the thing about fear

I can be a very fearful person. If someone doesn’t respond to my text in the first half hour, I start freaking out that I said something wrong. If my dad doesn’t get home when he’s supposed to, there’s a little part of my brain that starts thinking something happened.

I’ve worried about all of the 400 IMs I’ve ever swam (even tried to get out of them….my coach never let me, so I swam them all) and though it is perfectly normal to be nervous for races, I actually worried about them.

I also have this fear of the end of the world. Which can be properly discussed in a whole different post, but yeah….not good. Lots of panicking. LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS. (Special shout out to my parents for dealing with this worry that has a habit of popping up at random times.)

To summarize: I have a lot of fear. Whether it’s legitimate or entirely irrational (this year at Nationals, I thought I was going to get dead last in the 100 fly), it’s fear, and I’m going to be entirely honest here: it is horrible, awful, dreadful, and sometimes paralyzing.

That is the truth about fear.

It can be over something small or something big that everyone will sympathize with, but it’s still the same. When I was down at Nationals thinking that I could get dead last (long story short: I literally trained for a month after barely being in the pool for a year), I couldn’t stop crying. Hours before, behind the blocks, though I thankfully pulled it together to not get dead last. When I was in the middle of writing my novel, I had a few weeks that I couldn’t write anything because I couldn’t get myself to put words on the paper.

So yeah, it sucks.

Several months ago, it became painfully obvious to me that I spend way too much time worrying. Case in point, there’s this Bible verse:

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? ~ Matthew 6:27

They can’t. You can be worried about not having enough money to pay the car insurance, or what about the rent, or what about the world ending tomorrow? You can worry about it all, but it is never going to add a day, an hour, or a minute to your life.

Which I’ve come to realize. I decided not to count all the time I wasted, but I can say it was a lot. And most people can probably say the same.

A week or so ago, I was laying in bed a little concerned about something, and then started thinking about how I’m going to Boston with my dad in about a month. Which is going to be a dream come true on so many levels. All the sudden, I was like ‘oh my gosh, what if I start living in fear again and ruin the whole trip?’.

And it hit me. (Probably for the thousandth time.)

The devil wants everything ruined. John 10:10 talks about how the devil comes to kill and destroy, which is obviously horrible, and I think people talk about those two things the most, but what is so important is the first part of what is discussed.

The devil comes to STEAL. Not just our lives, but our hope. Our faith. And our peace. Sure, he is here to kill and destroy, but if he kills us, we go to heaven. That probably doesn’t bring him much joy (can he feel that emotion?) or fun. What the devil delights in is seeing us suffer here.

And fear makes us suffer. Some of us keep it deep down, hiding it away from the world. Some of us show it quietly, through falling asleep at a desk, because we couldn’t sleep the night before. Some of us reach out to people for help. No matter how hard we try to hide it or try to let people know of what’s going on, it’s all suffering. It sucks. And the devil loves it.

As Christians, we’re supposed to be joyful. Filled with light. Sharing the Gospel with others.

Fear takes that away.

Worries, concerns, freak-outs, panic and anxiety attacks – none of those are from God.

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

God has given us love. Love toward ourselves and to others. He has given us sound minds. Y’know how sometimes a little thing, that logically shouldn’t be an issue, sets you off? He gives us the strength to say ‘no, that’s ridiculous’.

And he gives us power. I could write a whole post on the power we have in Christ (later), but it’s so important to look at this verse and see that God gives us POWER. Power to tell the devil to stay away from us. To bat away the bag of worries he is dangling in front of us. To run away, as fast as we can, from the darkness that is the nets of fear.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13

We serve the God of HOPE. When I start worrying, I forget about hope. Peace goes out the window. And there is no joy on the inside. But in this verse, it talks about trusting in him. When we put our trust in God, he fills us with hope, joy, and peace. Finances might look bleak, a guy might not be texting back, the news is screaming death and destruction, but look to God.

That’s what I’ve started doing. Take a deep breath, remember that the literal Creator of the Universe is taking care of things, and release it to him.

So do not fear, for I am with you do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

A few years ago, I spent an entire fall and winter feeling like crap because I couldn’t get the truth into my head: the devil is trying to steal your joy.  Because when you don’t have joy, you feel like crap. And when you feel like crap, it’s hard to put your hands in the air and say ‘God, I give you all of me’. And without that surrender, without releasing yourself to him, you feel far away from God.

And when you’re away from God, you start slipping. Feeling miserable. Snapping at your friends and family. Feeling like nothing is working.

And you know what ultimately happens?

The devil takes control. There is no more joy or peace or hope. When the devil has his claws implanted, there is only pain, anger, and fear. Which are almost the exact opposites of what God gives.

Don’t let the devil have you. He doesn’t get to have you. He doesn’t deserve to have you. GOD deserves to have you. What did the devil ever do to help? Nothing. If you’re trying to pick a side right now, if you’re teetering on the fence of fear and peace, fall into the arms of God. He’ll catch you, wipe away the tears, and he’ll put his arms around you. Those arms ooze with peace and joy and hope. If you’re tangled in the devil’s arms, take that leap of faith and smash your heel into his stomach. Get out of there.

There is no fear of the future when you’re with God.

And that’s the thing about fear. In it, we see only darkness and death. But when we’re in God’s arms, we see light. A beautiful, relaxing, and joyful light that promises that no matter what, no matter how sucky it seems, God’s got this.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. ~ Isaiah 9:2

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Lover of Jesus, life, coffee, books, writing, and family.

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