Facing Fears Productively – Part 2 an exercise

If we are allowing fears to control our lives, they are stunting us. They keep us from living God’s reality for us.

And we keep fearing, even realizing if we think about it that most fears are never realized, and wasting a tremendous amount of time that could have been productive. Some of us get so paralyzed by our fears that we stop doing what we should be doing, get panic attacks or just stop stretching ourselves with new experiences.

The more we think on, focus on, the fear – the bigger it grows. The walls get higher and the gates seem formidable. One thing we know. This is NOT the way we want to live our life, hiding, worrying, scared of the outcome of a day or an event. It has been said that thoughts become words, words become actions, and actions become habit. The danger of thinking about the fear constantly, saying what you fear so often that it becomes action (you say “I can’t do that” not because you know you can’t but because you fear that you won’t do it well), is you are likely to develop a habit of responding that you can’t before evaluating almost any situation.

You can overcome that by memorizing verses like Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

One thing that has helped me overcome many fears is to keep a fear journal. In a simple notebook at the top of the page I wrote the verse – and the words Fear is NOT from God.

I draw four vertical lines for columns. At the top of the columns I write Date, Fear, Good/WICD (for What I can do), and Outcome. When I experience a fear I write down the date and the fear. At the end of each month, or less if I fear I can’t remember that longJ, I will go back and write the outcome. An example:

I am asked to teach a Sunday School class. The fear might be to teach, to fail, to interact with adults or with parents, a lack of what I consider appropriate clothing, an already busy schedule, etc.   The good, on one hand, could be that someone in ministry recognizes a quality or skill God can work through me in that area, or on the other hand, the strength to say no – perhaps recognizing I was asked because I usually say yes, and this need is not my call.

 

Date Fear Good/WICD Outcome
2/22/02 Teach SS Class Skill/strength? Ask why I was asked.

Attend teaching class

Practice on my kids

Go to goodwill

Remake my clothing

Say no

Taught adult classes on Psalm 23 and Song of Solomon

 

At the end of the month, or time period I’ve chosen, I’d enter what really happened. The possibilities are endless: learned to teach and love it, found I’d rather be an assistant, found a suitable outfit for few dollars, prayed about need and God supplied, remade an outfit and rediscovered sewing – signed up for Missions to sew baby layettes instead of teaching, and on and on.

 

Yes, I do look at what I can do (WICD). Like Moses, God has given me things, gifts and talents, which in my own strength are weak or useless, but with His strength can become a solution. Often God will give me ideas, wisdom, or contacts that strengthen, support, or provide a need, and dissolve the fear. These experiences of God working and resolving issues, conquering concerns also give me faith to trust Him with the fears and ask besides what God can do, and what He has done for me and for others with similar fears in the past. It affirms that if God could do (those things) in the past, He can still do them today, for He never changes.

It is always amazing to me that hardly any of the fears actually came to pass, and the few that did came with strength and support to not just survive, but overcome it.

Keeping this journal brings a bonus because despite knowing that life will keep bringing new fears like the recession, swine flu, and America’s creditors taking over our country, looking to past journal entries reminds me that God is bigger than any of my fears.

 

Is there someone fearful about their future or our country’s future that you can encourage to make a fear journal?  If you haven’t done this, I hope you would give it a try and check back in a week or a month and share the results.  Or – Is there someone fearful about their future or our country’s future that you can encourage to make a fear journal?

 

 

 

 

 

Only he who can say, ”The Lord is my strength,” can say, ”Of whom shall I be afraid?”       Alexander Maclaren        1826-1910, British Preacher

 

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