Be less fearful. Or rather, should I say “be fearless”?
I suffer from an inordinate amount of fright. I had a mental health examination the other day and the evaluator asked me about all my fears. I listed a few of them as follows:
- Dark, closed spaces
- Tight spaces (a closed water slide would scare me)
- Bodies of water (i.e. swimming, boating, capsizing)
- Excessive crowding (more than 10 people each within a foot of my body)
- Bugs bigger than a speck of dust
- Newborns/Infants (they’re simply too fragile for me to hold)
- Getting fired
- Not doing my job correctly
- Not knowing what I’m doing – ever
- Having too much confidence (paradoxically, I never have enough)
- Other people (their emotions: anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.)
And that’s just a short list, I’m sure.
Worry is the same thing as fear; both cause anxiety over that which I have no control over. So how am I to conquer fear? I have no choice but to trust – have faith – in God.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Paul in Philippians 4:6-7
This is easier said than done. The verse essentially tells me not to worry about anything but to submit my requests to God with praise. Replacing worry with prayer and praise will give me “the peace of God” — a sense of calm in my life, knowing that things are in control. This “peace” cannot be understood logically or practically — it “surpasses all understanding” — BUT it will protect my heart (emotions) and mind (keeps me from going crazy) through the atoning work that Christ did on the cross.
Fear can also be conquered with love.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” – I John 4:18
God’s love can help me conquer fear. Trusting that He has my best interests at heart will help me to face things that I wouldn’t want to face alone.
But my faith (does it even exist?) wavers back and forth during dark times and I become the “agnostic” Christian: “Yeah, God, I know you exist but I can’t see you, hear you or feel you so you probably don’t exist.” It’s the greatest spiritual paradox. Ed Welch in Depression: A Stubborn Darkness — Light for the Path calls this phenomenon the “atheistic believer.”
It’s difficult to be fearless when you’re too afraid to trust and too scared to love. No easy solutions, but many hard questions.