How to Talk Back to Fear: Tell it the Truth

October 7, 2013 | 21 comments

I got scared last week. Like, out-of-mind scared. Like my skin might crack enough for my soul to leak out.

It happens whenever I’m about to try something new, take a risk, appear before a live audience, or share something that could result in rejection. Write a blog post.

I get stage fright — even without the stage. Last week, when fear gripped my wrists, I was still in my nightgown, alone, replaying worst-case scenarios. I wanted to cover my ears, but it like felt like fear was holding my hands down. Fear whispered accusing questions in my ears:

Who are you to write blogs or a book? If you were really who you say you are, how could fear get a hold of you like this?  What kind of Christ follower are you anyway? Do you really believe your own PR?

I am a woman of contradictions–

I’m scared of failing,
and of succeeding.

I’m afraid of being invisible,
and yet I don’t want to be seen at all.

I want to hide,
but I want someone to find me under my rock and tell me it’s going to be OK.

I’m scared of being disappointed,
and of being a disappointment.

I’m afraid of admitting to you
that I’m afraid.

I’m scared of being disqualified, nullified, vilified, unidentified.

Dear Lord, I need sanctified.

In the dead-center of my fear, the culprit flashes like a warning beacon: Unbelief.

I’ve lived a lot of my life in the unpleasant state of disbelief. I have reasoned away people’s genuine praise of everything from my hair to my writing.

The first time a boy, with a shaky voice, told me that he really liked me — maybe even loved me — I laughed in his face. Even now, when the love of my life tells me I’m beautiful, I shake my head, like somewhere deep inside me, I think he’s saying the words only out of obligation.

I *did* believe what my journalism profs told me, when they demanded accuracy on our news stories: “If your mother says she loves you, double-check it.”

That’s good advice for a journalist, but a bad way to live life in the light of our callings. If we have to double-check everything, our default response becomes unbelief, breeding fear.

And fear is a bandit, stealing our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I’m calling fear out today for what it is: a liar.

Fear finds a home in what I don’t believe, so I am evicting fear, by telling it what I do believe. And what I know…

1 – I believe that no matter what lies before me, God is already there, and we won’t make me go alone.

2 – I believe that it’s okay to risk messing up, and the most beautiful mosaics come from the broken pieces of what might — at first — have looked like failure.

3 – I believe that the psalmist was right when he said that this is the day the Lord has made. Therefore, I will resist the urge to remake it in my own image.

4 – I believe these words in Proverbs 29:25: “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.”

5 – I believe my mama loves me. And I don’t have to double-check it.

6 – I believe that from life’s first cry to my final breath, that Jesus — not fear — really does command my destiny.

7 – I believe that it’s my choice whether I will be controlled by my worst fears,  or whether I will control them by speaking truth back to them.

8 – I believe that no matter what lies ahead of me, what befalls me, what tries to  haunt me, or what fear rises up within me, God has still come. And He still is, and He evermore shall be.

9 – I believe that bravery looks a lot like … believing. And I believe that there’s really no such thing as failure, because there’s nothing unredeem-able in the hands of Christ.

10 – And I believe, just now, that fear is loosening its grip, and my trembling hands are free to praise, and my trembling voice is free to confess, and my trembling life is steadied in the grip of an Almighty God who knows how the whole thing turns out.

Recommended Books on Fear:

“What Women Should Know about Facing Fear” by Christin Ditchfield
“What Women Fear” by Angie Smith
“What Are You Afraid Of? Facing Down Your Fears with Faith” by David Jeremiah

by | October 7, 2013 | 21 comments

21 Comments

  1. Plays With Purpose

    That’s right, Jennifer! You tell ’em!
    Hugs to you this fearless morning that has been ordained by God!
    No fear!
    Hugs,
    Kelly

    Reply
  2. Tammie Jones

    except for the part about being a journalist….I could have written these words. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Michelle

    This was just what I needed today. I have also been reading “Plan B” by Pete Wilson. So far it is a great read and echos what you are saying. I already know all of it after following The Lord for 30+ years but I needed the reminder today. I will pass it along on Tangible Strength. We are facing mountains on every side. Our only choice is to sit and wait on God. And not sit in fear. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Megan Grooters

    As I found myself in tears last night of the real world too close for comfort, this hits home real hard today. I’m scared of finding new friends and a new place to call “home.” But today, will rest assured that He is always my best friend and is with me wherever I go.
    Thanks for your words and encouragement. Love You!

    Reply
  5. Karrilee Aggett

    I love this… and you… and I wrote on fear this week as well – how God taught me early on of the power of SPEAKING out loud… yes – speaking to the lies and declaring Truth! There is just so much power in His Name! Sometimes it’s really just not enough to think it… we must put voice and determination behind it and speak it out!

    Oh – and this …because I LOVE that song too!
    http://youtu.be/jiIuNquNhcU

    Oh – and this… I can not WAIT to have your book… your lovely encouraging words in print and wrapped and bound!

    Reply
  6. Lorretta @Dancing On The Dash

    Hello…. this is me under that rock with you and telling us both it’s going to be ok. We are not qualified…thankfully He is. Of course….you are more “qualified” than most of us out here hammering pixel after pixel into something we hope will bring Him glory. I often feel like that kid coming home from camp with my popsicle stick trivet..setting it on the table next to a marble sculpture and thinking gosh…that’s crap. But he picks it up and loves it and me and you and gosh…you are a faithful steward of your “place”. It really is an altar. Bless you.

    Reply
    • Gary Ellis

      Woops, I just sent someone a reply rather than posting here. Duh. Anyhow, Jennifer, this is very good. People don’t want to live with fear, worry, anxiety….any of that stuff. But, they don’t know how to practically respond. And, you’ve helped with that here. I also use the tag line, for myself, “And that’s my final answer!”
      Btw…I see you a married to an Iowa farmer. I grew up in Des Moines, and spent many summers working on my cousins farms near Norwalk. I now pastor in Davenport.

      Reply
  7. Karin Peavy

    I can identify with what you said about fearing to write a book or a blogpost. I remember when I stepped out in faith to do the same. The devil came at me hard. “Who do you think YOU are?” Who is going to want to listen to YOU?” I had to answer those questions. I had to identify with who I am in Christ and tell the devil who I am. I had to embrace God’s call to teach His people via writing. I was shaking in my boots when I wrote my first article. That was several years ago and I am still writing today.

    Reply
  8. Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you for sharing your Top Ten Beliefs to Send Fear Packing. Numbers 2 & 8 particularly resonated with me. The mosaic image is a powerful one to illustrate God’s ability to make beauty out of brokenness. And “bravery looks a lot like believing?” That presents a new way to develop courage: Recite these ten beliefs with conviction until they’re part of who I am! Powerful writing, Jennifer!

    Reply
  9. Eileen

    So good, Jennifer. I can identify with so much of what you wrote. And, yes, fear is a liar. “I’m afraid of being invisible, and yet I don’t want to be seen at all.” How messed up is that?! Yet that’s one of my biggest fears too. Thank you for saying it so well.

    Reply
  10. lschontos

    I’m attempting to write on trust these days – my own journey to somehow find it. This speaks so much to me Jennifer – for when I try to manage life on my own, it is filled with fear. If, if, I fully trust in all He is – there is no longer room for that fear. It seems it is a life-long journey – this way to trust. But as the days slip by it gets a bit easier because He truly is all He has promised to be.
    Love you beautiful girl!

    Reply
  11. ~Brenda

    Amen and Amen! Lift those trembling hands, girl. Believe with all your heart! I am right there with ya’, fighting fear and disbelief, and though I don’t enjoy knowing someone else is going through this, I kinda like not being alone. 🙂

    Thanks for this.

    Reply
  12. Shereen Lynn

    Grateful for your words full of grace today … I started it reading this through tears and have come to the end realizing He found me under my rock, coaxed me out, brushed me off, and whispered an “it’s all right”. Thanks for sharing something so REAL.

    Reply
  13. Kim

    On days like this, I wish I didn’t relate to what you wrote. But, I do … BIG TIME! As always, you expressed these feelings so eloquently. Thanks for the reminder of the TRUTH in our lives that makes all the difference. Thank you, Jennifer.

    Reply
  14. Barb

    This is so amazing to read in this current season of my life!! What an encouragement to my weary heart!
    Thank you thank you thank you!!!

    Reply
  15. JennyB

    Thank you Jennifer for sharing this with us. As a person who regularly does battle with fear and anxiety, these words speak to my soul.

    Reply
  16. Katherine Pasour

    Jennifer, These words go right to the heart of an issue so many women face. We feel that we have to be all things to all people–and the result is that we live in constant fear of failure. Of course we will fail–because only Jesus our Lord and our Heavenly Father are perfect. We cannot meet the impossible goals we set for ourselves–so….we live with the fear of when that failure will come.
    Your message is beautiful–thanks so much for sharing with us–reminding us that with God on our side, we have no reason to fear. May God continue to bless your ministry.
    Katherine

    Reply
  17. Janice

    Amen! Thank you Jennifer. Your post reminds me of this inspiring passage written by Marianne Williamson:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Reply
  18. Rita Schau

    Once again, you reached right into my soul and pulled the feelings out and put them into words. Do you think it’s an Iowa farm girl thing?!? This fear we have even though we went to Sunday School and Church, got confirmed and learned scripture? I got to see Mama & Pa D this last week. You are right about her love for you. 🙂 You are both blessings. Thanks for the words of comfort. 🙂

    Reply
  19. Sandra Heska King

    It’s getting pretty crowded under this rock. I know these feelings. And I know the truth. And when we speak it, the lie loses power. I like living in the light better.

    Reply
  20. saleslady371

    Number 6 is my favorite. This is so good I may have to come back and read it again. Our family is facing a child custody court case next month. We know a little bit about fear and claiming God’s promises by faith.

    Reply

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