1/27 What is your natural response when fear arises in you?
Fear seems to be something that I deal with daily but it doesn’t get a whole lot of airtime in my conversations or conscious thought. It looms around, makes me do certain things and refrain from other things. It causes physical reactions and makes the world around me feel very black and white when there’s actually more flexibility, color and opportunity than fear would let on.
Fear dictates which strangers I interact with and the depth of connection with loved ones. Fear plays less of a part in my life when it comes to sharks and spiders and more of a part when it comes to control and uncertainty. When we ask people about what they fear, usually we hear responses about heights, roller coasters, snakes and confined spaces. Less often do we disclose what might actually be keeping us up at night: loneliness, an unknown future, lack of security, or feeling emotionally trapped.
So what is our go-to, natural response when fear arises in us? Forever, mine was hide, ignore, overcompensate and repeat. I thought naming and dealing with fear would make them bigger, more powerful and even more debilitating in my life. But then I shared a moment with some of my most treasured women and everything seemed to shift.
When I was pregnant with Ryen the very first IF Gathering happened in Austin, TX. It seemed to attract women who wanted a little more of God in their everyday lives. They wanted to take him at his word and believe him for big things. This had my heart written all over it. The leaders behind this gathering decided to simulcast the teaching and worship all over the world to encourage women to gather together (right where they were) to learn and grow.
Since I was still pretty new to Santa Barbara, I decided to reach out to my people scattered across the country whom I knew sang a similar heart song and wouldn’t mind a little beach time in February. Soon enough, friends from Florida, Washington, Arizona, Tennessee, and California descended upon the Central Coast. We each were eager to grow but had no idea what to expect.
We sat around the large, outside table at Jeanine’s for breakfast- eating our weight in croissants and breakfast potatoes. We journaled and walked the beach at Butterfly, we cooked dinner together, lingered at the kitchen table and fast-forwarded the parts of the conference that seemed too awkward to engage with through a screen.
But the very first night, we pushed through the awkwardness and confessed to each other. We confessed sin, pride, and a lot (a lot) of fear. In a small, intimate circle on my living room floor women whom I knew well but who didn’t quite know each other opened their lives, exposed their heart wounds and cried tears that seemed to hurt streaming down because of how long they’d stayed captive to the hidden parts of their souls.
Then it was my turn. For the record, I can ask about people’s fears, listen with understanding nods until the cows come home, and give hugs that say ‘I’m here and I get it’ without ever having to say anything. But talking about my own stuff? My own sin? My own fears? Yeah. I suck at that. But borrowing the bravery from my very best girlfriends in the world, I finally blurted out, "I believe down to my core that I’m not going to be a very good mother. I am so afraid I’m not cut out for this and will mess this little one up beyond repair." The silence that most likely lasted for about 1.37 seconds felt like an eternity of quiet, vulnerable nakedness. But then I was embraced with the most reassuring words from the mouths of women I cared for so deeply.
Later, while I ran out to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things and (let’s be real) have some alone time in my car, my friends set everything up for a surprise baby shower. I walked in, greeted by banners, surprises, and presents. They guided me over to the couch and then took their seats around me again in a circle. Katie told me that even before I decided to share my fear, they had all come prepared to share why they thought I was going to make an amazing mother.
Can I tell you something? I can still remember exactly where each girl was sitting and the words that each of them spoke. Without written vows, I wouldn’t be able to remember what Austin promised to me at our wedding, I don’t remember what my parents said when I went off to college, I don’t remember the first words I spoke to Ry when she was born, but I remember- almost verbatim- the encouragement these friends spoke into me that night.
I believe it’s because fear often breathes and festers in a pool of lies. Non-truths allow fear to grow and become overpowering. And that night, I let trustworthy people in to the lie that had festered in my soul and they spoke poignant, perfect words of truth to dispel and kill that fear (that lie) for good. Through sob-like, liberating tears, I listened and took in each word. Like fresh breath. Like medicine.
I learned something life-changing that night. How to change my natural response when fear arises in me. I used to hide, ignore and overcompensate. But now, when fear arises, I search high and low for the lie that has seeped in. There’s almost always one: a hidden fabrication that has stirred and gained ground in my heart to the point where my thoughts and actions have been altered- and not in the right direction. Once it’s identified. I kill it with truth. I go first to God’s word (the source of all truth) and then to the people who know Jesus and know me best. I ask for their words, their truths, their perspective. This is humbling and hard. But when I think of the freedom I gained in one night three years ago- it’s worth it.
How can you change how you respond to fear today? This week? This year? Knowing truth sets us free. Ask your people how they deal with fear today, or write your response below. Truth is powerful. Let's know it, claim it and speak it over the lives of the ones we love today.