For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind – 2 Timothy 1:7
I used to think that as a Christian woman, fear isn’t something I should ever feel so whenever I experienced it, I felt guilty and chided myself, saying, “You shouldn’t be feeling like this. What happened to your faith?” I would go to friends and ask them what to do and they would say, “don’t think about what makes you afraid” or “the best way to overcome fear is to face it head-on.” Or I would spend hours on Google trying to find tips on how to overcome my fears. I found these tips which I tried:
- Allow yourself to sit with your fear for 2-3 minutes at a time. Breathe with it and say, “It’s okay. It feels lousy but emotions are like the ocean—the waves ebb and flow.” Have something nurturing planned immediately after your 2-3 minute sitting period is completed: Call the good friend waiting to hear from you; immerse yourself in an activity you know is enjoyable and engrossing.
- Write down the things you are grateful for. Look at the list when you feel you’re in a bad place. Add to the list.
- Remind yourself that your anxiety is a storehouse of wisdom. Write a letter, “Dear Anxiety, I am no longer intimidated by you. What can you teach me?”
- Exercise. Exercise can refocus you (your mind can only focus on one thing at a time). Whether you go on a short walk, head to a boxing gym for an all-out sweat session, or turn on a 15-minute yoga video at home, exercise is good for you and it will ground you and help you feel more capable.
- Use humor to deflate your worst fears. For instance, what are some ridiculous worst-case scenarios that might happen if you accept an invitation to deliver a speech to a crowd of 500 people? I might pee in my pants at the podium *** I will be arrested for giving the worst speech in history *** My first boyfriend (girlfriend) will be in the audience and heckle me.
- Appreciate your courage. Doreen would tell herself during difficult times, “Every time I don’t allow fear to keep me from doing something that scares me, I am making myself stronger and less likely to let the next fear attack stop me.”
These tips didn’t help me. First, I had to figure out what my fear was and then own it. I didn’t say to myself, it’s okay. I didn’t call a friend or immerse myself in an activity. That wasn’t dealing with the fear, just switching to something else which would make me feel better. The fear was still there. I have kept a diary of the things I’m grateful for. Telling my fear that I’m no longer intimidated by it didn’t help because it wasn’t true. I love to exercise and it helped to take my focus off my fear but as soon as I was inactive, it returned. Humor didn’t work. And courage escaped me.
I stopped trying to find help outside of the Bible. I turned to God which I should have done in the first place. I fasted and prayed. I wrote down my fear when I discovered that it was one of abandonment. My father had abandoned me when I was a teenager and needed him. All of my relationships ended up with the man leaving me. I began to think that something was wrong with me and was afraid of getting involved with anyone who showed any interest in me because I was afraid that like the others, he would leave me.
Then, God said to me, “Perfect love casts out fear.” He reminded me that He loved me with an everlasting love and that, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.“ He brought to my mind Psalm 27:10 which says, “For if my father and mother should abandon me, you would welcome and comfort me.
I learned that fear is not of God but of Satan, our enemy. It is God who delivers us from it. All I need to do is to simply put my trust in Him and not fear what others can do to me or say about me. I have God on my side. He is my Fortress and my Strength. Whenever I feel my fear coming on, I say to myself, In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Currently, I’m not in any relationship and that’s fine. I have come to the place where I am complete in Christ. He is enough. Through His constant love and faithfulness, I have overcome my fear.