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Facing Your Fears: Part 2

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Facing Your Fears

Part 2

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When I am troubled by fear, I often struggle with feeling like no one else around me has the same difficulties. For example, I can remember one occasion after a relationship had ended badly, when I was very afraid of losing other relationships that were important to me. When my life is at a low point, I usually feel like no one else ever has similar worries.

It’s true that in daily life, the people that we see at school, work or church usually appear to be calm and confident. On the surface, it’s easy to assume that none of them is dealing with problems like fear. Over time though, as I’ve gained more experience dealing with my own fears, I’ve learned that many others experience similar problems.

Since we all come in contact with fearful emotions at some level, it’s helpful to share what we’ve learned through them to strengthen one another. In a previous article, I wrote about tools for facing life’s more commonly experienced fears. In this article, we will look at several additional tools that can be utilized to deal with even deeper and more impactful fears that present a much greater challenge to overcome.

Focus on learning about your feelings

Even though fear is a natural emotion, it is inherently uncomfortable. When you struggle with fears that aren’t quickly resolved, it’s easy to be self-critical for having those feelings to begin with.

While this tendency is normal, it isn’t helpful or productive. Your feelings and emotions simply are what they are, whether good or bad. It’s how you respond to them that matters. Telling yourself not to feel a certain way rarely changes the underlying emotion. In fact, it often just increases the intensity of the original feeling, leaving you frustrated and unsure of what to do next.

A simple and helpful step to take is to pray for understanding (James 5:13 James 5:13Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
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). Ask God to help you learn about why you’re having the feelings that you are. The knowledge of what’s causing your feelings will enable you to begin responding to them in a way much more likely to produce positive results. Beyond this first step, consider the following additional steps for dealing with feelings of fear that remain challenging to understand or overcome.

Counsel with a minister

Ministers within God’s Church have experience assisting people with a wide variety of challenges that impact their spiritual and physical health. They can provide comfort and encouragement with scriptures relevant to what you are facing, and can also discuss whether anointing may be appropriate for your situation.

We often think of anointing only for physical illnesses and injuries; however, at times we need God’s healing power within our hearts and minds as well. As our Creator, God fully understands what’s happening in our hearts, minds and bodies. With this supreme understanding, He is the ultimate Healer!

In the Bible, anointing is recommended for those who are “sick” (James 5:14 James 5:14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
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). In Greek, the word “sick” has the broad implication of weakness—lacking strength in some significant way. Fear and other difficult emotions can certainly drain our energy and weaken multiple aspects of our lives.

There are many proverbs that highlight the connection between our emotions and our overall health such as “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22 Proverbs 17:22A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.
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, New Living Translation). Biblical counseling and anointing (when applicable) are powerful steps that can help provide the strength to overcome fear.

Seek professional advice

Professional counseling is often viewed as a “last resort,” only to be tried if nothing else fixes a problem. However, it would be better viewed as a powerful option to help define problems, and then learn about effective tools for addressing them.

Of course, trained counselors are not a replacement for the spiritual support and healing that only God can provide. However, just like professionals in medical fields, their specialized study and experience give them the capability to offer useful insight and advice.

A counselor with expertise in dealing with emotional challenges like fear can help identify the root causes of what you are feeling. This allows you to focus energy on dealing with specific, relevant issues. Without understanding the problem, we often respond with efforts that are ultimately unproductive.

To pursue counseling, research the options available to you and consult with resources you trust (such as your parents or a trusted mentor) to identify a capable professional for your situation. Pray about it too. Ask God to connect you with the right resource and bless that person with the ability to provide discerning and meaningful support.

Use the trial to grow

During difficult times it is easy to focus solely on wanting the trial to be over, since we all naturally want to avoid discomfort. While this is a normal feeling, it can prevent us from gaining the benefits that come from our challenges!

Though it’s hard for us to accept, some lessons can only be learned through difficulty. Trials change our perspective and our level of understanding in ways that no other experience can. During these times, we often struggle most with the feeling that we are facing it alone.

If you’re struggling with fears that feel like they will never go away . . . wait.

Hold on.

Anchor your mind in God’s promises and don’t let go!

We can be thankful that this is never truly the case, as King David learned. During the many challenges and various forms of fear that he faced, he wrote, “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; you have known my soul in adversities” (Psalms 31:7 Psalms 31:7I will be glad and rejoice in your mercy: for you have considered my trouble; you have known my soul in adversities;
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). God indeed knows our struggles, and He promises both to help us through them and to learn from them.

The next time you’re struggling with fearfulness, try to shift your focus and think about ways that you can grow in personal character through the experience. Beginning to think purposefully about growth often results in substantial progress on the journey of overcoming!

Persevere—time is a healer

The author of Ecclesiastes wrote that there is “a time for every purpose under heaven,” including “a time to break down, and a time to build up” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 Ecclesiastes 3:1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
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, 3). We are called to develop perfect character while living in a world that is filled with imperfection. That development can only take place within a lifelong process where breaking down is a necessary part of building up.

In “Beautiful Girl,” a song by Canadian artist Sarah McLachlan that depicts a mother’s heartfelt message to her struggling daughter, the mother encourages that “when the bitter breeze carries a trace of fear, we’ll persevere somehow,” and ends with the promise, “one thing that I know is it will get better.”

If you’re struggling with fears that feel like they will never go away . . . wait.

Hold on.

Anchor your mind in God’s promises and don’t let go! The active ingredient in every process is time, and the process of developing God’s character is no different. Be assured that eventually, the time for breaking down will end and the time for building up will begin. After you’ve persevered, you’ll be able to say as King David did: “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalms 31:24 Psalms 31:24Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you that hope in the LORD.
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).

If you’re struggling with fears that feel like they will never go away . . . wait.

Hold on.

Anchor your mind in God’s promises and don’t let go!

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