Fear is a terrible thing. It consumes us. It saps the life from us just like a parasite saps us of energy. When we’re afraid, everything seems harder. It makes praying harder. It makes taking a risk on a new job or relationship nearly impossible. Fear drives us inward. We only think about ourselves when we’re afraid, and it becomes difficult to love those around us. When we are really consumed by fear, it’s hard to even listen to a friend in a conversation because we are so consumed with ourselves.
But this is not the way it’s supposed to be. The command not to fear shows up all over scripture:
- “Do not fear” shows up 37 times
- “Do no be afraid” shows up 33 times
- “Fear not” shows up 33 times
- The word “Fear” shows up 352 times
- The word “Afraid” shows up 167 times
The subject of fear shows up at least 519 times in Scripture! Clearly we are a terrified species. We are afraid of not having enough stuff. We are afraid of not being loved. We are afraid of being alone. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. We are plagued by fear.
Whatever faculty in our brains produces the fear emotion seems to be 10 sizes too big in me. If we as humans are generally a fearful people, then I’m exceptionally good at being afraid. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid that I’ll amount to nothing. I’m afraid that I’ll step out and take a risk for God only to fall flat on my face. How embarrassing that would be!
I don’t want to be controlled by my fear. I don’t want to make decisions that are driven by my fear. But just wanting fear to go away doesn’t actually make it go away. I have to be honest about who I am. So, I engage in practices that help me minimize the power of fear in my life. Here are a few:
- Prayer: God says that we can cast our anxieties on him. I do. When I’m worrying, I pray with my imagination. I imagine picking up the heavy burdens that are my fears and heaving them upward onto the shoulders of Jesus. I visualize myself literally casting my bundle of anxieties onto him. This helps a lot.
- Liturgy: In a previous post, I mentioned the benefit of praying the Divine Hours. This helps me stay connected to God, which helps me fight against fear.
- Mentors: I meet or talk on the phone with a few people who know me well and with whom I feel safe sharing some of the scary stuff in my life. When I share honestly what is going on in my life, and then they respond with love and encouragement, my fear melts away.
Theses are three of the more effective ways that I fight fear. If you feel God is moving you in a direction that is scary, I encourage you to try one of these practices or make a new one up that will help you fight fear.