I had an irrational fear of the dark as a little girl. Not in every dark place, mind you. Mostly just at my Grandmother’s house. I have no idea why. Absolutely nothing ever happened there to make me feel afraid. In fact, some of my happiest childhood memories happened in her home, but when bedtime came and the house went dark (even with my closet light on), I became afraid. That queen sized bed felt huge to my 4-year old body, and I have a distinct memory of making sure I was sleeping exactly in the middle so no one could easily grab me from underneath. I knew there wasn’t anything (or anyone) under the bed, but I still felt the need to just be sure. Such a silly fear of nothing.
I eventually grew out of that fear, but adult fears are just as real.
Over the last months, fear has made itself a little too much at home in me.
Fear of having hard conversations.
Fear of taking risks.
Fear of letting others down.
Fear of failing.
Fear of making the wrong decision.
And when bedtime, or any other quiet moment comes, my most natural tendency is to run through every possible outcome of each fear. Unless I intervene, my mind runs wild, creating all sorts of anxiety and worry along the way.
As I recently arrived at a significant point of decision, lugging all the baggage of fear I’d been accumulating for the last several months, my husband asked me one clear, straightforward question: “Meredith, what are you really afraid of?” His question caused me to dig deep, to wade through all the little fears to find the one driving all the others. As I articulated the heart of my fear in simple words, for the first time, I realized how silly it sounded. Don’t misunderstand me - I was facing a weighty decision and a favorable outcome wasn’t guaranteed, but next to the tall, powerful truth of scripture, my concerns seemed tiny and insignificant.
Having fear isn’t really the biggest issue. We are humans with limited knowledge. We only know what we know, and a lot of times we have more questions than answers. But what do we do with our fear? Do we hold on to it for dear life? Or do we call it what it is and hand it to the one who actually knows our future? Sometimes the process of handing it over has to be repeated a hundred times a day because fear likes to find it’s way back to us. Here’s what scripture says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
So many of the scenarios I’ve been worked up over have played out just fine. In many cases, the things I was worried about turned out to be almost non-events. No drama. No fire works. No end of the world. Some of the scenarios turned out great! Some even exceeded every hope and expectation I could have dreamed of! Instead of spending my thoughts on something productive and life-giving, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy feeling anxious and afraid, when peace was mine for the taking.
Even if things had gone a little sideways, the sun would have continued to rise in the mornings and set in the evenings.
I really had nothing to be afraid of.
I want to hear your thoughts - please comment below! How are you overcoming fear right now?