Fear – seldom do we share with others the things that haunt us, terrify us, or that stir up feelings of anxiousness and jitters. Sometimes we’re ashamed of what we fear because it seems silly or strange. Sometimes we’re scared that if we voice our fears somehow it will make them more real or beckon what we fear to come and torment us. And sometimes our fears stem from our pasts and to allow those memories to resurface is just too painful. For whatever reason, we like to keep our phobias secret; known only to ourselves and under lock and key. I’ve been thinking about fear a lot lately because it’s something that has always crippled me. Fear, I think, is my greatest weakness and the list of things that scare me is pathetically long. So I began looking up some quotes on fear.
When I need inspiration or encouragement I like to dig into a few things but I especially like to study these two: 1) literature and 2) my bible. Between the greatest minds of the past and present and the living word of my God I always find the words I need to hear. Granted, sometimes it takes a few hours but I enjoy the time I spend in study and meditation. And I am especially blessed in the personal time that God and I spend together, though admittedly it isn’t half as frequent as it should be – the product of another weakness of mine; perhaps one I’ll explore on a later date, but for now back to fear. As I explored my fears, their depths and causes, and considered the advice of many voices; I came to the conclusion that the first step to conquering our fears is owning them. Just as in cases of addiction and certain disorders, embracing your issues as your own and admitting they exist is the first step towards positive change. That’s precisely what I want to do today. I want to share with you, without shame or regret, my top 10 fears – some are big and some are small, but they’re mine and have played roles in my life regardless of their ‘potency’. You may find some of my fears are similar to yours, you may find some of them comical, and you may find some of them strange – but my hope is that my sharing may spark some inspiration within, that you may too begin to confront some of your own monsters and battle them till they are conquered. With each fear I address I have included some quotes that I came across in my research and I will conclude each portion with a bible verse that has been a beacon of hope to me in some of my life’s most trying moments.
1.) “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis, “Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.” – Jim Morrison
My Fear: Allowing myself to feel negative emotions, for fear that it will send me on a downward spiral. There is darkness inside me and I think it’s always been there. In that darkness is profound sadness that I cannot explain. I have lived through times where I allowed that darkness to swallow me up whole. I let it cover me and suffocate me and create a barrier that would separate me from the people I love and the things I love. I allowed it to numb me so that my light had gone out and I felt as though I was hardly living. I truly felt like I was wandering through each day as an empty shell. Thankfully, God has always broken through the void and led me out to to the light. However, any time that I feel sad or stressed I am horrified that it may be the beginning of another journey down that road, a road I hope, that has seen the last of me.
“Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
2.) “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson, “We’re taught to be ashamed of confusion, anger, fear, and sadness, and to me they’re of equal value to happiness, excitement and inspiration.” – Alanis Morissette
My Fear: Letting people down. I am always terrified that I will offend someone or won’t manage to please someone. I believe that God has given me the gift of service and nurturing – my heart has a passion for caring for people in my life and giving aid to those who need it. This is the reason I have always loved the jobs I have had where I get to be the gopher. I enjoy, so much, being a part of a team and being a component of the glue that holds that team together. However, being a perfectionist I aim for goals I know to be unattainable. And being sensitive I always assume that I am the cause of whatever problems, common or uncommon, may arise – regardless of where or when or how possible it is that I could be an instigator in the situation. The result of these things combined is that I have become a push-over. I can’t say no to anyone! Today a co-worker asked me if I was going to finish my leftovers from lunch and when I instinctively said “oh yeah!” I was immediately stung with a feeling of terrible guilt! A mental tug-of-war followed after which I nearly offered her my food, despite the fact that my stomach was growling! Far too often do I let my fear of disappointing people steal my joy. Joy which is mine in the name of Jesus!
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9
3.) “Faith activates God – Fear activates the enemy.” – Joel Osteen, “And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us.” – Ian Rush
My Fear: Satan. That’s right. I am terrified of Satan. And any supernatural/spiritual phenomenon really! Since I was a child I have been haunted by horrific nightmares which have sometimes been accompanied by voices after I awake or visions of shadows coming alive in my dark bedroom or even very real visions in broad daylight. I have had countless nightmares where Satan has been haunting me and stalking me and I wake up in the middle of sending the evil away in Jesus name and I can’t finish the sentence! The cat always catches my tongue and I lay there sweating and shaking and crying, praying for the dawn to come soon. There have been times where I have woken up and heard the voice from my dream still taunting me and sometimes I have felt things. Whether it be an icy cold pain running down my leg or the feeling of breath on my neck. I know full well that my imagination is considerably over-active and that my mind loves to play tricks on me. BUT – sometimes, sometimes I know it’s more than that. There’s this feeling I get that I can’t put into words, but when I feel it – I know. I’m sitting here typing this and I have the jitters! I used to watch scary movies with friends – something any teenager or college student loves to do. It’s a great excuse to snuggle up with that cute boy (or girl) beside you, right? WRONG! If you can handle it – enjoy. I am still haunted by scary movies I have seen literally YEARS ago. I have had to walk out of parties to hide the tears inflicted by how terrified the content has made me. Though I know I am free from evil and the powers of this world, I fear. Call me a ‘Doubting Thomas’ but I just can’t shake this overwhelming fear I have of the forces of evil. One day I hope to doubt no more and remain strong and courageous in the face of the demons that haunt me, but until that day I remain a scaredy-cat.
“I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
4.) “Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger
My Fear: Mirrors. I can remember the first time I thought I was fat. I was 8 years old and in the third grade. I was wearing leggings and a sweater, as was the popular fashion trend of the time, and it was the end of the school day – back then we began our day with ‘O Canada’, followed by the ‘Lords Prayer’ and ended the day with ‘God Save the Queen.’ As we were singing I looked down at my feet and I remember oh so clearly that I was suddenly struck with this feeling of shame by what I considered to be my Buddha belly. I glanced at a few girls in my class and saw that they were much thinner than I was – or so I thought. Since then food has been my mortal enemy. I love food. I love food SO much. And not just healthy food, I love junk food too. A LOT! And I like LOTS of food. I eat seconds and sometimes I’ll eat thirds. I’ll have dessert and I’ll enjoy a late night snack if I so desire. However, my bad habits (and my DNA) have made my weight a life-long issue. It constantly fluctuates and I constantly feel bad about myself. I compare myself to others and to the ideals society upholds and I realize – I never measure up. There are days where I think to myself, “I’m doomed to be the chunky girl for the rest of my life. Kinda cute, and kinda funny, and kinda okay to hang around but in pictures I’ll be the fat one.” My low self-esteem has often put me in bad moods that have resulted in arguments which never should have happened, ruined moments that I have should have been enjoying, and prevented me from joining in on a lot of activities because I was worried about how I would look as I sat or stood or ran or jumped or laughed or talked or even breathed. I hope that one day I will begin healthier eating habits and an exercising routine, and be able to reach and manage a healthy weight – but until then I need to constantly remind myself that others don’t see me as ‘the fat girl’ and even if they did they wouldn’t care. If they know me and care about me, they love me for who I am – no matter how many pounds I weigh. I should love myself too – just as I am. Granted, knowing these things and believing them in your heart are two very different things. I continue to struggle with my self-esteem but I think I am making improvements – slowly but surely. I don’t want to live my life paralyzed by the fear of seeing myself or being seen by others, because let’s be honest – that’s no life at all.
“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8
5.) “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, “I think what weakens people most is the fear of wasting their strength.” – Etty Hillesum
My Fear: SNAKES! I can’t even handle looking at a picture of one. I will immediately look away or cover my eyes. People who know I have this fear will laugh at me as I curl in a ball and cover my eyes but they also let me know when the image is gone from the TV screen or the picture is gone from the PowerPoint or whatever the case may be. Even the word makes me cringe. Ironically I have never looked at one ‘in the flesh’ – not that they really have any – YUCK! I have been past a couple at the Zoo and at an Aquarium but I literally RAN past so I wouldn’t have to look at them. Even knowing that I’m in the same building as one gives me the creepie-crawlies. (I just barely put my feet up on the couch as I began sharing this fear – because you can’t be too careful!)
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
6.) “In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
My Fear: Spiders. I thought, while we were on the topic of creepie-crawlies I would get this one out of the way. When I was younger I made a habit of vacuuming in high heels – just in case there was a spider hiding in a dusty corner somewhere. I quickly discovered the impracticality of this habit as my high heels grew taller as I grew older, and I now wear shoes or boots when I vacuum. Again, I can’t look at a picture or a video of one without cringing, lifting my feet up off of the ground, and shutting my eyes tightly. My obsession with Harry Potter makes dealing with these past two fears rather difficult but I have somehow learned to, for the most part, conquer these fears while enjoying my HP. Though I confess, there are times when Nagini slithers across the screen or Aragog gets a close-up that I find myself looking away until the moment passes.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,. for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
7.) “Courage is resitance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.” – Mark Twain, “I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
My Fear: My house burning down. I don’t know why this is a fear of mine because I have never experienced something like that. Nonetheless, there is a nagging fear in the back of my mind that is ever so worried that all my dearest possessions will be lost forever. In the back of my mind, every time I hear a fire engines siren go off I panic for a moment, thinking, “My house! My stuff! My wedding dress, my piano, our wedding album, our movies, our clothes, I can’t replace all of that!”. I try to remind myself that one day all of those things will be gone anyway and that I can’t take any of it with me to heaven, but that doesn’t change that at the present time they are still treasured items to me and at the present time irreplaceable.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
8.) “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
My Fear: Living an inadequate life. Though I know salvation is mine by the grace and mercy of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I often doubt that this is possible. I feel as though I’m not good enough, not worthy enough, and not deserving enough. I fear that I have not and nor can I ever do enough in this lifetime to be good enough to gain entry through heavens gates. I fear that when I am gone I will have left nothing behind of substance. I fear that I will go through this life never fulfilling my purpose or truly putting good into this world. Don’t get me wrong, not every day is like this and I do not feel like this all the time. However, there are certainly very real moments and phases where I doubt, though I know I shouldn’t and needn’t. Again, something to continue working on and praying about.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
9.) “Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.” – Charles Stanley
My Fear: Clowns. I am horrified of clowns. I see them and my heart pounds, the blood rushes to my head, my stomach drops to my knees, and I begin sweating and shaking. There’s nothing I can even put my finger on that I dislike about them so much. Maybe it’s the idea of not knowing what their face looks like underneath all that make-up. Maybe it’s an experience or nightmare I had as a child that has stuck with me in my subconscious and is triggered every time I see a clown. Honestly, I don’t have a clue. Regardless, I can’t stand them. If I find myself near one I will be doing everything I can to avoid eye contact, the decreasing of the space between us, and any contact whatsoever. Generally I just run in the opposite direction. This also holds true for mascots. I think they kind of go in the same category, so I’m going to lump clowns and mascots in as one. My father-in-law often teases me that I’ll never be able to go to Disneyland because of this fear. My argument is always, “But they’re not mascots. Mickey Mouse isn’t a guy in a costume, he’s Mickey Mouse! How can I be scared of Mickey Mouse?” I know there’s no merit to it, but I’m sticking with my argument because I would LOOOOVE to go to Disney!
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” - Psalm 118:6
10.) “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali
My Fear: Last but not least, I fear losing those I love and hold dear. When my brothers goes back to University after a weekend at home, or my sister goes on a school trip, or my other sister and her little boy take a trip into the city, or my parents/parents-in-law go somewhere for a weekend, or my husband goes across town to work – I have a constant worry that they will not come back. There are some days where I get this terrible feeling of panic; you know, that feeling when you’re sure something awful has just happened and you just don’t know what yet? There are some days where I get that feeling as I hear the car pull off of the driveway or I get a text that a person is just hitting the highway. Sometimes I get these vivid dreams that someone I love has died and I wake up and feel as though I need to see that they are alive and well to believe that they are exactly that – alive and well. I know that we all die at some point in time. And I know that we don’t all get to live for 80 or 90 years. Does that stop me from hoping that those I love WILL live to a ripe old age? Absolutely not. I always preferred to live on the side of the blind and naive rather than to face that fear of death and loss every moment or every day. Do I need to learn to accept death and not to fear it? Absolutely. I would rather live in the truth than anything else. Is it scary? Absolutely. But I hope to overcome it and live in faith and hope instead, and I hope to reach that point someday soon. Although, as my husband and I watch our family grow with children and grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren, the odds of my fear being diminished grow smaller. However, I believe that through God all things are possible and that I can live freely, knowing that I will one day see those I love again – in paradise.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7
So now you and I both know me a little bit better. It’s funny how we know a lot about ourselves but there are many things that we choose to ignore and after time, find that we forget. Fear is something we don’t like to think about. Just like weakness. In sharing my fears, I already feel a little bit stronger; knowing I have identified them and owned them and can now begin to confront them and one day move to conquer. I thank God for being my strength when I am weak and giving me perseverance to face great tests and trials. And I praise God for allowing me to suffer in this life and allowing me to know pain and sadness, because it is through those times that I am reminded of Gods goodness and of my deliverance through Jesus. I praise God for using the tragedies of this life and turning them into tools to shape me into the woman he designed me to be. And I pray that in all circumstances I will listen to the voice of truth, and not the voice of my fear – and that is my prayer for you also.
I have a fear that I didn’t mention – an important one. I’m scared of talking about God. I’m scared I’ll say something that sounds stupid or offends someone or isn’t correct because I didn’t do enough research. I’m scared that it might make me seem uncool or prude. My blog is part of my movement to conquer that fear. I love the Lord, my God, and I want to follow his purpose for me better every day. I want to reach the end of my days and stand before a proud father (fear of letting others down? ). So whether you like what I say or not, I will continue to put my thoughts into words and share them with you, because I want to live – without fear and doubt and worry determining every move I make. I want to TRULY live.
Thanks for joining me on my journey and for your comments and encouragements. I want you to know – whoever you are – you have blessed me by reading my blog, even if you haven’t left a comment! Just knowing that my writing is out there is enough and I hope you continue following me as I continue to write. Again, thank you ever so much. Blessings.