You’re lying in bed, late at night. Tap. Tap. Tap. The sound emanates from somewhere outside. The doors are locked, deadbolts in place. Still you can’t sleep as you wonder…
Irrational fear. Most of us have dealt with some form of unfounded fear in our lives. As I began my research, I looked up the definition of irrational in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Not endowed with reason or understanding; lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence; not governed by or according to reason.
This definition makes sense. So much of the fear I’ve dealt with in my life has no reason behind it. I remember as a child being afraid to put my feet on the floor at night. Why? The monster under the bed.
And being afraid to turn my back to an open doorway while I slept? Again, the monster under the bed.
By the time I’d reached adulthood, the monster had grown. My fears had spread to crossing bridges, driving at night, and staying by myself at night. When my husband began working the night shift, fear would attack me so bad sometimes I would turn on all the lights and read my Bible out loud until I fell asleep.
Do you know what the funny thing about it all was? No one knew. Outwardly, people perceived me as shy and quiet. They didn’t realize a lot of the time, I was terrified.
When I reached my thirties, I started a new church and found a genre of books new to me. Christian non-fiction. There were books out there on fear. I wasn’t alone. I discovered fears that are hidden, ones in the darkness, aren’t easily resolved. As I started confiding in trusted friends what I was dealing with, bringing the fear to light, my life began to turn around. Then I read a small booklet by Joyce Meyer called “Do it Afraid.” The premise was that we all deal with fears, but with the help of God, we can step out and do it afraid. It didn’t matter if I was shaking, trembling, or ready to run. The fears in my mind were irrational.
A day of breakthrough came when a friend and I were asked to sing at a countywide prayer meeting. I had started singing in front of the small congregation at church, but this was a crowd of over 200 people. During the song, my friend froze and God enabled me to pick up on her part until she joined in again. I had sung in front of a large crowd, doing it afraid.
The next day, I drove to a nearby city to do some shopping and was actually halfway over the long bridge I had to cross when I realized I wasn’t afraid. Normally I would be gripping the steering wheel, telling myself it wouldn’t fall down, but this day I didn’t even notice. When I did, I still wasn’t afraid. The rest of the week brought new revelations of other fears that just weren’t there anymore. My gratitude overflowed as I enjoyed my new found freedom.
Were all my fears gone? No. But I found scriptures to help me like 1 John 4:18
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” NKJV
And II Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” NKJV
My fears tormented me. They were irrational. As I learned about the perfect love that God had for me and believed it, more fears fell by the way. I looked back at fears from the past and wondered how I could have been bothered by them.
A large part of my deliverance from fears took place as I delved into my past. When I was eight years old, my father, who’d been sick for two years, almost died. He pulled through, but was left in a wheelchair and we had to move closer to family. Mother said I changed from a happy, bubbly child to a quiet, shy one. I’ve traced my fears back to this time, the root being the fear of the unknown. As a child, I couldn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t want to add to Mother’s load of taking care of my dad, so I internalized it all. It erupted in spurts of fear. As long as it was hidden, it had control of my life.
Jesus said to bring all my burdens and cares to Him, that His yoke was easy. I found that to be true. I still occasionally fight fear when my husband works nights and timidity pops up at the weirdest times. But I keep holding on to Jesus and living life in spite of my fear.
I looked up the definition of rational: based on facts or reason and not on emotions or feelings; having the ability to reason or think about things clearly.
I now turn to the word of God, not my feelings and life is clearer. I drive at night, cross bridges, stay by myself when I have to and much more. I drove by myself to Atlanta two years ago, a four-hour trip on the interstate. And yes, interstate driving was another fear. I was anxious, but I did it afraid. God is faithful. One great thing about God is He is no respecter of persons. If you have fear, He can help you just like He helped me. It’s an ongoing process and you have to step out afraid often. But it’s worth the journey.
Go ahead. Look under the bed. Confront the monster. It’s your turn to take your first step toward freedom…
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Writing Prompt: You are walking through the mall, late at night, on your shift as a night watchman. You’ve forgotten any form of protection except your flashlight. You can’t get rid of the feeling that someone is following you. You take off running, jump on the escalator, then look behind you. What do you see?