Conquering Your Fears
- Thursday, September 24, 2009
It's officially autumn. With thoughts of Fall come thoughts of crispy red leaves, roaring fireplaces, candy corn, denim jackets, and unfortunately, Halloween. While I enjoy dressing up my baby girl and taking her to the church carnival, I don't enjoy the holiday. In fact, I absolutely despise trying to watch TV the entire month of October because of all the horror movies being shown or featured. I don't like to be afraid.
Fear is a funny thing. It's a mental emotion that can lead to physical reactions in the form of sweating, adrenaline rushes, accelerated heart rates, etc. It's probably the least favorite emotion of most people in this world. Yet, it's probably one of the most commonly experienced. We fear death. We fear destruction. We fear rejection. We fear pain.
Have you ever been afraid?
I remember one time as a teenager my family took a trip to a Ripley's museum in Dallas. There was a room with many doors, each labeled with various fears. Most were closets stuffed full of decorations of that specific fear, like spiders, etc. But one door was marked The Fear of Fear and actually was a walk-through path, like in a haunted house. The funny thing about that door, though, was that nothing happened. But the entire time, you were scared that it might, therefore proving their point.
For me, I've always been afraid of clowns. It's a random phobia of mine. It took years for me to accept Ronald McDonald on a fast food playground. The circus is simply out of the question. Not entirely sure how or why this developed, but it did. No Big Top for me, please!
My pastor openly admits to being afraid of the dark, and he's an ex-boxer. His hands are as big as boxing gloves, as if his former career morphed directly into his skin. Yet, he can't stand the darkness.
My good friend is terrified of spiders. Not in the typical girly, don't-want-to-touch-them sort of way, but in the would-rather-sleep-in-the-car-if-she-sees-one-in-her-bedroom sort of way.
So what are you afraid of? Why? Is fear something you'd rather conquer, or avoid altogether?
My fourteen-month-old daughter is scared of the vacuum cleaner. Terrified. She actually claps as soon as you turn it off out of sheer relief. One time when she was younger I actually vacuumed the entire house with one hand, holding her on my hip with the other, and let's just say that wasn't a good idea for anyone—me, her, or the floors. I used muscles that day that I didn't know existed! It took us months of patience to get her to accept the dust buster—a smaller version of her fear. She's wary around it, but okay.
The other day my floors were demanding that she put aside her fears and let Mama clean. So, I told Little Miss that Mama had to vacuum, and it was just a bigger version of the dust buster, and she'd have to deal with it for a few minutes. The carpets were practically moving -- it was past time to clean them. I got out the vacuum, plugged it in, pasted a big "see, Mama is happy, this is a good thing" smile on my face, and turned it on.
Little Miss grabbed Gigi, her beloved stuffed giraffe she hasn't put down in months, and tottered out of the room. She paused in the doorway, Gigi clutched in both fists, and stared, as if making sure I was all right. Then she watched from the corner of the doorway in whatever room I was in as I vacuumed. She never cried, but you could tell she was nervous.
I made my way into the living room. She crawled up in her purple and white polka dot toddler chair with a toy and watched me from the corner of her eye as I cleaned around her. Then, as I got closer and closer to her chair, she realized that Gigi was on the floor about two feet away, directly in the path of the vacuum.
You could almost see her start to sweat. Risk the Beast, or save Gigi from certain destruction? Her eyes darted back and forth between the roaring monster and her dear friend, as I watched the moment the decision was made. She dove headfirst out of her chair, in true military fashion, and elbow-crawled the two steps to Gigi. Then she snatched the giraffe up in a headlock and climbed back into her chair, all in one long fluid motion.
That, my friends, was a heroic act.
What about us?
As Christians, I think sometimes it's scary to share our faith. We're afraid of looking foolish, of not knowing what to say, of being rejected or labeled as "weird." But why is it so hard for us to defeat our fear in order to save a loved one? Why can't we reach out like Little Miss did for Gigi and snatch our friends from the grip of certain spiritual destruction?
In that scenario, the vacuum cleaner is no longer The Beast, but the threat of hell is. And there's (obviously) a lot more at stake there than just fur trapped in a roller. If a terrified child is willing to risk her fears to save her friend, why can't we?
I think it comes down to perspective. If we weigh the circumstances against our fear, we realized how petty and small our concerns really are. How important is the fear of feeling awkward against the very real threat of a loved one missing Heaven? How could the anxiety over stuttering our words or being misunderstood ever be stronger than the idea of a friend never knowing Christ? It's all in how you view it. And under that light, I believe the answer is clear, and so is the command.
Matthew 28:18-20 "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
The best way to conquer fear is to realize you're not alone. I could have never made it through that Ripley's walk without one hand clinging to my dad's shirt sleeve. Little Miss could probably have never gotten the courage to rescue Gigi if I hadn't been standing a few feet away.
So take a deep breath, hold tight to the dusty sleeve of our Lord's tunic, and be brave. Share your faith. Take that first step. If you stumble, He's there. If you run out of words, He's there. If you get nervous, His peace will suffice. John 15:13says, "Greater love hath no man than this, but to lay down his life for a friend."
This Halloween season, are we going to cower and let the fear of the world consume our faith? Or are we going to fight against the darkness of the holiday and give God the glory He deserves every day of the year by witnessing to others?
The choice is yours. But next time you use your vacuum cleaner, remember the bravery of a dear little soul and remember that God can use even the smallest of us to accomplish his plans on this earth.
Betsy Ann St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her hubby and newborn daughter. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. Look for RETURN TO LOVE, Betsy's first novel with Steeple Hill Love Inspired, today. You may contact Betsy at email@example.com.
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