Since I started this blog by confessing the fear and insecurity I felt (uh…feel) about actually starting this blog it seems appropriate to begin talking about what to do with fear.
A little background information for you – At my church I serve as the volunteer Prayer Team leader. The Prayer Team is an amazing group of people who dedicate time every week to pray over the many prayer requests that are submitted each Sunday, and a sub-group of the team makes themselves available to pray during the worship services with anyone who wants prayer in person. For readers who aren’t familiar with prayer or church; the purpose of prayer is to connect to God for peace, hope, direction, and healing among other things. Praying with someone else also connects us to each other for emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical support for our felt needs.
This Summer I sent a series of emails aimed at encouraging people to submit requests and come for prayer during services by exploring what motivates us to pray and what creates road-blocks to connecting with God through prayer. Not surprisingly, Fear is one of the barriers to connecting with God just as it is a barrier to connecting with other humans. This post is adapted from one of those emails.
In late July my oldest son, Dorian, had his first belt test for Taekwondo. In case you don’t know (because I didn’t know anything about martial arts except “wax on, wax off” until after Dorian started this adventure) Taekwondo is similar to Karate, but not Karate. There are levels of skill that are marked by different color belts. To move up to the next color each student has to pass a test of their skills. As Dorian’s first belt test, to move from white belt to orange belt, got closer and closer he felt more and more nervous.
“What if I’m not good enough?”
“What if the other kids laugh at me?”
“Can I just stay a white belt? Do I have to take the test?”
His questions reminded me of countless times I had asked the same ones under different circumstances. Usually if I voiced them I was told, “Oh, don’t be afraid. You’ll be fine! There’s no reason to be nervous.”
But I still felt scared. Added to my fear was a deep sense of weakness and shame because apparently I was supposed to be able to stop feeling afraid, but I couldn’t.
So I didn’t say any of those things to Dorian.
Instead I told him, “You’re very nervous, this is your fist test and you don’t know what it will be like or what to expect. That’s normal. I have a question for you though – do our feelings get to tell us what to do?”
“That’s right. You can be afraid and take the belt test at the same time.”
I blew his 7 year-old mind.
And simultaneously convicted myself.
Jesus himself tells us, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
That sounds like a tall order.
How do we “not be afraid”?
I’m convinced that, many times, we have to show our feelings the truth through our actions. We can be scared and do the scary thing at the same time.
“We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us.” (1 John 4:18 TLB)
We say we believe that God loves us unconditionally, but how can we expect our emotions to match that truth when we let fear choose our actions?
“What if I’m not good enough?”
“What if someone thinks less of me?”
“Do I really have to do this? Can’t I just stay where I am?”
None of those worries stands a chance against action in line with the truth.
What causes you fear which prevents you from connecting with God and others?
What does it look like for you to be scared and do the scary thing at the same time?
I would love to support you as you do your scary thing, so let me know what you’re up to in the comments!
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