Fear has held me back from many things in my life.
When I was a child my parents enrolled me and my sister in piano classes. We had to study notes, chords, and music theory, and after a few sessions of practice we would have a test. Aside from classroom tests there were recitals where students performed songs by reading sheet music, in front of friends, family, and relatives of classmates. I was so terrified to do my exam for level three that it almost killed my love for playing. I wanted to stop playing piano and begged my parents to take me out of classes. I said I wanted to do something else with my time, but deep down I was too afraid making mistakes, and let the fear of failure keep me back.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Fast forward a decade and a half. I was in a long-term relationship and at the time I was taking a Spanish course at university. I was so excited to speak the language that I considered going on an exchange program and studying in Spain. When I brought the news to my then-boyfriend, he looked crushed that I was leaving. Instead of going through with my dream of traveling, meeting new people, and speaking a language I love, I decided not to apply.
Today, I’m trying to make a platform to share my interests and ideas, and once again I am faced with the stealer of joy, fear. I have so many ideas and things I want to do with my life, but fear tells me I do not have what it takes. Fear tells me if I miss a video or story deadline I’ll lose my audience. Fear tells me I shouldn’t bother trying and give up now, to save myself from the embarrassment of trial and error. Fear tells me I should stay put, be responsible, and not take any risks.
Fear has been seeping deep into my heart for years. Thoughts come into my mind like, what am I doing with my life, where am I going, have I accomplished anything at all, why am I so behind when so many other people are reaching their dreams, why am I still in the same place, maybe my dreams weren’t meant for me… and so on. It’s a terrible head space to be and it seems a daily battle to fight these dark thoughts that have been and will continue to steal my joy.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, and probably the rest of North America. Almost everyone I know has battled worry, fear, uncertainty, or anxiety at some point. It’s obvious that fear is stealing our joy and preventing us from living full, happy, and grateful lives. But we don’t have to let it control us.
We must find freedom out of fear. One thing that has helped me is focusing on positive truths about my value as a person, my abilities to reach my goals, and the dream of who and where I want to be someday. It has also helped me to meditate on key scriptures that talk about fear, and soaking in the words of peace that accompany them.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
The Creator of the Universe is on my side. He watches over me, guiding me through the hills and valleys of life. I sometimes forget to acknowledge Him when my goals are reached, and when things are going well. I forget to turn to Him when I’m struggling, and welcome His free gifts of love, acceptance, and mercy. I forget that He is the ultimate source of wisdom and peace. When I am fearful, my eyes are focused on my problems, but when I let go and start looking at Him, everything else doesn’t seem so bad. I can face a new day with hope that all things work out for good. I can trust God to take me to the place where I can be the most purposeful. Resting in Jesus’ love has brought me peace in moments of worrying, but only when I truly let go and surrender my fears into His capable hands.
Once fear is gone, you can see life for what it really is, you can be prepared to spot bright opportunities, and you can be grateful in all of life’s circumstances. You can embrace each day as if it were a gift, and be free from the dark cloud of anxiety over the things you cannot control. This is what I found in my relationship with God, and whether that is for you or not, it is important to take some quiet time, maybe somewhere in nature, and think about the opportunities fear holds you back from. Is it a relationship? A job opportunity? A big career move? A desire to improve your health? A call to serve outside of your comfort zone?
Whatever life has in store for you, look at it is an opportunity to grow and know that you have achieved an amazing lesson learned, even if you fail. Keep pressing onward towards the goal, never stop trying, and when the voice of fear whispers discouraging lies, put on a good song and tune it out.