For God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and clarity of mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
I “fasted” from fear for Lent this year. Basically that meant that I paid careful attention to what my fears were and what was causing them, and I tried to live my life in spite of those fears. On some days, I forced myself to do whatever it was that was making me feel afraid. And in the process, I learned a lot about the role fear plays in my life.
I learned that I have lots of different fears, but they all fall into a few categories: fear of the unknown, fear of things outside of my control, and fear of pain, both physical and emotional. I learned that I let fear dictate my actions. There are so many things in life that I’ve refused to do because I feared the end result. The most embarrassing part of all this is that most (if not all) of my fears are totally irrational. I feel like I’ve walked into a cage, locked myself in, and thrown away the key.
I can’t tell you how many times my daydreams have been held hostage by my fears. Every time Quentin travels, I imagine what I would do if he never came back. When I lived alone, I’d imagine how I would deal with the after effects of being attacked in a home invasion. Even now when I hear something in the night, my first assumption is that someone got into our apartment. My mind is prisoner to my fears. Why do I allow myself to waste precious time imagining the worst instead of thanking God for all the beauty in my real life? I’m not sure. But one thing I do know: fear has robbed me of several opportunities to praise and thank my God for all He’s done and for the amazing life He’s allowed me to live, and I refuse to allow myself to continue this pattern.
Fasting from fear for forty days hasn’t rid me of my fears (not in the slightest), but it has made me more aware of my struggle, and now I am consciously and constantly practicing fearlessness. If you’re in the same boat as I am, here are a few things I’m doing in order to get my life back:
Reading On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington //
I can’t say enough about this book. It has literally changed the way I approach fear. I read it in the beginning of the year and again during Lent, and I will more than likely read it a third time. Arianna shares so many gems in this book and uses examples from her life and from the lives of other amazing women. If you struggle with fear, this book will help you realize you’re not alone and will give you the encouragement you need to start practicing fearlessness.
Counting my blessings //
It’s amazing how quickly you can get over your fears when you start looking back at the amazing things that God has already done in your life. Every single time I’ve started feeling fearful and have counted my blessings, I end up wondering why I was ever afraid in the first place. I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve seen God open up so many doors in my life. I’ve seen Him do the impossible. I have so much evidence of the fact that God will be able to handle whatever comes my way. Once I remind myself of the amazing things God has done, fear no longer has any control over my decision process. My goals is to default to counting my blessings each and every time I feel afraid.
Visualizing my dreams vs. my fears //
I’ve changed my daily routine (more on that later this week) and now I aim to spend some time each and every morning visualizing my dreams and goals. I imagine myself running my own business. I imagine raising my children and seeing them graduate and start families of their own. I imagine seeing my brothers realize their own dreams and I see my parents in a peaceful and stress-free retirement. I imagine Quentin and I traveling the world and being active in our community here in Harlem and in communities abroad. When I start the day visualizing what I want for my life, there’s no room for fear to enter my mind. The only thing I can think about is how motivated I am to make all my dreams come true.
I’m monitoring my progress for the rest of this year and praying that God continues to get me to a place where fear isn’t deciding what I do and don’t do. I want to “feel the fear and do it anyway,” as Siobhan quoted in her interview. While I haven’t received any professional counseling, it’s something I believe in and would feel comfortable doing if my family and I decided that was best for me. I’ve lived in fear for too long. I will no longer allow fear to paralyze me and prevent me from gaining momentum in my life. And if you’re struggling with fear, I pray that you will overcome that fear too and start to practice fearlessness instead.
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