Facing Fear

Unlike many of my acquaintances who strive to hide their fears behind useless excuses or clenched teeth, I prefer to get mine out in the open. Anyone who has been in the car with me knows I am terrified of getting into an accident. My seat-mates on the plane can’t miss the way that I grip the armrests and close my eyes during landing, unwilling to watch myself spiral down towards death. And my friends can all describe the trepidation with which I view snakes, dogs, horses, spiders, mice, and all things creepy, crawly, or furry. Let’s face it: I’m petrified of nearly everything.

Let’s face it: I’m petrified of nearly everything…

The reality is, I’m not sure whether I’m actually afraid of more things than normal people, or if everyone else is just more fearful of vulnerability than their other anxieties. Either way, fear is not an easy taskmaster. It squeezes every ounce of fun from sensitive situations and bullies its victims into enduring all sorts of unpleasantness and embarrassment. 

Recently, I’ve come to a realization: I hate living with fear. I’m tired of the way it dominates me, and I’m ready to find the freedom that comes from letting go. And so, being the impulsive person that I am, I decided to face my fear head on. Just outside my bedroom window is a beautiful swimming pool. The water is clean and warm and smells ever-so-slightly of salt and chlorine. It’s honestly a dream come true, and there’s nothing about it not to like — except that I’m afraid of water. Even a drop of water splashing on my face makes me gasp for air, and, the moment I realize I’ve gone past the shallow and my feet can’t touch the bottom, panic overflows my heart in the form of violent limb-thrashing to keep my head above water. It’s mortifying, really, and certainly not what I call fun!

But, this week, I’ve faced my fear of water. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not going to drown in a swimming pool with my husband next to me. I’ve chosen to believe that water could be fun if only I would let it. Practically, these thought patterns have led me to jump into the deep end with my nose plugged, swim out to the middle and practice treading water, and count to five while breathing out through my nose underwater. I know this all sounds like child’s play to the vast majority of you, but to me it all seems quite dramatic. The crazy thing is, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! Now I find myself rushing out to the pool every time I see the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. I can’t get enough of that warm, salty water and the exercise is exhilarating. 

So often, the very thing we are afraid of could be the best for us if we could only see from the other side.

That’s the funny thing about fear — it fools its victims into believing that the object of their fear is a horrible monster that must be avoided at all costs, but so often it is just the opposite. So often, the very thing we are afraid of could be the best for us if we could only see from the other side. 

The truth is, fear comes from the enemy of everything that is good and hopeful. Time and again, the Bible promises that we never need to fear anything or anyone, because God is always with us. The Psalmist contends, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear” (Psalm 118:6 NKJV), and Jesus Himself pleaded “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Mark 5:36 NKJV).

So what are you afraid of? What are those things that grip your heart with terror, those monsters you can’t seem to face? I challenge you to face your fear head on. Fight it with promises from the Word of God and revel in the freedom that fear can never bring you!

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