Morning Friends,

I’m still in Germany (home tomorrow). Today we have another guest who is going to talk about our problem with fear. After the huge snowstorm in January of 2016 here on the East Coast, she told me the sad story about an elderly woman who died. As we processed what happened and how her fear got the best of her, we began to notice a lot of parallels to how we as women, handle our fear. As a result, I invited her to write about these insights and share her journey with us.

Scared to Death (Guest Blogger)

Here’s the kicker, she did tell someone. “I’m just going to stay in your parking lot, I’m afraid to drive in the snow.” She was elderly, a long way from home, perhaps confused, certainly afraid; yet with enough clarity to know she needed help. So she did what you’re supposed to do ~ tell someone.

That Friday afternoon the impending blizzard loomed like a giant in front of her. Figuring she’d done the right thing, she pulled into a parking space to eat her dinner. She waited, quietly and alone.

They found her Monday morning … frozen to death inside her vehicle. It had been plowed into that same parking space less than a baseball’s throw from the restaurant’s drive-in window. The same drive-in window where she had told someone. “How on earth does THAT happen??” was everyone’s first response. From a logical standpoint, none of it made sense. Initial encounters with someone’s fears rarely do.

Segway over to a comment I recently read in response to a blog post on abusive spouses. Paraphrased it went something like this, “I had already put deadbolts on the doors into my bedroom. One night, unable to get through the locked doors, I saw my husband attempting to climb through my bedroom window when he thought I was out. I decided I needed to put locks on the windows as well.” I could almost hear her voice quivering. I couldn’t get the painted picture of Rapunzel out of my head. The fair maiden living in a locked tower. I shuttered. I can’t imagine how huge that presence must have felt to her in that dark space.

“Who lives like THAT?!?” was my knee-jerk response. Then the small voice in my own heart spoke … “You did”.

True … that seemed like ages ago. How quickly we tend to forget the power of a past enemy once it has been relinquished to its proper place.

The truth of the matter is that fear does have a voice – sometimes it roars and sometimes it whispers. Yet the most important thing we need to know is that ultimately it must be faced. On a day-to-day basis as a maturing body of faith, we are wise to know that. In situations of crisis or abuse it is imperative to have an even keener understanding of the voice of fear ~~ so many of us don’t. This is essential to realistically and honorably manage and monitor ourselves and our environments.

Let’s begin to examine fear by understanding three of its strongest characteristics. Next week we will learn how to use fear as the fuel to power our lives instead of decimating them.

First and foremost in order to tame fear, we must acknowledge its existence and honor its presence. There are eleven nouns and nine verbs in the Hebrew and Greek biblical language that are regularly used to translate the words “fear” and “to be afraid”. That’s a lot of shades of fear!

By this, we understand fear truly is indeed a real force to be reckoned with. Its existence is not up for debate. The key to our success lies in the reckoning.

Biblically speaking we are told 365 times throughout scripture “Do not fear.” However, not once do we read that we are not to acknowledge its existence or honor its presence. Goliath was a real man, in real clothes, with real weapons and a very loud voice ~ persistent in his demand to be heard. I am sure he was terrifying to look at. The epitome of the word bully. That’s both real and frightening.

However, owning fear disproportionately is scripturally what we are warned against. Why? Because it locks us into dark places, pushes us down slippery slopes, and given enough power over time it can eventually deliver us over to death in a lonely parking lot.

“Do not fear” is the mandate that keeps us from harm’s way. It holds us accountable to action. Once we know about fear, we are required to do something with that knowledge. The Israelites had let Goliath stand there for a long time. Every moment he stood there his voice grew larger ~ from a whisper to a roar ~ freezing the Israelites in their tracks.

Secondly, fear, like Goliath always has a message it wants to deliver. The problem is those messages can run from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is our job to learn to speak its language and interpret the meanings of those messages. Life often offers up situations and circumstances that do and should evoke in us the feelings of fear.

The thought of going off a bridge or highway in a blizzard would evoke a natural feeling of fear. The sight of a strange man trying to climb through a bedroom window in the dark should prompt a physical response to terror.

However, it's in the interpretation of those messages that our battles are either won or lost. Our success lies in the ability to discern fear as the friend who is kept close, and we know fondly, or the enemy whom we keep closer in order to scrutinize intimately.

Lastly, in the scrutiny lies our victory. We, like David, need to deliver the right message into the face of fear.

We must learn to speak our truth even if our voice shakes. In order to do that, we have got to develop the proper grid through which to run the giant who continues to demand our attention. (Tweet that)

That grid formula works off of a two-pronged approach. We begin with a realistic assessment of the circumstance in front of us. We then take that circumstance and measure it in relationship to the size of the God who has gone before us.

When we approach the fear from that perspective, it becomes a game changer. We are no longer merely dragging our fearful circumstances before the throne to make God aware of them in our lives. As a guest of its host, we now escort our circumstances and fears into the presence of God to introduce them to who He is.

David made the introduction this way, “You come at me with spear and sword,” he spoke to Goliath (a very true statement). “I come at you in the name of the Lord.” (also a very true statement). David’s victory was secured in the moment he introduced Goliath to his host ~ the Lord God Almighty. David knew who needed to meet whom. He stood firm, confidently making the necessary introductions.

While David had an action to take, the action went beyond the simple introduction. His ability to turn the fear on its ear to fuel the slingshot had been fine tuned in the pastures fending lions and bears ~ a slow build that eventually allowed him to face his ultimate nemesis. This single positive action is where his victory was secured.

Here’s the formula: size the fear, measure it against your God, make the introduction, put your previous practice to use, and then transfer that fear into the fuel that will power the victory. That’s the grid!

The lynchpin of his victory lay in the fact that he brought a keen understanding of who his enemy (or fear) was in comparison to the size and power of his God. His past experiences enabled him to refine fear to fuel. It had little to do with his own size in that moment, but everything to do with his ability to leverage his enemy in the face of danger.

So today, in preparation for next time, let’s stop for a moment and name our fears ~ literally list them. Then invite them into your presence as you would guests to a dinner party. Assess the places of importance they occupy in your life, then assign them seats. Prepare them for next week where we will give them the proper honor due an esteemed guest. We honor them properly by learning to hear their voices and use them to leverage our victories. Go, Valiant Warriors, prepare the band for the victory dance.

 

Friends, when have you confronted your fears?

24 Comments

  1. Dawn on May 11, 2016 at 7:20 am

    .

    • Conquerer on May 18, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      I just want peace. I want to get back the sense of safety and security he stole.
      He won’t change and doesn’t want a divorce.
      I feel I’m living with a emotionally distant man who is a Covert Narcissist.
      I feel trapped.

  2. Survivor on May 11, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Thank you so much for this post!!!!! For so long, I lived in fear of staying…..and in fear of leaving; I lived in fear of speaking up…..and in fear of staying silent–both with him and with those from whom I desired help. I lived in fear when he was edgy….and when he was ‘nice’. …….and I didn’t even realize I was afraid. I had learned to ignore my feelings. To just keep going. I had ups and downs of trying to face things and be realistic…..but it was always so difficult to be REAL when there was no solution and everyone only offered false hope of my marriage being restored…. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”……and my heart was VERY sick!!!

    3 weeks ago, I left my abusive husband for the third time in 6 years. This time, I am refusing to allow people force me to talk about reconciliation. I am allowing myself space to recover, grow and become healthy–and help my kids do the same. If God brings us back together, I will receive that–but only from Him.

    “I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God!”

    • Ann L on May 11, 2016 at 8:15 am

      Survivor– Atta-Girl for you. Wishing you continued strength, safety, and the courage to build a new vision for your future, complete with new persons and new ways of relating to everyone you meet.

      • Survivor on May 11, 2016 at 10:07 am

        Thanks, Ann!! One step at a time. One day at a time……

      • Conquerer on May 18, 2016 at 7:35 pm

        Yes, go Girl!!! Stay Free!!!

    • Melissa on May 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      I love that newsboys song!!

    • Robin on May 12, 2016 at 12:19 am

      You go Survivor!!! Happy for you!!!!

    • Leslee on May 14, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Dear Survivor- what a blessing to read your words. Thank you for the courage to share your heart….you’ve described my experience perfectly. It’s so hard to describe sometimes. So hard to find the right words. Most people will never understand but this warrior sister does! Praying for His strength as it is made perfect in you.

      • Survivor on May 15, 2016 at 9:15 am

        Thanks Leslee!! It is a journey, to be sure…..and we don’t get there overnight. But, one step at a time, we learn and we grow. Blessings to you on your journey!!!

  3. Linda on May 11, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I found it fascinating when I learned that the women at Jesus’ tomb were ‘afraid, yet filled with joy’ {Matthew 28:8}.

    It was a freeing thing when I realized that even though fear comes and goes for us all, the Fruit of the Spirit remain because He never leaves us.

    And joy is one of those fruit. Even in the midst of whatever kind of emotions are assailing.

  4. Aleea on May 11, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    RE: Scared to Death (Guest Blogger) “Friends, when have you confronted your fears?”

    ―Thank you so much, Guest Blogger, for sharing! This post is *very* insightful. I don’t see how we would ever get better without confronting our fears. My counselor is always saying to me: “When your fears are at the door, think about choosing to get up, open the door, invite them all in and give them a hug.” ―Whew, that is so hard to do!

    . . .It is rare. . . . but during the times when I have dropped the defense mechanisms: ―frantic activity; ―various numbing devices; etc. I have invited those fears in. When I have dropped the defense mechanisms that were covering over and keeping me from really confronting my own fear/hurt and my own wounds, it has helped. When I have accepted my fears, those times actually made me stronger.***

    The real problem with our fears, of course, is that they come from within us. Those voices in our heads that give us 30 reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t do those things that are our hearts desire. They are the “what ifs” that stop us cold every time. They are us at our weakest. Lets be honest, ladies, there isn’t anyone we listen to more during the course of a day than ourselves.

    “Name your fears ~ literally list them” & “The importance they occupy in your life”
    Okay. . . 1) Christian origins: Fear that the Christ-of-Faith is not the same as the Jesus-of-History; 2) Rejection for being needy (being unloved); 3) Being rejected for failure. Not meeting others’ expectations (failure). 4) Inability to love myself and stop shaming myself; 5) Hell; 6) That people will take away my choices; 7) Being abandoned (again).

    For me, being introduced to reality is hard. It seems to me that it is not what we believe, it is WHY we are believing it. What are our beliefs keeping us from confronting. What are they covering over? How do we make spaces safe enough, judgement-free zones *secure enough* so that people can really share what they already know. Do we have the courage to confront our doubt even say. . . in worship? I have never seen it at my church. All I see is certainty and triumphalism and insistence that God must function as a “feel-good” entity rather than the One who helps us engage our suffering, our doubts and our uncertainties even if they deconstruct or demythologize Him in the process. I *sincerely* care if what I believe is true, not just that it is useful in some way. . . . . Anyways, when I look for deeper meanings behind my pain, sometimes I can begin to heal certain issues. I know first-hand that going deep to uncover emotional injury (confront my fears) is so hard but so often necessary.

    ***Our practices do not fall short of our beliefs; they are our beliefs.

    • Remedy on May 12, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Seriously, it is not to be taken lightly at all. For many, their lives truly could be endangered.

  5. Elizabeth on May 12, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    When I read the title to this blog, “Scared to Death”, I was reminded of the effects of chronic stress on our health. Even when our spouses don’t physically harm us in a direct way, the results of daily, unrelenting fear on the human body can be crippling.

    • LindaLou on May 14, 2016 at 7:23 am

      My child, I’m so sorry. I can only tell you over and over I wish you never had to be subjected to such stress in your growing up years. I have done you and your sister a great disservice. Please forgive me for not standing up for you, for me, for us.

      • Elizabeth on May 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm

        Oh, ma, I didn’t say that to guilt you. I love you very much. Thank you for being here for me.

  6. Stephanie on May 23, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    For 21 years (23 if you count dating and engagement) I have tried to live with, and repeatedly forgive, an emotionally abusive, serial philanderer. I often went to counselors, but was afraid to tell what he really was. I made no close friends because I feared my abuse being known. I was afraid to lose him. I was afraid to stay with him as the abuse became worse and worse. Finally, he is done with me. His leaving has been my salvation and, strangely enough in our state, my future provision. Now my greatest fear is him making an attempt to return. All of these years I have never considered what my response to the fear should be. I have just tried to suppress it and not fear.

  7. Meg on May 25, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    i can’t seem to get my faith bigger than my fear. My husband always wins. He’s very religious and that seems to affect my trust in my Father. I know my Father doesn’t deserve this in my head, but my heart does not get it.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 9:08 am

      So Meg, it’s very good that you understand where you are – I believe in my head but not in my heart, so now what can you do about this split? Can you get some help? Invite some more godly women to mentor you in building your faith? When you are lost – physically – in the car, you don’t know where you are and don’t know how to get out of where you are, we usually stop at a gas station or call someone and ask for directions, including our GPS. It’s time you ask for directions to move your faith forward. Your husband cannot be yoru teacher in this as his views are warped. Get some help to build your faith.

  8. Marie on June 3, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    This past weekend my husband told me that my fears were not true and that he was a safe place. This all came out of the fact that I wanted to read a letter with a counselor present and my husband was hurt because I felt unsafe. I told him I did not feel safe and I would not read what I have without a 3rd person. And he named my fear as something I needed to stop and not feed the lie. I said “it’s like looking at a lion and the lion roars at you and says “I’m safe, trust me” and I say I hear you but I see you and I am listening to my fear because you are a lion after all.” Name the fear, trust your gut and walk in wisdom with boldness. But the fear is important because it is telling and you have to trust it and not numb it. This is a hard road and right now I am literally facing demons and telling my husband that if he cannot get help for his aggression then our marriage will not work. We cannot work on us and I cannot give him affection until he truly repents of aggression, emotion/verbal abuse, disliking of women and places where he takes my voice and gaslights. It is thick and I am praying for confidence and listening to the voice of God, looking for His light and setting boundaries. Fear of my husband is legit, fear that I cannot survive on my own (as he claimed) is a threat and a lie.

  9. LMM on June 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I have been in a EDM for almost 18 years. I am starting to see and recognize this and some of the tactics used. How does one stop the cycle of fear and the habits developed over years trying to protect?
    How do you start to pull all the overgrowth of weeds? How do you get back to the reality of what is truly happening? How much of the situation is because I have believed lies and fallen for the deception. It can’t all be his fault!
    I don’t know how to think for myself anymore. I am NOT able to make decisions because of being paralyzed by fear.
    There is no one to help. Sure there is one lady who will listen but then say I will pray for you and the situation. Yes, prayer is helpful and I know God uses prayer and He is in control of all things. Doesn’t He provide physical help as well?
    My husband believes he is saved; however i truly doubt it. My pastor believes that because I am saved the Bible says I need to stay until the unbeliever leaves. I am becoming more anxious and resentful; not only of my husband but also of others because they know what is happening, but won’t help. (At the same time, how can i blame them for not helping, when i cant help myself?)I know it is wrong and this is something in the end need to do on my own. But I don’t know how to start to change. I have a hard time trying to figure out how much if this is just a mind game that has been played. I consistently second guess my salvation as well. I am not sure if this is because I am truly not saved or because I have not met the standards that my husband has set for me as a godly wife.
    I guess it all comes down to whether I am going to trust God and His plan. I have a long way to go because I have created a pattern of fear. Ideas of how to break through?

  10. Marie on June 8, 2016 at 8:50 am

    First and foremost I am so sorry!! I am 6 years in and the water is so muddy and the blanket of abuse is almost scary to throw off, I couldn’t imagine 18years. Sister you are loved and you are loved deeply by your King.

    I am realizing how much I play a part in the fact that I long to be validated and I perpetuate the cycle. So learning your needs and stepping out of the cycle is a hard step. Also knowing that you cannot change him– prayer is important and pray hard but the thing I am told over and over again is that I cannot change him. He needs to know and own the fact that he wants to be changed and has a problem. But I can’t live in the hope that if I pray hard enough I can change him or if he doesn’t change I must’ve failed in my praying. I still hope but I don’t have power to change– if I think my prayers can save him then I continue the validation cycle. Not sure if that makes sense? Again my prayers are important.

    Is there a way you can see a counselor? Call around and ask for someone who has dealt with power and control and gas lighting. That’s a great first step. Seems like your church and this lady have great intentions but seemingly misguided. You need to stand on rock solid truth. Also your local woman’s shelter may offer free counseling (although may not be Christian and more social work-ish but a great place to start too), that’s where I started. Naming it as abuse was my first step– and naming that I was in an abusive marriage.

    Oh and fear, I am learning is so important. Pay attention to your fear– just like this post. Pay attention to it, name it and invite it to the table. Size it up to your God. But fear is important and you need to realize its presence. You have right to be afraid, a legit fear. There is a reason it is standing before you.

    Just like I tell my daughter with the food she doesn’t want to eat, “one bite at a time.”

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Yes small bites of truth and nourishment help us make small steps of change.

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