Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

When You’re Afraid of Everything

on April 17, 2015
BBB 2015

Last weekend at the Broken Beautiful BOLD Fear Not event in Marion, IN, I had the opportunity to speak about being afraid.

I have a problem with fear. And yes, I realize it’s come up before. But I’ve been thinking through those fears lately and how much they really don’t help. At all.

Take, for instance, high school gym class—specifically, dodgeball. Or, as I like to call it in retrospect, the Hunger Games. Seriously, I think that’s where Suzanne Collins got the idea for the book. She was in junior high being forced by the adults to fight for her life as all the big kids slammed her with rubber balls and she thought, “This is crazy! Do they want us to kill each other?!” Ooh. I smell a bestseller!

Anyway, you all know how to play, right? The class is divided into two tea ms and they line up all the rubber balls they can find down the middle of the gym. At “Go!” you run to the line and grab a ball, back up and start throwing. If you hit someone on the other team, they’re out; if they catch your ball, you’re out.

Now, I can see that lobbing one into the air to the other team would have guaranteed I was out and could sit on the sidelines in unbruised comfort chatting with the other non-athletes. But I didn’t think of that. So I cowered in the back, hiding from the pain and embarrassment of not being a contender. I suppose I hoped my team would win and there I’d be, standing triumphant with the rest of the athletes. But I have a better memory of being the only one left. Which meant it was me against the best players on the other team. And they would smirk and laugh and let me have it.

Did my fear protect me? Not one bit. In fact, it made it worse. It left me vulnerable and alone. That’s what fear does.

This whole fear thing is all a bit ironic because for most of my life 2 Timothy 1:7 has been my favorite verse. Paul wrote this book to his friend and protégé, Timothy, to encourage him. To strengthen his faith and remind him of the truth he has known his whole life having been raised in the genuine faith passed from his grandmother to his mother to him. But Tim must have been hesitant because Paul felt he needed to remind the young man of the gift he had in Christ. Then Paul wrote, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

I’m glad Paul straight-up acknowledges the existence of a spirit of fear. He knows we have one. Plus he says “us” not “you.” It’s universal.

Fortunately, in the same breath Paul lets us know this fear is not from God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way. Being cowards or, even worse, shrinking from our responsibilities as believers because we’re afraid is not from Him. God has given us spiritual gifts, but they don’t include fear.

Instead, He offers us a three-item Fear Combat Kit: power, love and a sound mind. What amazes me about this is that it means we’re covered.

Let’s start with power—our physical strength. The strength of mind and body to withstand temptation—even temptation that comes in the form of fear. Fear restricts us. It makes us cower in the back of the gym instead of marching to the front and taking a stand. It makes us choose the easy road instead of one that could lead to pain or abandonment.

That does not come from God. Set it aside.

Next, we have love—our emotional strength. We all know what that is but how does it combat fear? Well, what is love? It is 1st Corinthians 13. Love is sacrifice. It is freely giving of yourself to the benefit of others. It doesn’t shrink from self-surrender but constantly asks, “What can I do for someone else?” When we’re focused on love, we won’t have time to be lonely. And we might just discover that future we’re so afraid of takes care of itself. Fear of loneliness asks, “But what about me?”

That does not come from God. Set it aside.

Finally, there’s a sound mind—our intellectual strength. God gives us the ability to be well-balanced in our minds. We know where we stand, we just have to claim it. I’m a dreamer with an imagination I have a hard time turning off. And, whether I like it or not, the dreamer in me can take me to tough places—whether it’s imagining horrible things or even beautiful things. My desire to fall in love and get married can lead to really sweet daydreams. It can be easy to get lost in them. Did I mention I’m also a hopeless, hopeful romantic? Oh, yeah. Hopeless because the dream will never die and hopeful because dreams do come true.

It’s perfectly fine to have dreams but a sound mind gives us perspective. It means the possibility of a dream not coming true doesn’t destroy us. Over the last few years, I’ve watched my lifelong desire of being a mother slowly die right along with my ovaries. And, to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why God said no to that longing. But can I take a breath every day and say life is good because He loves me? God has given each of us the power to control our minds so we can say, “I have learned to be content, yes, even in this. Because my hope is not in any earthly thing but in God.”

Fear stands between us and the work God has called us to do like an aggressive goalie. It leads us to focus on the gift that didn’t come from God instead of the ones that did. So step to the front, grab that rubber ball and get in the game. Most of the stuff we’re afraid of doesn’t even happen. Fear just keeps us from acting on God’s call on our lives.

Set it aside.

My prayer for each of us today is that we’ll remember the strength we have in Christ and to take hold of our Fear Combat Kit: power, love and a sound mind.

As I said: He’s got you covered.

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One response to “When You’re Afraid of Everything

  1. nosyjosie says:

    I picked up so much from this article. I really appreciate you sharing. That Bible verse is a very strong one and I felt power as I read it. Thank you!

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