A few years ago I spent time with three of my family members from England. They came to the U.S. specifically to visit my mother, who is their aunt.
During their visit the stories that we shared brought true joy to my family and me. In fact, I hadn’t seen my mother so happy in many years.
Sharing stories. Hearing stories. And the constant smile on my mother’s face was a wonderful reward.
However, when my British family members first announced they were coming for a visit, I felt nervous. Anxious.
How would the visit work, given that my mother was confined to a wheelchair?
I was very busy with work and taking care of my mother. How would I be able to properly entertain them?
Would their visit be too much for me, given how introverted I am and prefer ‘visiting’ in small doses?
Would they regret their trip? Would they feel let down?
As it turns out, these fears were just that – fears.
Not their fears. Not my mother’s … Mine.
And sometimes fear has a way of crippling us and stops us from doing what is right and often necessary.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that after explaining to my family that it might be best they don’t come … that they came anyway.
I am immensely grateful for their determination and for ignoring my fears.
And I thank God for helping me to push past my fears.
In life sometimes fear is necessary. For instance, it can help us to stop doing something that is dangerous or something that is just plain stupid. But in reality, most fears are unnecessary, unfounded and in the end … simply hold us back.
And if experiencing fear is a natural human occurrence, then it’s up to us, with the help of God, to decipher when fear is stopping us from growing closer to Him and experiencing the happiness He wants to give us.
And then with the help of God we push through it.
Many of the fears we experience are simply unfounded. They can often come in the form of, “I am not good enough; I am not strong enough.”
When we let God help us to overcome these fears of failure and rejection, we almost always succeed. But what does ‘succeed’ mean then? It means you will have grown in your trust in God, in your courage and strength. It does not mean that you won’t have some scars and bruises along the way.
So, how do you do it? Face your fears and push through them?
There is no definitive guideline to overcoming fear but the following has worked for me:
The first step is to simply acknowledge your fear. When you realize you’re afraid of something, regardless of what it is, think about it, pray about it. Most of us simply try to ignore our fears, or avoid what causes them, so we can move about our lives without the interruption. But fears cannot just be ‘wished away’.
They only become worse.
Secondly, let yourself experience the fear. Realize you’re not the only one who has this fear, regardless of how small, large or rare the fear seems to be.
Personally, I have a fear of being around more than four or five people at one time. Most people would think that’s a silly kind of fear but for me it’s very real. So, whatever your fear is, you’re definitely not alone.
Third, pray to God for help to overcome your fear. This is the only way it will happen. The most important part of overcoming fear is that we need to rely on God and not ourselves. Obviously we are not strong enough to do it alone, or we wouldn’t be afraid in the first place, right?
Fourth, realize where the fear is. Most likely it’s in the future. In fact, fear is almost always an apprehension of an unpredictable future and a negative spin on what ‘could’ happen.
You’re trying to predict a future that you can’t possibly predict. Unless you’ve suddenly developed the skills of prophesy?
Learn to live in the present versus dwelling on what ‘might’ happen. Stop allowing yourself to even consider the future. The future will be there soon enough. Live in the moment. It’s much harder to fear the present.
And last but not least, fifth, begin your attempt of overcoming fear slowly but surely. Don’t run from fear – push through it.
Be grateful for every success, and learn from every failure.
So, what are you afraid of? What fears are controlling your behaviors, or stifling your happiness?
Perhaps it’s time to identify them, admit to them, and to start facing your fears today head on.
Because the only way out is through.