Thanks for tuning in for the today's installment of the Sunday Series, Whole-Hearted.
I had originally written up a blog on a different topic, but it seriously did NOT feel right! I didn't know what to do until today in Church we were singing out the line, "I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God." Those words really struck me, so I decided to pitch my original idea and write a BRAND new blog post!
Today, we're going to do a deep dive into fear.
And to start off, as with all my other blogs, I want to lay the groundwork for how this topic has affected my life. I'm here to bare it all for you Dear Reader, in the hopes that you can be touched by these words. And if this blog post doesn't speak to you, as usual, I recommend that you keep it in mind for someone else in your life!
Let's Dive In
So what am I talking about? What does being a slave to fear look like?
Well the idea of being a slave to ANYTHING is that we are owned: in this case, we are owned by fear.
Fear dictates what we say, what we do, and how we feel.
Last week we talked about perfectionism and how I feared what other people thought of me. I feared being hurt by other people, and I feared making a fool of myself. I was a SLAVE to fear.
Throughout my life I have feared failure, other people, failing my family, intimacy, making a fool of myself, and in general, letting other people get to know the real me. I have let it dictate my decisions, my feelings, and my life.
Guys it was SO BAD for awhile!
I wouldn't play new board or card games with others out of fear of looking silly. I was deathly shy as a kid whenever I met new people because I was afraid they wouldn't like me. In general, I would never put myself out for scrutiny in the public eye! Why do you think it took me 11 years to FINALLY start the blog I've been dreaming about since I was 12?
And am I fully recovered? Kind of. I think that I've graduated from slave status to part-time servant. I am a part-time servant to fear LOL!
Why is it Bad?
So why is being a slave to fear a bad thing?
Isn't it nice to be safe and comfortable? Isn't it nice to feel secure in our comfort zone?
Fear kind of makes us feel good right? Sure! But it is just a temporary high.
Fear may temporarily keep you from making a fool of yourself, but in the long run, it will stop you from TRYING. It may keep you from embarrassment for today, but tomorrow you will find yourself locked in the prison that is your comfort zone.
Fear feeds a HOST of problems: the perfectionism we talked about last week? Fed by FEAR! What feeds insecurity? FEAR! What feeds worry? FEAR! What feeds my anxious soul? FEAR!
So Why Do We Serve Fear?
Good question. Why do we allow fear to run our lives? If it's so bad, wouldn't we just get rid of it?
I think the bigger question here is WHERE do these fears come from? Why are we so afraid of looking silly? Why are we afraid of other people? Why are we afraid of failure?
I know the answer for me: bullying!
And for awhile, this seemed like a completely legitimate reason to be afraid of other people. Likewise, many of us live in fear, for very LEGITIMATE reasons! We become afraid after bullying, abuse, conflict, neglect, abandonment, and so much more.
We internalize the cruelty of others and believe that life is always going to be scary and we are never going to be safe unless we stay away from other people, from risk, or from our dreams.
But today I want to encourage you to release your fear. Release the reasons you are afraid and embrace life.
People are gonna people. And by that I mean, people are gonna "BE HORRIBLE." I'm not kidding! Quite often, people ARE horrible! They just are. But we can't let that stop us from trying. We can't take the joy and courage out of life just because there are going to be bullies in our path.
How Do You Escape Bondage to Fear?
Escaping fear is NOT easy, and it's NOT FUN.
It's a lot of trying new things while your face turns an unpleasant shade of pomegranate. It's putting yourself into a VULNERABLE situation.
Overcoming fear happens through a ton if tiny baby steps: not huge life changes. It doesn't always look like "having the courage to finally go to the college of your dreams!" or "having the courage to quit your job and go to Asia!"
No. Overcoming fear is often the result of teeny tiny baby steps that result in a HUGE perspective and attitude change in your life.
Example? Today I played tambourine in front of the church congregation for the FIRST time ever. Doesn't sound like a big deal to most people, but to this part-time servant of fear, IT WAS A HUGE DEAL.
During rehearsal this week, our drummer handed me a tambourine to play for a song, and I IMMEDIATELY began feeling insecure, awkward, and downright afraid! I was afraid of looking silly, of messing up the song, and basically, NOT BEING PERFECT!
But guys, I FORCED myself to do it. I told myself that I needed to just be okay with looking silly.
To escape our bondage to fear, we need to be okay with looking silly. We need to be okay with failing, and we need to accept that SOME people are mean.
Life can be harsh, but I want you to leave with the following encouragement:
Final Words My Dear Reader
Today I want you to be reminded of WHO YOU ARE. You are no longer a slave to fear, YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD!
This is the ONLY thing that will help you. No amount of pep talking will ever make you unafraid: only a firm foundation in your identity in Christ will help you escape fear.
Don't be like me and wait over 10 years to begin your dream. Don't be afraid to follow where God is leading you just because there might be obstacles, strife, or rejection. You will experience those things regardless of how hard you try to avoid them!
I tried my entire LIFE ( albeit only 23 years but still) to avoid conflict, rejection, failure, pain, and relational misery. And for all that effort? I still faced bullies, I still faced rejection, and I still faced failure!
These things are going to happen no matter what. Don't go out of your way to avoid them! Don't stop being yourself just to avoid failure.
So start small today: say yes to the card game with friends. Say yes to the tambourine. Wear that funky outfit. And most of all?
Do not let fear dictate your life.