I have a confession to make.
I’m a scaredy-cat.
What’s worse, I tend to let my fears influence my actions and decisions.
I’m tired of it, though. Especially since I that, as a Christian, I do not have to live in fear. My God is bigger than the Boogeyman, after all.
The other day, I decided I would write out a list of all the things I could think of that scare me. I came up with at least a couple dozen, then thought of more last night when I was thinking I should write a post about this. I’m afraid of big dogs; walking outside in the dark alone; of letting myself be vulnerable, even with my husband. I’m afraid of speaking up in case I’m wrong, or in case I say something embarrassing. I’m afraid of talking to certain people about Christ, in case I mislead them. I’m afraid of making people mad at me. And the list goes on and on. Now, some fears are good; they keep up safe. For example, we probably should be afraid of certain snakes and spiders, or of big dogs off leashes that are growling at us, etc. But most of my fears are not this good keeps-me-safe-from-physical-harm fear.
We’ve probably all heard, or at least recognize, this verse:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim, 1:7)
I decided, when I was writing that list, that I should read each item off the list with this verse. “I do not have to be afraid of ______ because God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. I guess I should also confess that while I did start (even at the risk of sounding loopy in front of the kids), I didn’t get through the list entirely. Motherhood duties called, and I haven’t gotten back to it yet.
I don’t want to live in fear. I don’t want to feel anxious every time I’m pushing the big double stroller down the sidewalk, then have someone else come from the other direction, and worry should I get off the sidewalk to make room? Or will they? Will they be annoyed that I didn’t make room for them? (Yes..I know..it’s sad.)
All of this thinking about fear has made me wonder, why am I afraid of so many things?
Some of it has to do with past experiences. Like the time when I was about 7 and walking alone, and suddenly there was a huge Doberman off a chain growling at me. Other things have to do with the unknown, like being afraid when my husband is running late and I worry that something has happened to him on the road.
But I think most of my fears have stemmed from low self-confidence and low self-esteem. I was teased a lot all through school (even in college I heard people talking literally behind my back..I guess they should have waited til I was a bit farther ahead of them) and I think that’s a big reason why I’m afraid of embarrassing myself. I’m afraid of giving people a reason to talk about me in a negative way.
Growing up I did very well in school for the most part, so I think there were higher expectations put on me. If I suddenly got a C, I was asked why it wasn’t an A or B. If my brother, who didn’t enjoy school, got a C, he was praised that it wasn’t a D. I know my father didn’t intend to discourage me; in fact, he was probably trying to encourage me to try harder. And I think part of how it came out comes from how men and women think differently, as well. But I always had a tendency to focus on the negative, and I would let comments like that eat away at me. Because I felt like I wasn’t meeting expectations, I think I developed a fear of not being good enough because I hate disappointing people.
Don’t get me wrong, I know my dad loves me, and I know he’s proud of me, both now and then.
So, how do I stop being so fearful? I need to start training myself to reject the lies. I am good enough. Even if I say something stupid, I am not stupid. Even if I don’t have an answer when talking to someone about Christ, I am still called to preach the gospel. Even if I’m afraid of how someone might react if I let myself by vulnerable and open up to them, I need to know that it’s God’s opinion that matters most.
Easier said than done. I know. I am the queen of chickening out of doing things I’m afraid to do. I am the master of making up excuses as to why doing such and such just wasn’t possible.
But can I lay down my fears before God? Of course I can! Will I overcome them? In time. Will it be easy? Heck, no. But possible? Yes!