An Experience in Healthy Fear
My daughter Sylvie is courageous. But she’s also one-year-old. There have been plenty of times when her courage was actually just plain unsafe.
Like the time she started a small fire for me while I was going to the bathroom. She probably wanted me to feel cozy and ready for Fall, so she made a swift decision to play with the very cool knobs on the stove as I was away for a few seconds in the Forbidden Room.
You can imagine her surprise as I yelled “NO!” repeatedly at her as soon as I heard that loud clicking sound of the spark igniter. Then, I’m sure she felt confusion as she saw me barreling to her in a full-on sprinting waddle with my pants around my ankles. By the time I screamed and blew out the fire that had started–the bib I’d absentmindedly left on the stove rack was now horrifyingly torched–she was just plain scared and needed a hug.
I wasn’t sure whether to count this as a mom failure or a teaching moment for both of us, knowing that even though a small disaster had sprung up, the end result was a great one. I learned to never put anything remotely flammable on the stove, for one. But more importantly, it’s a special kind of mom victory when you discover you’ve accidentally taught your daughter to be both afraid of the stove and of fire.
Fear that Binds Us
I have all kinds of healthy fears, as well.
After all, fear serves a really great purpose in my life. I’m afraid of close proximity to fast-moving vehicles–good. I’m afraid of wild bears–great. I’m afraid of hot, molten lava–even better (I mean, I’m sure I would be afraid of lava if I ever encountered it.)
But I’m also afraid of grasshoppers–not so useful. I’m afraid of heights–again, not usually ever helpful. I’m afraid of sharing my blog–
Well. I guess I can’t gloss over that one. I am super passionate about blogging and all it entails…except for one tiny thing. I just get uncomfortable saying that I blog, out loud. I’d prefer to have a secret public journal like Mike Birbiglia. Or an anonymous writing outlet like everyone in 2004.
Much to my annoyance, I knew that I needed to rip off the band-aid and share it already. I didn’t want anyone to find out about my blog years after the fact and feel like I’d been keeping a secret. And I also knew that telling others was the best thing for growing my readership; especially one made up of amazing and wonderful people who already care about me.
Plus, I kind of knew what God thought about the whole situation.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7, NIVWhen I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4, NIV
Fear can bind us. It keeps us from knowing God’s love and experiencing His power. He wants to set us free from those unhealthy fears.
God’s on our side, so who can be against us?
When Fears are Unhealthy
God didn’t snap his fingers and make my blogging fears disappear. He’d rather I grow and move forward in spite of my fears. He’d rather I show my trust in Him with my actions even when my brain has decided against my wishes that something is terribly wrong. That’s called courage.
And after reading a blogging book, I learned that I wasn’t alone. I learned that a lot of bloggers are serious introverts who happen to love writing in this form. Some of us need some encouragement, time and space, and maybe a hand to hold in order to proclaim that we’re publishing our words online.
If that’s you, I understand more than you know.
My Journey to Brave
So here’s what I did…I told a couple of friends who really get me that I was feeling weird about sharing my blog, but that I was going to do it soon. To a lot of people, this would be the strangest thing to be hesitant about. Good thing my friends are not most people. They were both sweet and encouraging and prayed for me.
Telling my friends was the first step I took toward doing the thing that scared me most.
And let me encourage you by saying that when I finally took the leap, it wasn’t so bad. Having the support of friends and my husband and especially God goes a long, long way.
I’ll bet you a million dollars that for whatever you’re facing, you’ll feel the same way when you do the thing you fear the most.
Because whether your worry is over public speaking, public posting, or even grasshoppers, you can be sure of this:
You are not alone.
Other people have gone before you and can support you. Everybody knows what fear feels like, and even if your friends don’t share your exact same fear, I think they will get it. If they don’t, there’s someone much bigger who has your back.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4, NIV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Even on social media.)
Joshua 1:9, NIV/Laura’s Edition
I think that God understands your illogical fear more than you know. He knew when sin entered the world that we’d take good things and distort them. Anger would turn to violence, admiration would become jealousy, and fear would morph into anxiety. The great news is that He can handle our fears, He forgives us, and He and helps us get through it all.
So, hold on to Him and do whatever you’re afraid of doing. If you need some extra help, seek after it. But do take some baby steps–or big steps–toward overcoming your fears.
God wants us to be courageous, strong, and only afraid of things like fire erupting in our homes near our children. Trust me. Just like I soothed my daughter, He’ll get you through the obstacles and will be there with a great big hug when it’s over.
Tips on Doing the Thing You Fear
- Tell your friends that you’re going to do it, explain to them that it’s difficult, and ask for support.
- Write it out. If you like to process things by writing, grab a journal and get those negative emotions out there.
- Read Psalms and meditate on God’s goodness to you, remembering that He’s seen you through a lot already.
- Read scripture on bravery. The Bible is full of words that will bolster your courage. Combat each fear and negative feeling with a truth from scripture.
- Read a devotional with a focus on bravery. I love this one!
- Throw comparison and perfectionism out the window. Remember that your story is your own, and be proud of your journey.
- If your fear is related to putting yourself “out there,” focus on others and how what you have to offer is helpful for them.
- If you’re struggling, talk to a mentor, a pastor, a therapist or a doctor. Sometimes our brains are releasing all the wrong signals and we need help to correct that.
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