The Fear Spiral

Dear Friends,

I know, a lot of people did not enjoy the New Year as much as usual this time around. No matter how much you call each January 1 a “fresh start” or a “new opportunity,” the promise of 2012 just doesn’t shine as brightly as what we are used to. The US economy has been drifting toward trouble for some time. It now seems to be teetering at the edge of the falls, and our leaders appear more interested in fighting each other than in working together to sort out our problems. It all seems out of control.

You might say that our confidence has been shaken.

If so, it doesn’t need to be that way.
Here's the book... I bet it will encourage you!
Last fall I studied through A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, led by my blogger friend Ashley. In this book Swope offers some pretty keen insights on why our confidence might falter. I highly recommend reading it when you have time. Meanwhile, I’d like to share some of the quotes and notes I recorded while studying a section on “fear” in Chapter 10.

Swope recalls that she used to be afraid to go to sleep when her husband was out of town. Even after praying for safety, she would gather things around her to help her feel safe. Like any of us might do. One night she even brought the children into her room and then put the dresser in front of the bedroom door. She writes,

I thought I was controlling my circumstances, but instead fear had taken control of me. … That night God helped me see that my fears were like flames and my efforts to protect myself were like gasoline.

It sounded like a spiral of increasing fear. As I thought about her words, I could see how that had worked on me in the past. Every effort at self-protection served to validate my fear. That is, I was telling myself, “There is good reason to be afraid.”

I was telling myself, “God won’t take care of you.”

Swope gained that insight after reading Isaiah, chapter 43, verses 1 and 2 (God speaking): “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. … When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…”

She remembered, as the apostle Paul reminded Timothy, that God had not given her a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, chapter 1, verse 7).

Swope realized that the only way to overcome her fears was to walk through them. She concludes, “I would have to put away my props and to go bed trusting God and not myself, knowing that even if my fears came true He would be with me.

Even those of us who have trusted in Christ for eternal life may miss that last key phrase. I know I tend to fear because I cannot be sure that nothing unpleasant will happen.

But “faith” doesn’t mean believing that nothing unpleasant will happen. As near as I can figure, real faith trusts God even when we get hurt, or fired, or… whatever. He knows where we are and he cares.

By the way, Swope adds that (paraphrasing here) when she put the furniture, the children and her faith back where they belonged… she slept better than she had in weeks.

Next: Why my brother-in-law says that fear is obsolete. And why he’s right.

Meanwhile, I am linking up with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria sisters. Come see how Jen gathered her courage… and the exciting results!
Also, with the Company Girls for a visit with Rachel Anne and her ever-impish donkey, Flash.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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18 Responses to The Fear Spiral

  1. Jen says:

    I used to dread (and sometimes I still catch myself doing it) the great unknown “bad things” that could happen. When I feel my heart drifting into that state of fear, I have to remind myself that He will never leave me. No matter what happens on earth, He is bigger. Great post, Jan!

    Like

    • Jan says:

      Ah, that free-floating fear of things that *could* happen! You’re right; He IS bigger. Thanks for stopping by! October can’t get here too soon… Jan

      Like

  2. Jan,
    How well you put power of fear in its place by using the power we have in us and that is faith. We just don’t put it to work in our life enough, and that makes fear come in and take over.
    I work on this each day, and make the choice each day to serve my God and He gives to me a Faith that keeps everything together.
    Thanks Jan
    Love You,
    Mom

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  3. Renee says:

    Fear is such a relentless enemy. It always finds a way to come back at you. Thanks for sharing these great quotes. Blessings!

    Like

  4. Kathy Falley says:

    Peace is attainable,being Christlike will change hearts and we will embrace our first LOVE,Jesus Christ. Go and be a light for him! Love you,Kath

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  5. “I know I tend to fear because I cannot be sure that nothing unpleasant will happen. ” I love this line…I think it is critical to why I fear. I want life to pleasant all the time. And yet, isn’t interesting how the anxiety of “what could happen” takes away from the pleasant now? I need to write this book down on my to-read list. Thanks for sharing this great insight.

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    • Jan says:

      Wow, I hadn’t thought of that angle — that anxiety about losing the “pleasant now” keeps us from enjoying it while we have it! Excellent point.
      Thanks for the comment,
      Jan

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  6. Liz Mason says:

    This was a great post. I sometimes wonder why and how fear just kind of sneaks up without warning sometimes. I’ve come to know that the only way to be free of fear and have true peace is to trust God. He often reminds me that His plans for my life are good and not to bring me harm. In this journey I’ve come to realize that the one thing that really helps relieve my fears is the Word of God. I think my eyes were opened when I read that, “Perfect love drives out fear.” His word is so good and so powerful. It gives me a safe place to go, where I can find rest.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Angie says:

    Good stuff! I will have to reread it again to really let it sink it. Thanks.

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  8. Katharine says:

    Fear can be paralyzing. I remember the day I woke up and realized that for the first time ever I was not afraid! So many things changed when I realized that fear had been at the root of the things I did. It is perfect love that removes it, and trusting that no matter what we face… God is walking with us through it!
    Thanks for a great post!
    Katharine

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  9. Pingback: Why Fear is Obsolete | Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story

  10. vesselofgod says:

    Fear and control go hand in hand – I realised that I was a control freak because I was too afraid that things wouldn’t turn out the way I expected/needed them too. Control gave mme a feeling of safety and protection albeit a false one, I became trapped behind the fortified walls I had built for myself. God is slowly breaking down that wall but I have to be honest, I feel soooooooo exposed but this time I’m allowing God to do the controlling because I’ve seen where it has gotten me before… nowhere but sickness.

    Like

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