I’m thankful to have poet Anne Peterson here today with an honest post about fear. Have you ever felt as she has? I know I have. Let her words of wisdom sink way down deep. Anne is the author of 42 published Bible studies, and 25 articles with Today’s Christian Woman online, an affiliate of Christianity Today. Her poetry is sold throughout the U.S. and in 23 countries.You can find Anne on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @annepeterson.
All of us have fears in our lives. We feel bound, caged, sometimes paralyzed.
I didn’t learn how to drive till I was 30. Consequently I lacked confidence as a driver. I was afraid to drive by myself, also afraid of getting lost. Those two fears imprisoned me for years.
When our fears confine us, there are steps we can take to get free. First, we need to know what we’re afraid of.
1. Identify your fears
When I was in my 50‘s, I decided to finish my BA degree with an accelerated program. The problem was, the college was 40 minutes away from home. Being direction deficient didn’t help. Getting lost on orientation night made me wonder if I could do this.
Since my class only met one night a week and every sixth Saturday, I decided to try.
My husband drew me a detailed map, with little trees drawn in. Each Wednesday, I’d leave the house a little early with my books. my map and renewed determination. I just wanted to make the trip without getting lost and I knew it would be a challenge for me.
2. Acknowledge your limitations
The first few weeks I got lost every time on my way home. Frustrated, I remember praying,
“God, if you don’t help me, I can’t do this.”
I actually counted the remaining days till graduation. Could I do 86 more trips?
Fear tied my stomach in knots. Then my conversation sounded like this: What is the matter with you? Anyone can do a trip like this without getting lost! You’ll never figure this out.
Defeated, I’d arrive home with a wet face. Exhausted, I’d slip into bed. God gently showed me I needed encouragement, and he taught me how to do it.
3. Change self-talk
I realized how my negative self-talk affected me. I thought about what I needed to hear and I changed how I talked to myself. I started treating myself like a friend, instead of using berating words, pointing out my faults.
Feeling uncertain as I approached an intersection I told myself, It’s okay, you can do this. You’re going to be fine. Just relax.
With this change in my thoughts and words I noticed it became easier for me to make decisions, easier to think through difficulties.
Finally it happened. I made the trip without getting lost!
4. Celebrate your victories
When I walked in and told my family. They cheered.
Changing my self-talk diminished my fears. I began celebrating my victories. I deserved a pat on the back for my hard work. I praised myself for my accomplishment.
Graduation day came. As I stood with classmates I realized the significance of the day. God knew the obstacles I overcame. He knew my fears and helped me conquer them.
Living uncaged is possible, we just need to take one step at a time.