Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Nothing to Fear

            The topic of fear could be considered from many different perspectives.  In this article I would like to focus on simply identifying it.  
            Some fear is legitimate.  For example, when harm or danger is sensed, fear helps to spring the body into corrective action.  Feeling fear is not always a bad thing.  But just the mention of the word "fear" itself strikes fear in the hearts of some people.  Some people struggle with excessive amounts and intensities of fear.  But the common ordinary fears that most people face on a daily basis can be managed or corrected for a better quality of life.
            There is a famous quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt that says, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  I believe that irrational fears can be conquered and replaced with peace of mind and heart.  In order to feel a greater sense of peace and calm in your life, it is necessary to identify the root cause(s) and apply root solutions to these causes.  If you are willing to face the pains and deal with the roots, there truly is nothing to fear about fear. 
            Psychologist Susan Jeffers in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway shares that fear is not the problem as much as how we hold fear.  We hold on to painful feelings and become trapped.  Jeffers explains a way to identify fear by contrasting feelings on a pain vs. power chart.  Feelings of pain consist of helplessness, depression, and paralysis while feelings of power create power, energy, and action.  For example, "I can't" are words spoken from a position of helplessness, while "I won't" speaks of an ability to choose.  Allowing your inner thoughts to dwell on "Life is a struggle"  instead of "Life is an adventure" keeps you focused on difficulties instead of opportunities.   Dwelling on "if only" creates paralysis, while exploring "next time" helps you take action in a different direction.  All unhealthy fear in your life is identified by some version of "I can't handle it."  Fears says that somehow, something, or someone will create unbearable pain for you.   
            In a book called The Life Model by James Friesen and other authors, they discuss relationships in reference to fear bonds vs. love bonds.  Fear bonds are characterized by humiliation, desperation, shame, guilt, and/or fear of rejection, abandonment, or other detrimental consequences while love bonds are characterized by truth, closeness, intimacy, joy, peace, perseverance and authentic giving.  Fear bonds may require deceit and pretending while love bonds pervade in disclosure and truthfulness.  A fear bond is avoidance driven (bonding because you want to avoid negative feelings or pain), while the love bond is desire driven (bonding because you want the best for the person).  Being honest with yourself about your true motives is something only you can do to identify pain and fear in your interactions with other people.
            An acronym for FEAR states, False Evidence Appearing Real.  The human mind is a powerful thing.  What the mind perceives to be true will become real in one way or another.  All falsehood is rooted in fear to some degree.  All unwarranted fear is based on falsehood in some measure.  Believing lies keeps a person in pain, brokenness, and fear.  Choosing power over pain, choosing brightness over brokenness, and choosing truth over falsehood may require some painful honesty and humility of heart before things get better. The process is similar to the need to clean an infected wound before the dressing for healing can be applied.  The lasting advantages in overcoming fear makes it worth the effort. 
            So allow yourself to discover your fears.  What is your heart sensing?  What is your mind thinking?  Here is a list of negative feelings and beliefs that are connected to fear:  afraid, agitated, anxious, cowardly, desperate, doomed, dreadful, dying, hysterical, indecisive, jealous, nervous, paranoid, panic, scared, suspicious, tentative, tense, terrified, tormented,  untrusting, and worried.  Perhaps more subtle, but fear responses may also include these feelings:  confused, cornered, crazy, defenseless, devastated, doubtful, embarrassed, exposed, humiliated, incompetent, intimidated, oppressed, rejected, tense, trapped, and weak.  Feeling these and many more like them does not have to create helplessness, depression, or paralysis in your  work, recreation, or relationships.
            What feelings in this list do you feel the strongest?  Is there a consistent pattern to when you feel them?  In what situation?  Around what person(s)?   These are common feelings.  They often have just enough of a hint of rationality mixed with the irrational to make you think you are receiving some benefit by holding on to them.  Don't be fooled.  Find out how to let go of your fear.  If fear hasn't influenced you to stop reading this article before this point, congratulations!  You're already making progress.  I have written posts on the blog site that help you with pursuing root solutions to root problems, but next time I will discuss more of how to find lasting peace and joy in place of fear.  

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at 
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

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