Fear is a joy stealer, a liar, and a waste of time. It has the power to blind us from all that is good and hold us hostage in a place crippled with uncertainty and doubt. I know because it happened to me. After two tragic deaths of people I loved in my mid-twenties, fear and anxiety consumed me. And worry became my good morning and good night.
Fear Of the Unknown Only Has The Power We Give It
Losing two people in my life at young ages, I began fearing my own mortality. More often than not, the stillness of night time fueled irrational thoughts about dying. A simple cramp in my leg would immediately bring my uncontrolled thoughts to an unhealthy place like an impending blood clot that I was sure would take me down or a headache that could potentially be a brain tumor or aneurysm. My heart would begin to race like I had just completed an intense high cardio workout and I would frequently check my rapid pulse. The fear was real, and it was choking the life out of me. I functioned in the day to day but inside it was stealing my everyday joy. Finally, at 40 years old I decided I had had enough, and after being beaten down with fear for the past 15 years, I finally let go of it! I realized that fear of the unknown only had the power I gave it. Confronting my fear of dying and allowing myself to be okay with whenever my time was to come, felt like I was released from a prison sentence. It was a gift of a new life, an answered prayer.
Learning To Be Brave
Learning to surrender my fears and block them from seeping into dark places didn’t happen overnight. I’m a control freak. Yet, when I released that control and reminded myself that I can’t control everything in this life, it made more sense to stop hanging on to it. That’s where being brave comes in. Bravery isn’t a one time thing. However, once I began taking the intentional steps to refuse giving those negative thoughts power, it became easier and easier to live a fearless life. Living fearless for me doesn’t mean that I have now adopted a reckless attitude where whatever happens, happens. That wasn’t me before and it still isn’t. You won’t find me signing up to skydive anytime soon because I’m simply not interested. What does thrill and interest me is my new approach to life. Trusting without knowing what’s to come, is the bravest thing I’ve ever done. Everything and everyone has deeper, more significant meaning. I am truly happy again, so I am enjoying life to the fullest. Engaging without feeling tethered to fear has lightened me. My faith is deeper and stronger and for the first time I am able to apply principles to my life that I have been reading about for years. Being brave with one fear is what empowered me to tackle the rest.
Living A Happy Life
Once I confronted my fears and were brave enough to take the first step to overcome them, I inevitably became happier. That doesn’t mean that life will be perfect and bad things may never happen again. It means that fear lost its control over my life and over the unkown. I now have the freedom to live and love without the worry of what’s next. And whatever does come next, good or bad, I won’t have to fear it. I’ve experienced something freeing about not being able to control everything. It was a huge burden that I didn’t realize I was carrying around until it was gone. Fearing my health, the future and my family’s safety to an unhealthy level is no more. I will always have my control tendencies but I’ve learned to keep them in check and focus on what I can do to make my life healthy and happy instead of the things I can’t.
Anxiety and fear can be life altering and consuming but it doesn’t have to be. The best thing we can do is acknowledge what fears us, be brave and confront it. Everyone’s journey in getting there will look different, some might be quick and easy and others might find it drawn out and painful. What’s more important is taking the steps, even if they are baby steps, just to get there. And if it’s too difficult to do on your own, seek out the people that can help you. A family member, friend, pastor or spouse. There will always be something to fear in this life if we let fear in. However, if we strip fear of its power, we win every time.