I was 10 years old when we moved to “the farm.” All eight of us (Dad and Mom and 6 kids) lived in a two bedroom home with two additional bedrooms in the upstairs attic space. We had no running water, a coal stove to heat the entire house, and no running water for the indoor toilet, necessitating–the outhouse! And it is there that my very real fear of spiders began after listening to one of my male cousins tell me that when I used the outhouse a spider was going to come and bite me on the butt. I know that my fear of spiders is hugely unrealistic, but in my mind a totally improbable fear became rooted. Even today I hate spiders!
The fact of the matter is, most of us have fears in our lives. They come from various arenas and are frequently unrealistic, but they are indeed present. Many of our fears are rooted in past experiences, some recognizable and some not. Fear is a negative emotional state that is triggered by something that has the potential to cause harm. The threat may not actually be there, but it is anticipated. And our fears can become paralyzing. They can prevent us from living life to the fullest.
Dax Moy, a UK lifestyle coach defines fear as this: F.E.A.R.– Forever Expecting Awful Results.
I have been thinking about fear and faith a lot lately and have realized that I frequently let my fears keep me from living an abundant, faith-filled life. Here are some of my biggest fears that hold me back from a fulfilling, joy-filled life.
Fear of Failure – So many people I know, myself included, have dreams and visions of what they would like to do with their life. But many of these dreams never come to fruition because they are afraid of failure. I create all of the scenarios in my mind of the obstacles I have to overcome and what will happen if I cannot complete my task, and I get discouraged and quit. The fact of the matter is, so what if we fail? At least we tried. And what happens if we actually succeed? Letting our fear of failure keep us from pursuing our dreams is a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Many successful people have a history of failures behind them.
Fear of Change and the Unknown – I know so many people who want to know exactly where their life is headed. They set their plans and forge ahead toward their ultimate goal. But there are so many more of us who fear the unknown. Quite frankly, in many ways I am glad I cannot see into the future. The future I envisioned wasn’t exactly the future I got, but God has been with me every step of the way. And I suspect that God has more surprises in store for me.
We tend to let the fear of stepping out of our comfort zone keep us from some of the best things that could ever happen to us. Change is not necessarily good or bad, it is just change. Our attitude toward change many times is defined by our fear. So maybe it is time to embrace change and not let ourselves become crippled by fear of the unknown.
Fear of Rejection – On a personal level, I think my entire life has been spent seeking the approval of others. The fear of rejection is a huge issue for me and in some cases it has paralyzed me from taking action on making changes in my life. I am sure that the root of this issue lies somewhere in my past, but I cannot let it define my fear. Sometimes the fear of rejection keeps me from stating my true feelings on an issue. Sometimes the fear of rejection keeps me from building intimate relationships. Getting over the fear of rejection requires vulnerability on my part and it is a risk in my mind. When we let the fear of rejection define us, we lose the opportunity to grow and mature as individuals.
For me life has been an ongoing journey of learning to face my fears and rest in God. Fear must certainly be a common trait of many, because there are a multitude of Scriptures that talk about fear. In John 14:27 Jesus recognized our need to be free of fear and have peace in our lives when he said, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” (GNT) What if we cling to his promises and recognize that leaving fear behind us brings us peace?
Joshua 1:0, Psalm 34:4, Psalm 94:19, 2 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 5:3-4, Isaiah 41:10, 1 John 4:18