Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fear Itself

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

We've all heard it.  We've grown up with it (at least, those of us who are older than thirty).  Somehow the notion that fear is bad, negative, to be avoided has sunk into our collective consciousness.  If you feel afraid, be brave, push through, overcome.

This is an appropriate response in many cases, of course.  But it's also inappropriate in other cases.  A truth a dear friend taught me several years back.  The conversation went something like this:

"I'm afraid," I told my small group as I wept before them.

"Why?" another woman in the group asked.

"Because it's scary," came the response, not from me.  Our fearless leader, the female pastor at my church in Los Angeles, looked at me with tenderness in her eyes and said, "Jenny, of course you're afraid.  This new venture has risks, it's scary.  You would be a fool not to fear, to ignore the realities of those risks.  Faith isn't the absence of fear; faith is found in our response to it.  Don't spend your energies trying to will away your fear.  Spend yourself on fixing your eyes on where God has called you and moving toward it with His hand in yours."

It's okay to be afraid. 

I've been thinking about this lately as I've processed with a dear friend who is thinking through some next steps.  Fear doesn't necessarily mean you're on the wrong track (I think some of us believe that, if we're afraid - if we don't have peace, then we're outside of God's will).  In fact, sometimes fear means you're right where you're supposed to be.  Path less traveled and all that.

One last thought before I sign off: this week I instituted Bible verse memorization in our home.  I can't believe it's already that time, but something in my mommy-gut tells me it is.  Gunnar turns three on Friday, and it's time to let the Word sink into him through memorization.

Where did we start?  "There is a time for everything...." (Ecc. 3:1, NIV).  I'm trying to teach him that it's okay to bang things when we're pretend-playing the drums, for instance, but not when we're at the table, stuff like that.  We'll get to the deeper stuff, I'm sure, but we're starting with the practical, tangible, understandable places in his little world. 

The coolest part?  As I remind him, I am reminded.  "There is a time for everything...."  Including fear, courage, despair, hope, suffering, rejoicing.  As I think through all of the issues we're dealing with in our little four-member fam, I think about this and am comforted.  We won't be where we are forever.  This simultaneously gives me a reason to cherish every moment and look forward to the next ones.  Thank you, God, for such a hope.

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria again today.  Enjoy!


  1. Did you know that Natalie and I have been having this whole conversation about fear? I think the main point is that we don't operate out of our fear -- that we do exactly as this pastor said: Fix our eyes on Jesus and not our fear. There is a reason that we were created to feel fear, but at the same time, not to be fearful, especially when we are following God. Does this make any sense? My head is starting to hurt...

  2. I need this perspective today. I think like any other emotion fear is to be experienced...in a variety of ways. And to think...it is okay to be fearful for a time...it is normal and we learn and grow from it...and He teaches us and guides us in it.

  3. I have been in a state of fear about the future of my family's life. Thank you for sharing this. To embrace the fear and rely on God. There is truly a time for everything.

  4. Finally getting around to all of the cool blogs listed at Jen's. I love your line about reminding our children actually helps us remember. So true.

  5. I've never heard anyone say it's okay to have fear. I love that you were given permission to fear, but to allow the fear to take you to God and His hand. Good thoughts.

  6. "Fear doesn't necessarily mean you're on the wrong track..." I needed to hear that. Making big decisions in my own life lately, and I so easily succumb to fears and doubts. This was so encouraging!