4 Steps to Pushing Through Fear
Fear is the thief of growth and change that we cannot afford to feed. We can’t kill it, but we can put it so far in the background that it loses its power and ill-gotten authority over us.
An entire life can be consumed by fear in ways that stops all growth, all change and all good things. Sure, every doggie gets a bone every once in a while, but fear cancels the option for a daily influx of good, meaty and tasty bones. Some of us are afraid of failure. Some of us are afraid of success. Some of us are afraid of the dark. Some of us are afraid of the light. Whatever our fears, they gain more power every time we choose not to face and make war with them.
It’s OK if you’re a chicken. What’s not OK is failing to live it in spite of the fear. It is a normal thing to be afraid of the unknown or to be wary of a situation, but there is a great benefit to trying anyway because the only thing that can fail is a try. So, when we don’t bother trying because we’re afraid of failing, we cheat ourselves out of discovering new areas of ourselves and those around us, taking new opportunities, or gaining new life and work skills. Also, in a very twisted way, we can even cheat ourselves out of love and care because we are too afraid to be vulnerable. Lastly, and maybe the worst thing, we cheat ourselves out of functioning in our purpose even if we don’t know what that is yet. We will never find it if we’re always afraid to walk outside and look for it.
So here are a few ways to handle the thief blocking the entrance to your life:
If we want to conquer our fears, we need to first identify them one at a time. Whether it’s a fear of heights or a fear of loneliness, we have to call it by its name if we ever hope to make it obey us. When a boss, leader or authority figure wants something, they don’t just blurt out a need. They go to their subordinate and say things like, “Hey Dave, I need you to take care of this.” or “Hey Kate, do you have this done?” We identify the person and then we state our request. When you approach your fear and call it by name, it becomes more vulnerable to you because now you know its name. An even clearer example may be calling our poor children by their entire government name when they’re in trouble. When they hear their whole name, they know that mom or dad is serious, and that there will be no room for disobedience.
Knowing our fears and knowing why we are afraid are often two different things. In order to better instruct it, we have to figure out why that thing bothers, frustrates and frightens us so much. If you have a fear of traveling, why? Are you afraid of crashing? Are you afraid to be too far away from your home? Are you afraid of traffic or crowds? For these or any other reasons, why do these reasons exist? Take a look back. Really dig deep and look for the root of that fear of traveling. When you find it and understand why, you’ll be able to reconcile that root with what is going on now.
Run and Tell it
If we were capable of conquering our fears alone, we’d be rid of all of them by now. Whether we like it or not, we all need help. Now that we’ve identified and defined our fear(s), we have to put ourselves in a position of authority over them. In my experience, the best way to do that has been through prayer to give myself something to focus on that I know is bigger than my fear. If you’re not there yet, that’s perfectly fine. You can always phone a friend, coach or mentor who can help you talk, cry and shake your way through it. A friend, coach or mentor who can pray for you is a bonus. However you choose to tell it, make sure that the person you tell will never be OK with allowing you to stew in your fears. Make sure they love you enough to push, pull or drag you if you need it. You can be angry and even afraid, but the choice will be yours to work through it or live in it.
Surrender it To God
When you surrender it, you’ll be lighter, and you will begin to move forward. It will be difficult the first several times, but each time you take a step, your fear gains less and less control, because the perfect love of Christ will begin to cast it out (1 John 4:18). Whatever you are afraid of will still exist, but over time, the space in your mind for it will become so small that it will soon find itself out of real estate. It won’t be because you’ve become a better person, a saint or a boss. It will be because you will have learned to trust God more than you believe your anxieties. You will be afraid, but you will choose to go.
This is my personal formula, born of my preference to know the way things are made and how they work. The only way I understand to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) is to let God help me wrestle my fears into submission. Not all of us are that brand of bold, and that is not a problem. Whatever equation or process God gives you, however long it takes, you get a total of 365 days in a year to wake up and make decisions that can change your life for the better or for the worst. The reality of just how many opportunities we are given to make those decisions doesn’t weigh that much until we realize that God really understands our natures when it comes to fear. He even addresses it often.
Get up and take your first steps.
It will be difficult the first several times, but each time you take a step, your fear gains less and less control, and you will have more and more power over your decisions. The fear won’t change, but your mindset about it will change. Whatever you’re afraid of will still be there, but over time, the space in your mind for it will become so small that it will soon find itself out of real estate. It won’t be because you’ve become a better person, a saint or a boss. It will be because you’ve learned to love yourself and others more than you’re afraid. You will be afraid, but you will choose to go, do and say in spite of the fear. Instead of just a chicken, you will then be an armored chicken…aware of the risks but willing to take them.