Fear, when we give it permission, takes over our lives. It changes us into whatever it wants us to become. The benefits of this message are of great value to those living anxious, depressed, worried, and isolated because of emotional and psychological fear.
Five months is a long time to stay indoors, especially for someone who has no fear or phobia of going outside. During my 152-day stint inside, one obvious observation flaunted itself in my face day-after-day. Whether or not I embraced life or avoided it, life happens. I also learned that like time, life moves on with and without us.
March 9, 2019 …
My fifteen-year-old step climbing tool broke. I fell backward down three iron steps in front of my apartment building. The cut on my head oozed plenty of blood, but the paramedic assured me, “You don’t need stitches.” She was right. Aside from feeling warm blood drizzle cold down the back of my head, I felt no pain.
Two days later standing at the kitchen counter, I reached to the right of me with my left hand for a glass jar. I heard the sound of tearing paper over my left shoulder. Dull discomfort in one spot in my back captured my attention. Later, I realized that when I had reached for the jar, I severed a fractured rib-bone in my back. The discomfort was nothing like the excruciating labor pains I experienced when my daughters were born. By comparison, a broken rib is a cakewalk!
As time passed, my body healed (thank you, Jesus!). Unbeknownst to me (something I hadn’t realized until August 7th), I had also suffered a personal encounter with the spirit of fear. Instead of making a new step climbing device, I busied myself with writing, canning fruits, pickling veggies, probiotics, and making Jamaican Ginger Beer. As content as a pickle in vinegar, I chose not to go back outside. Completing old writing projects and starting new ones became my delight, in addition to earning my MFA degree online.
Grocery shopping made easy is Walmart.com and LowesFoodstogo.com delivery services. Were it not for a doctor’s appointment, car inspection, and the fact that I ran out of communion wine, I’m certain I wouldn’t have considered making another step climbing device this year. Had it not been for a concerned upstairs neighbor offering to start my car for me, I’m equally certain I wouldn’t have known my car battery had died until the day of inspection later this month. Thankfully, her husband volunteered to jumpstart my car. He said, “You need to get out and drive your car.” When he left, I asked myself, “Why haven’t you been going out?”
Logical, plausible, reasonable, and honest excuses traffic-jammed my brain. Then, the truth spoke up and blasted the congestion loose.
The reason I kept myself busy inside my apartment (after my wounds had healed, and after I made another step-climbing tool), was because I was subconsciously afraid of falling down the steps again. For five months, I had allowed fear to confine and immobilize me from living my life. Productive and progressive inside, but disconnected from life on the outside, was I. The upside to the whole ordeal is a deeper spiritual connection to my Savior.
The Bible teaches that fear is a spirit. In the Amplified Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote this in his second letter to Timothy: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Is the spirit of fear dictating your mind? Is it causing you to choose to practice good or bad habits? Do you believe positively or negatively about yourself?
Matthew 14:24-31 teaches a story about the disciples in a boat during a storm. Wind and choppy waves tossed the boat about. Out of nowhere, the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water toward them. Verses 26-31 of the King James Bible read like this:
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Remember why Peter denied Jesus? In both instances, and others as well, the spirit of fear had entered Peter’s heart and took control of his thoughts.
So, because God does not put the spirit of fear in us, from where does it come? The spirit of fear invades our minds in a variety of ways. It’s up to us to decide whether it stays or leaves.
One of life’s greatest gifts is the freedom to choose. People have the power to make sound decisions relative to how we think to manage ourselves. For example, ask yourself the following: what are personal habits affecting the way I live that generate negative or positive outcomes? Which one (or two or three) of my bad habits am I willing to replace with a good one? By replacing bad habits with good ones, you grow into the practice of making good choices and decisions in the absence of fear.
Another thing self-imposed confinement taught me is this: how we perceive ourselves is how we tend to act. Self-perception is also how we manage our choice of habits. People commonly practice bad habits out of fear. For example, millions of people diet for fear of losing control of their weight; fear of losing their significant other; fear of losing their jobs or losing their self and public images.
Many people allow the spirit of fear to dictate our responses to our environment. Some cower and run away while others stand their ground fearlessly. Many, like me, immerse ourselves in work, home, and projects to avoid the inevitable.
According to Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg, a specialist in depression management techniques, “fears block full participation in life.” In her article, Fear Keeps Depression in Place Part -1 she explains how and why fear is responsible for anxiety, worry, and depression.
Wednesday night, I decided to take back my power from the spirit of fear. Yesterday, I went out, got in my car, and drove to the car wash. To me, getting my car washed meant scrubbing away five months of dirty fear. I decided that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. I decided that I am strong in the Lord and the power of His might! And because the joy of the Lord is my strength, I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.