindrance to the work God wants to do in and through us. The fact that Timothy loved the Lord and was still warned by Paul, shows us that we are all susceptible to allowing fear to hold us back from going forward with confidence in God’s calling for us.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (1 Timothy 1:7)
Paul tells Timothy to “stir up the gift of God which is in you,” or in other versions, “to fan into flame the gift within you.”
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)
When you choose to follow Jesus and believe Christ died for your sins and rose again, you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit! The same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside you. The Holy Spirit gives you the strength and courage to face your fears. We have to stir up our gift and use the power God gave us to face our fears.
The Holy Spirit guides you on your own personal journey. He’s your Good Shepherd and will lead you gently, one step at a time.
“We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
When we choose to have courage by trusting in who God is, we grow a spirit of faith.
I’d like to share with you 10 things that have helped me trust in who God is and smother the spirit of fear.
10 Ways to Smother the Spirit of Fear
- Think about your fears. What fears are healthy? When do you think healthy fear becomes unhealthy? How have unhealthy fears affected your life? What does freedom look like for you? What fears have a hold on you?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and help you face your fears.
- Listen for the voice of God (Be still before him. Pray and spend time in His word so you can discern the leading of the Holy Spirit.) He will speak to your heart and lead you to and through your next step of faith.
- Put on the Spiritual Armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
- Choose to follow Jesus where he leads and obey him.
- Replace the lies of your fears with the truth of who God is (See my free PDF of fear-fighting verses).
- Take it one step at a time (God will help you know how big or small each step is)
- Document your progress and your next step.
- Confide in a friend and ask them to pray for you.
- Thank the Lord ahead of time for His provision, protection, and promises.
I was so thankful Alisa Nicaud invited me to be a part of the Freedom from Fear blog tour. During the month of April, bloggers who write about fear, got together to offer a blog post and free resources to help fight fear. You can find their posts here.
We got together to offer these free resources to help you fight fear!
I want to support you in your journey. If you enter a prayer request for the fears you are battling, I will write a prayer for you in my reply.
I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Help me to walk in the spirit of your strength and not in the spirit of fear. Help me to have the courage to obey when you call me out into deeper faith. Help me to discern your voice above the voice of fear and self-doubt. I will not allow fear to hinder the use of my spiritual gifts. I love you, Lord. You keep my mind at peace.