Ever wanted to punch fear in the face? Tell your fears to take a hike? I sure have. My life has been riddled with fear the past few years. But I’ve learned a few things along the way and I want to share some of these nuggets with you today. So happy to be joining my friend Alisa at Flourishing Today for the “30 Days From Fear To Freedom” blog tour. I pray you’re encouraged!
Fear and I have been fast friends for most of my life. I grew up in an abusive home. Amazingly, I was saved at a young age. I don’t know how I would have navigated my crazy childhood without Jesus. Even when life didn’t make since, I knew that God was ALWAYS in control.
Fear holds us back from being all that Jesus wants us to be. Click To Tweet
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
God is always in control, even in our fear-filled, anxiety-ridden, panic-stricken moments.
We don’t need to get worked up about all the crazy stuff going on in our minds and the world around us. That wisdom has taken me decades to figure out, and I’m still a work in progress.
In our fear-filled moments, we need to take a stand by claiming the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus!
Can you think back to a childhood memory where fear got the better of you?
When I was 7, I developed a shark phobia. I live in the Midwest, which is like, really, seriously far from the ocean, by the way. But one night in my living room, my normal childhood fears like spiders, falling off my bike and monsters in the closet went right out the window and sharks took over terrorizing me.
My parents decided to let me watch Jaws with them on our big living room TV. HELLO, who in their right mind lets a 7 year old watch a movie about a revenge-filled killer shark?
Ok, in their defense, they told me to cover my eyes whenever the dun-dun-dun-dun noises started. But I peeked. Because, what 7-year old wouldn’t peek?
Holy Moses, friend. I’m telling you, that was not a good year for me. I became afraid of all the watery things. I was scared to use the toilet because I was convinced Jaws would get me through the plumbing. Like, ALL plumbing, at school, at home, at the mall, everywhere. I was on high alert in the kitchen, the bathroom and any place that essentially had a drain or a faucet (even hardware stores).
I giggle now, but back then I was in full blown phobia mode.
I was out of my noodle for months with crying fits and irrational thinking. Tons of nightmares too. My bedroom had deep blue carpet, and that equals ocean to a hysterical, shark-phobic 7 year old in the dark. Thankfully, logic played a small part in my brain, because I knew he couldn’t get me through our bathroom sink, it had an unusually tiny drain, so I always had sparkly whites. No cavities for me that year.
Fear is no joking matter.
Thankfully, decades later, I can see a picture of a shark and not have a panic attack most of the time. That’s thanks to a deep sea scuba dive gone bad in my mid 20s. Sharks were everywhere. I had a panic attack under water and was hyperventilating to the point I punched the scuba guide in the face. OK, we were under water, so it was a mask. But still. She was bleeding. And well, blood and sharks, need I say more? Thankfully, she held me down and tied a rope to my foot in my craziness so I didn’t fly straight up to the surface and explode my lungs.
Scuba diving is officially ruined for me, but I’m over my shark phobia now. I swam with lots of sharks and blood and I survived. How much worse could it get? Plus, I live in the Midwest and the nearest shark-infested waters are thousands of miles away from me. So there’s that.
I will admit it, I still close my eyes when Netflix has Jaws queued up in its highlight feed. But I can officially pee as an adult without freaking out thinking sharks are gonna bite my tushie, so I’ve come a long way baby! Though I won’t do swimming pools, or lakes, or really water of any kind except the hygienic bathtub and sauna sort. But otherwise, I’m cured!
You may giggle, but fears are no laughing matter. And the truth is, we all have them to one degree or another.
We can choose to let the fears overtake us or we can learn to punch fear in the face.
What’s YOUR fear? What’s holding you back from being all that God created you to be?
Maybe it’s fear of an unknown future, concerns about your health, the unknowns of a rocky marriage or financial issues. Maybe it’s fear of writing that book God has put on your heart, or fear of failure. Maybe it’s sharks, or thunderstorms or crowded spaces. Maybe it’s all of the above!
There are so many things in this world that can grip our hearts with fear.
The cure for fear comes down to the ABCs.
Fear destroys us from the inside out. It tears apart our relationships. It messes with our minds. It’s a virus that has a proven cure: BOLD FAITH IN JESUS.If you feel like you're struggling in a deep sea of fear, TURN TO JESUS! Click To Tweet
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
The trouble is, when we are afraid, our brains get overloaded and a bunch of science-y human biology things happen. The last thing we think about in that moment of flight or fight panic is to trust in Jesus because all rational thought has flown out the window!
That’s why we must learn how to punch fear in the face!
We need tools to help us remain calm when the proverbial crazy hits the fan.
These are some tips I’ve learned over the years in my own battles with fear and anxiety.
The ABCs of finding freedom from fear:
Don’t pretend you have it all together. It’s exhausting and you are the furthest thing from together if you’re dealing with anxiety or fear. In fact, mentally and emotionally you are likely in pieces. Acknowledge that truth. You don’t need to tell everyone all the dirty details. But the reality is, people you see regularly will know you aren’t OK, so stop lying. Ditch the act and put your energy into what matters: punching fear in the face!
Talk to someone. Be honest, bold and brave. Share your fears!
The interesting thing about fear is that once it comes into the light, it doesn’t seem to have as much power over you.
If you need professional help, seek it. Don’t be ashamed or afraid. Do what you need to do to live free! If a loved one shames you, find new people to hang out with and seek a stronger support network. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. No one does.
OK, I don’t mean literally take a breath, I’m talking about a tool called Box Breathing. It’s the best thing I have ever learned in a therapist’s office.
Navy Seals do it before they go into enemy territory to keep their amygdala from rapid firing. The amygdala is that pesky part of your brain that makes you get into fight or flight mode when you feel threatened mentally (emotionally), physically or verbally. It’s a built in mechanism to help keep you alive, but it can get wonky when you’re in a place where everything seems like a threat.
How to Box Breathe (also called 4×4 breathing)
Take four breaths in, hold steady for another four breaths, then release your breath for a count of four and hold that release for another four counts. Then start all over again. Try it. Right now!
You can use box breathing when your toddler is having a mental breakdown, when you’re in an argument with your spouse or when that work deadline is looming. If your lungs can’t handle four counts, start with two or three counts and move up to four. You can Box Breathe for a few reps or a few minutes. There are even apps to help and they are kind of fun. Regular, daily practice is necessary to allow it to kick in when the crazy happens. You need it to be second nature!
You need Jesus. Always. But especially in your overwhelmed, freak out moments. Jesus calms you. He loves you. And He’s right there with you in those crazy moments. You aren’t going through it alone.
I know it’s hard to read your Bible when panic sets in and you’re exhausted from your mind going 24/7. I get it. But make Bible time a priority. If my mind is fuzzy from lack of sleep, etc. I put on the audio Bible or turn on Christian music or a podcast to keep me focused on Jesus.
Choose to do something that keeps your day rooted in God’s Word and the truth of His love for you.
If you are in a season of life with little people or stressed out from big life stuff and literally can’t focus on more than a sentence at a time in any book, bring out the Jesus Storybook Bible or another kid’s Bible. They’re packed with simple truths and reminders of how much Jesus loves you. If a cranky toddler can grasp the words, you can too!
Don’t forget to PRAY. Seriously, talk to God. He already knows you’re freaking out, but there’s something cool about the act of opening our hearts up to Jesus and pouring it all out that helps us go deeper into a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Whether you’re hanging out in the living room, driving your car or sitting on your bed, take time to have a conversation with Him. Cast your worries over to Him and punch fear in the face.
“Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Brave people conquer fear by working through it.
Have you heard of Nelson Mandela? He’s a former South African President who won a Nobel peace prize for his work to help end apartheid. He had some great thoughts on fear.
“I learned that courage was 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
Did you catch that?
A brave man still feels afraid, but does the work to conquer the fear anyway.
So put in the work. Be brave. Get to know the ABCs above and punch fear in the face!
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Any tips on how you have handled your own issues with anxiety and fear? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below or join the Showered In Grace Facebook community and share with us.