I’m reading this book right now called, “From Fear to Love,” by Ray and Nancy Kane and it has been incredibly eye opening for me. In the book it outlines the 4 main fears that we all struggle with at various times:
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Rejection
- Fear of Abandonment
- Fear of Dying (emotionally or physically)
Fear of Failure:
The book says, “When we experience fear of failure, it is as if we perceive we are under a magnifying glass. We feel every move is dissected and judged. The fear of failure can make us feel as though our entire competency as a person is on the line. We define ourselves by our capabilities rather than our worth and value. The fear of failure can become so emotionally absorbing that it depletes us from having any energy to connect with those we love. Deep within us, when we struggle with this fear, we feel somehow defective. When we feel the fear of failure, we block ourselves from moving forward and celebrating our abilities, achievements, and blessings.” (Pg. 95, 96)
Fear of Rejection:
“The experience of rejection in our lives can cause our hearts to sink, our heads to drop and an inner voice to say, ‘I am not okay.’ The rejection rocks our soul and causes the bricks of our self-worth to fall. To be rejected means that who we are is not of value to others.” The book goes on to say that many of us “coped with childhood fears by hiding what we really felt, and grew up afraid that unless we met other people’s expectations, they would reject us.” In order to often cope with this fear, “we develop ‘masks’ that cover our true selves and protect our hearts from hurt and shame. When we put on the masks, we perform in ways we perceive others want from us. We are hoping, by pleasing them, we can minimize painful criticism and judgments.” We may try to keep our distance from others, build walls and not allow ourselves to be fully “seen” by others. Inside we may feel “weak, inadequate, scared and tired.” (pg. 98, 99, 100)
Fear of Abandonment:
“To be abandoned is the demoralizing experience of being given up on, left alone and deserted. One feels forsaken. Abandonment, whether is it physical or emotional, leaves us suspicious that others in our life will leave us too. When we have been abandoned, we go into a form of emotional hibernation. We keep ourselves emotionally removed in order to deaden the painful experiences of our earlier losses in an attempt to reduce the pain of ever being abandoned again.” (pg. 103, 104)
Fear of Dying:
“When we are not dealing with our fears of failure, rejection and abandonment, we automatically become emotionally handicapped. To become emotionally handicapped means that the degree and amount of unresolved pain in our lives significantly outweighs the pain we have resolved. It takes strength to confront our fear of death. It is only when we truly look this fear in the face that we begin to start living. We cannot celebrate our life until we have come to peace with our death.” (pg. 107, 110)
Healing Through Fear:
As I’ve been reading through this book, I have become aware of just how fearful I have been my whole life. Ever since I was a little girl I have struggled with fear. I grew up watching my mom suffer from depression and anxiety and I feared that I was the cause, that I was a burden to take care of. My dad worked late nights and came home stressed a lot, and I feared that any demand to play with me or spend time with me would only add to his stress. My parents would fight and I feared they would divorce. I remember constantly having to ask my parents about death and “everlasting life” just so I could go to sleep at night as a child. I feared losing them and being separated from them. I went to school and feared I would have no friends. I started getting bullied and I would fear the harassment I would have to endure the next day. When I grew up and started watching my other friends date, I feared nobody would like me. I had so many insecurities as a young teenager and I feared people would see them all. I desired to have a relationship one day but I was terrified of letting a man get close to me emotionally. I feared that he would see my brokenness and reject me, or demand something from me and then abandon me when I said no. I feared making mistakes and then I made many of them in college and then feared people finding out. I walked in shame for a few years, terrified of the brokenness that Jesus was exposing within me and wanted to heal. I became a therapist and feared I was too broken and incompetent to help anyone else. I got engaged and I started to become afraid of marriage and not being a good wife. I haven’t been able to have children yet, but I still wrestle with the fear of failing them as a mother.
As I have been reflecting on the role that fear has played in my life, I’ve realized that there really hasn’t been much that I haven’t feared throughout my life. Every fear outlined in this book I have seen played out in my life. I do my best to face my fears, to work through them and offer them to God, but there are still so many days when I feel afraid of life. There are days when I feel afraid to truly live, and other days when I feel afraid to die. I have days when I get excited to build a beautiful life with my husband and start a family of my own, and then moments later I can feel the anxiety come knocking as I realize that everything I build in this life, I can lose tomorrow. It is sitting in this reality, feeling this vulnerability and the fragility of my humanity that has always been difficult and painful for me.
Today I sat in my office, shut the door and let myself cry, as Jesus showed me the different times throughout my life when I have been crippled by fear. I opened my heart to him and prayed as I told him I wanted to know what it’s like to live in freedom and walk in peace. I told him how exhausted I was trying to work through my fears as they relentlessly re-surface. I told him that I wanted him to heal these fears, and give me the courage to live in spite of them. It felt so good to release so much of the burden these fears have caused me.
We will all, inevitably, experience rejection, abandonment, failure and death throughout our lives. This is a painful reality we have to make peace with. I’m realizing that through these experiences in my life when I’ve felt rejected, when I’ve failed, when I’ve felt alone and abandoned and experienced the sting of loss, that it was in and through THESE moments that Jesus was trying to help heal me. By experiencing the very things I have feared, He was trying to set me free, trying to let me know that I would not be overcome by these things. But so often, I have missed what Jesus was trying to reveal to me because I focused more on the pain that these experiences brought me, instead of the realization that as bad as these things hurt, they didn’t break me. They didn’t make me lose my faith. I’m still clinging to Jesus.
At the end of the day, none of us want to live in fear and bondage. We always desire peace and freedom, but the path that leads to that, often requires us to first confront what we are most terrified of. I think it is a daily process of acknowledging our fears, handing them over to Jesus and asking for the grace to live in more trust, love and freedom than we are capable of on our own. There are many days when my fears creep in without being detected, and then I have to once again surrender them over to our Lord. “Each day of our lives we may be confronted with any of these fears. The issue isn’t how we will keep ourselves from feeling these emotions, but whether we will learn to manage our fears or let our fears manage us.” (pg. 111) I am learning that I am completely inadequate at managing my fears on my own. Left on my own, I will, without fail, allow my fears to consume me and take my mind places that leave my soul crippled with anxiety. But, when I can offer them to Jesus and give him a chance to fight for me, I am much more likely to arrive at a place of peace more quickly. It doesn’t happen instantaneously, but my soul will eventually calm down as I fixate my gaze upon Him. If I set my goal at never becoming afraid I will fail-constantly. But if my goal is to not let my fears dictate my life, than I can continue to push through, continue to pray for healing and maybe one day arrive at a place where I am walking in the freedom I fully long for.
This Lent, I feel God calling me into the desert of my fears so that I can come out ready to embrace the cross. The cross is really the path to our freedom. Though we often fear the crosses of our lives, it is through submission to the cross that we become resurrected to new life, new life that is free from fear and slavery and death. This new life brings peace, freedom, hope and joy. This new life can only be found in Jesus Christ. Whatever fears we are carrying today, whatever burdens are plaguing us, may we have the humility to know that we cannot carry them alone. May we have the courage keep pushing through when our fears rage within us. And may we have the hope of knowing that Jesus will fight for us, without fail, even in the moments we feel like we’re all alone. He will be present to us when we are abandoned and rejected. He will hold us when we fail. He will come to get us at the hour of our death. We place our peace, our hope, and our trust in these truths, Lord Jesus.
“Be still and know that I am God.”-Psalm 46:10
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”-Exodus 14:14
2019 Drewe DeJesus
Photo by Suzanne Chapman from Freely Photos