overcoming fearHOW I OVERCAME MY FEAR. This is the first part of a two-part series on God’s solutions to overcoming fear. 

The trouble began when I got the promotion. Me, the new managing editor of a health and food magazine. My supervisor Sally, the new executive editor.

I waltzed into the art department on promotion day, scanned the next month’s magazine cover, and complimented the art director on his good work. Sally steel-stared my way. She snarled something in my direction, I forgot what, but I remember her angry tone.

Hurt, confused. . .on edge–these described my emotions.

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Freaky Fear

Three long hours of worry later, I rushed to the parking lot and away from Sally’s dagger glances. Revving the motor of my blue hatchback, I zoomed toward the six-lane highway that would take me home: a cozy Cape Cod in the burbs and a refuge for my husband Steve and me.

At sixty miles per hour, I exhaled and began planning a promotion celebration dinner – deep-dish pizza, his half with sausage, my half veggies – and tried, triedTRIED to push Sally’s strange behavior out of my thoughts.

But as my tiny car neared the “Split,” where one half of the highway veers north, the other half south, my body reveal my inner turmoil and fear.

My heart beat double-time.

Sweat beaded my forehead.

My knees felt jiggly like Jell-O.

Fingers paled as I clutched the steering wheel. My mind entertained crazy thoughts while I took a curve. “Drive into the ditch. Drive into the ditch.”

I spoke back to my crazy.

“Stay on the highway, Lucy. You’re going to be okay. Your exit is a mile ahead. You can make it.”

Have you experienced the physical symptoms of fear? All of us have on occasion. Remember speaking in front of a class? Did your voice shakes, your hands tremble, or your skin glows with perspiration? How did you calm yourself? Did you take a deep breath? Imagine your classmates in their underwear?

While an estimated 5 percent of the U.S. population has experienced a panic attack, the vast majority of my counselees deal with everyday fears like worry. Worry is a type of fear. It frets over the future. You’ve worried too, haven’t you?  

Fear and Control

Fear drives some women (and men) into self-protective, controlling, freaked-out bundles of nerves. Did you know the more you fear, the greater you feel the need to protect and control? Yet your attempt to protect and control leads to more fear and even greater protective and controlling thoughts, emotions, and actions. A downward spiral, anxiety (without the intervention of godly counsel) worsens.

Like other emotions, fear is experienced in our mind and in our body. When we fear danger, your body goes on high alert. Your brain sends a message to the body to flee or to fight. Automatically hormones, including adrenaline, flood the bloodstream and the body reacts as I described above.

As you noticed, when I felt intense panic, I was in no real danger. There wasn’t a sixteen-wheeler careening into my car. The perceived danger began in my mind. Just as I experienced years of occasional, intense fear that began in my imaginations in the decades to come, I also learned though biblical counseling that I could cooperate with God’s instruction to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2, NIV)

This became my hope. . .that mind renewal through the power of the Holy Spirit would lead to my healing, but I had work to do too: Believe God every moment!

Put Off, Put On 

Back to my story for a sec. Stubborn and hopeful, I drove home from work on the highway the next day and the day after that, each time experiencing intense fear. My mind entertained thoughts of quitting my job. I was becoming a slave to my fear.

My husband and I devised a plan: I’d drive the 40-miles-per-hour roads to and from work. The plan helped and kept me employed, but failed to solve the root problem.

The problem: an ingrained habit of fear.

My solution: avoid highways.

God’s solution: put off fear, put on trust of Him.

I know this may sound simplistic. The answer to overcome fear was to unlearn the fear habit and rely on God to provide everything I needed for victory. “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood later became a favorite.

I unlearned my bad habit by consciously taking baby steps.

First, I drove on a two-lane highway with my husband in the passenger seat. Then I tried driving a four-lane highway with my husband in the passenger seat. I kept at it, graduating to driving by myself on highways. Then my fear returned and I started over.

Like other habits, the habit of fear needs God’s power to dislodge it.

In part 2 of this two-part series, I’ll share the real reason why I developed this fear and the only true way I found healing. It goes deeper than unlearning a habit.

Resources for You!

DOWNLOAD: Here’s a help for anxiety and fear.  Download Fear_of_God_Test for free.

COUNSELING: Feel free to contact me for biblical counseling in person (northern IL) or by Skype. Click here to send me a message.

photo credit: Kerekes János Csongor via photo pin cc

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