We're all afraid of something. The dark. Being alone. Death. Bad guys. Jellyfish. Okay, that last one was random, but still. I remember being afraid of jellyfish when I was little.
The fact is, everyone you know or see is afraid of something, even if they don't show it. Some of the bravest people we know become frozen in fear when faced with the thing that scares them the most.
I am someone who struggles with anxiety-- basically, misplaced fear. It can happen in spasms. Sometimes, I'll be working on something and a thought will enter my mind. It could be a thought that isn't pure, and I become panicked that I'd ever think something like that. Then it becomes stuck, and I wind up terrified that I'm a horrible person and a very bad sinner because I have a bad thought stuck in my mind.
Sometimes the anxiety builds up and takes a while to surface. It can be little jokes that people send my way that pierce me and I don't even realize it. It can be comments about my interests and teasing from friends and family about the things I like and how I obsess over the things I like. It can be a derogatory comment that stays in the back of my mind for months on end before it surfaces and I find myself in a panic, wondering what's wrong with me and why I'm the way I am.
Fear, or, anxiety, is an awful thing to struggle with. It is scary. Sometimes you'll be walking along and all of a sudden you're heart begins to race and you can't think past what's inside your head. You can't tear yourself away from what the devil is whispering in your ear.
For the most part, the places I struggle with the most in fear is what people think about me and if there is something abnormally wrong with me. I'm a very outgoing person. I'm also a writer, so I tend to have a lot of the oddities that come along with people that have big imaginations. Weird dreams, strange ideas, characters that I'm always pretending I am, dressing up like my characters and doing tons of research on everything to do with whatever era I'm working on or the culture my characters come from, etc. etc. etc.
Put those two things together... and I become the writer who talks a ton about anything I'm working on, what I'm currently phasing through and everything I love about whatever subject I'm studying. Which means I'm telling just about everybody I meet everything about myself and all the cool things in my life and all the things I love. Very self focused, which is not a good thing. More on that later...
This opens the door for some fun bantering between my friends and family. They like to tease me when I'm going crazy about something. "Oh, you know Emily, always talking about the Cossacks." "Is Imperial history the only thing you think about?" "I think Emily wishes she was born a Russian." And so on. It also opens the door to my fear-- my fear of what people think of me and my fear of something being wrong with me.
This brings me to the point of this post-- what do we do with fear if we're not sure if it's true or if we don't know how to get rid of it?
My mother has always been my spiritual mentor. Last year I went through a period of pretty awful anxiety attacks-- to the point I didn't want to leave my home or interact with anyone outside of my home. She took me aside and gave me some Bible verses to ponder and memorize. She told me they were in the Bible for a reason. I want to share a couple of them with you:
What can we gather from these Bible verses?
1. God is there.
2. Through His promises, we can be assured He knows what he is doing.
3. When we are afraid, give thanks for what is in our lives and oftentimes the fear will go away.
4. Have faith! God knows all, sees all, and He's got everything under control, even if it doesn't feel that way!
Fear is a symptom of a cause. Fear means there is something missing. That something is faith. My fears run into a bit more of the spiritual sense because I'm fearful of things being wrong with me. My fear shows me there are a couple things lacking in my life:
I am not confident of where God has put me in my life and how He's made me.
I am fearful because I'm afraid of what others think of me, which means I'm not thinking about others and I'm focused on myself. This leads me to conclude that what my fear is caused by is too much self centered-ness and how I feel.
I am afraid that there's something wrong with me. Again, I've got all the focus on myself. Even if there was something strange and weird about me, even if I am teased for being abnormal and obsessive over all my interests, I need to be content with how God created and made me. He made me love the things I love (barring anything bad that I may happen to like, of course. Which is not the case, I'm just clarifying that God does not create the love of bad things) He created me to be a friendly, outgoing person for a reason. I need to be comfortable with what God has made me into. I need not to fear myself. I should be asking myself these two questions every time I wonder if I'm strange and weird or if my latest craze is something abnormal about me: 1) is this sinful/ am I sinning doing whatever this is I like? 2) is this causing others to sin?
If the answer is no to both those questions, than I can safely assure myself that it's not something to freak out about, and I just need to moderate how much time I spend on all the things I like.
From these Bible verses we can come to a conclusion on one simple thing: No matter what we're afraid of, fear is like we're saying to God that we don't trust Him. Does that mean God condemns us for having fear and anxiety? No, He just wants us to take our fears and anxiety to him so he can take them away. Fear is terrible. Fear is not fun. He doesn't want us to live in Fear. He wants us to trust Him and let him take care of it for us.
In concluding this post, I'd like to close with this: the things I fear are things that can be changed.
So, I am afraid of what others think about me or how people tease me about my interests? Well, shouldn't I be focused on them in the first place and not on myself? Perhaps if I didn't talk and talk and talk about everything I love, people wouldn't get tired of hearing about it and tease me about it. Perhaps I should talk more about them and their interests, and then I wouldn't wind up in a fret one day because I think everyone is judging me. Even if they were, who cares if someone teases you for being strange? If it offends me that much, then perhaps I should examine why.
For me, I don't want people to think I'm strange because I want them to like me. That means I'm turning into something about me, and I'm not focusing on what's most important: I should be putting my focus on God and others, not myself. A lot of the jokes I receive are from friends who are just trying to gently show me I'm going down my usual path of obsessive behavior. If I start noticing a pattern were a lot of people comment or tease me about a certain subject, I should take it into consideration that if everyone's starting to notice it, then that means I'm talking far too much about it. If I'm talking too much about it, then that means I'm not focusing on others, I'm focusing on myself and what I like.
Self + Interests + Blabbering + Friendly Teasing + Over-thinking = stress, anxiety and fear.
This leads me to realize that what I fear has no basis. Instead of fretting and panicking over what's wrong with me, I can take my fears to God, sit back, examine why these things are occurring, then start afresh and get on a new path. I have no reason to fear. I have God. And as long as I have God, there is no need for anxiety. Even if I do find out I've been in sin, I can pray to God and confess my sins. He wipes them away and lets me start new. He forgives me. I don't have to fear I'm not forgiven! He told me I am forgiven!
Fear is a snare. Fear isn't fun. If you are struggling with fear or anxiety today, no matter what the reason, take it to God. He's there to listen to you. He's there to redirect your thoughts and show you that He has everything under control. He's there to call attention to the areas of neglect or waywardness you have in your life, so He can forgive you and give you a fresh start.
No matter what it is, God's there to help you get through it. So take it to Him. You won't regret it.
I need to print this out and put it next to my bed. I need to remember this when I start getting anxiety and I can't sleep! :D