Confessions of a Recovering Fearaholic
I’m Sara and I’m a fearaholic. I’m addicted to fear; it consumes me. Chronic over thinkers often are. It causes me to be self-centered and mean. Christians are not supposed to fear because “perfect love drives out fear,” but realistically speaking it’s only natural.
Sometimes it’s “just anxiety” or “my OCD tendencies” or some other diagnosable ailment. “I really just can’t help it.” “All twenty-something’s struggle with this.” “Maybe I need to get on medication.” “I’m type A” so I’m just “being conscientious.”
Fear has become socially acceptable in our culture. It is the norm to stress or feel anxious about one thing or another. How did this happen when God instructs His people countless times not to fear?
In my opinion, it has happened for two main reasons. First, we think too highly of ourselves. We try to do it on our own. We read God’s command to “be strong and of good courage” (Josh 1:9) and start digging deep for whatever courage we can muster, when we should be fixing our eyes on Jesus because “HE is [our] everlasting strength” (Is. 26:4). Second, we don’t actually take Jesus at His word. When Jesus claims to be the annihilator of fear, we simply don’t believe Him. Of course we say we do, but our continued anxiety and overcautious living proves otherwise. Your lifestyle reveals what you truly believe about God.
So the questions remain:
- Can I really live as though Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30)?
- Do I dare believe He came to this earth so that His joy may be in me and that my joy might be full (Jn. 15:11)?
- Is it too bold to assume God really has plans for me that are beyond my wildest imagination (1 Cor. 2:9)?
- Can I really trust in the Lord with all my heart (Prov. 3:5-6)?
You’re the only one who can honestly answer these questions. If they make you uncomfortable with the level of trust they require, then I’m glad. I’m a big fan of healthy discomfort, and so is God. He didn’t create us for comfort; He created us for Him, and one of the worst things about our fear is how it limits our experience of Him.
If anything less than a resounding, confident “YES!” is your answer to the above questions then God has some work to do in your heart so please keep reading.
Back to the Basics
I recently attended one of Beth Moore’s Living Proof simulcast conference events. The conference theme song was No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser which I’ve been listening to on repeat ever since. The chorus repeats:
// I’m no longer a slave to fear / I am a child of God //
I wept openly as this simple truth warmed my heart. I had forgotten it was so simple. Somewhere along the path of my Christian life, I forgot what it means to be a child of God. Fear, in all its nasty forms of anxiety, insecurity and pride, has no power in the life of a daughter of the living God.
God’s enduring, fear-destroying love is not hidden or a sneak preview of what could be. His love is unrestrained and constantly in pursuit of us. My mile long list of excuses can no longer stand when I realize that the only thing keeping me from experiencing the deep, pure, soul-filling love of Jesus is me.
My foolish, prideful grip on my fear is keeping me from believing that my Savior wants to consume me with His love in the way my soul desperately longs for (Psalm 16:11, Isaiah 43:4). I cannot let go because I’m holding onto other things. I’m content to play with mud pies in the slums when a holiday on the beach has been offered to me (C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory).
It’s time to get serious. We all battle fear in some way or another. Our battle against fear is not something to be taken lightly. We must engage in the spiritual war going on around us. Our most vital piece of ammunition is the Word of God, against which the schemes of the devil cannot stand. In order to use the word in battle we must sharpen it and know how to wield it.
There are countless verses that fight against fear. Find one that specifically applies to you, write it on an index card, and read it until you know it inside out. Let the truth transform your heart and choke out the fear that has lived there far too long.
One of my own favorite fear-killing scriptures is Psalm 103:2-5:
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
These verses call God Forgiver, Healer, Redeemer, and Satisfier. As a child of God I should be living as one forgiven, healed, redeemed, and satisfied in Christ. That is who I am. This is my identity.
Some of my other favorite fear-fighters are:
- Psalms 18 and 27
- Isaiah 26:3, 30:15, 35:4
- Matthew 11:30
- Romans 8:31-39
- 1 John 4:19
Make your own “fear-fighters 2016” list. Your list could include favorite lyrics as well. When fear is trying to get a foot-hold, one of my favorite things to do is to belt out scripture-saturated, Christ-exalting songs at the top of my lungs.
Once we’ve sharpened our swords, we need to name our addictions specifically. If we use general terms for what we’re battling, the root causes will slip through the cracks and continue to haunt us.
So, let's get specific: I’m addicted to the fear of not getting enough “likes” on Instagram and Facebook. I’m addicted to feeling inadequate and unlovely in my own eyes and in the eyes of others. I’m addicted to worrying endlessly that I’m going to die alone.
Now it’s your turn. Call them out, and declare the powerful, perfect love of Jesus over them. Evil may not be afraid of you, but the name of Jesus will send them running for the hills.
Resolve and Let Go
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
We must now resolve to believe that in the vulnerable, open space we have created, God will show up. What if we dared to declare in the name of Jesus that fear cannot make us its slave any longer? What if we took God at His word that as we let go of our fears - the ones we found our identity in for so long - that we will welcome more of Him?
So kind and good is our Father. His very essence is perfect love. The almighty God has the power to calm the raging sea and He holds your heart in the palms of His hands. He is the God who pursues you with steadfast love and mercy all the days of your life (Psalm 23:6).
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? -Romans 8:32
Jesus died on the cross not only to provide us with forgiveness and freedom, but with His final breath He sealed the promise that we can trust our gracious Father. He never stops speaking softly to our hearts, full of mercy, whispering so tenderly in the midst of our fears: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).
So, with a Jesus like this, will you dare with me? Will you recite Psalm 27 and not stop until you have seen “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”? Will you declare the truths in Psalm 103 against every ounce of fear that holds you captive? Will you boldly approach the throne of our Savior of grace and find your rest there (Hebrews 4:16)?
There is hope to be found, my friend. Let us trust that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).