Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Fear, something I never knew I had until it developed into anxiety and panic. I know about fear all too well in this current season of consistent change. For two years God and I have been on a journey of Him changing my heart, dreams, goals, people around me, the opinion of myself, and so so much more. Unfortunately, fear has taken over my entire being and I am still attempting, or rather allowing God to take over completely. A favorite author of mine always asks herself where God is in each situation. He is a constant presence, but often we forget He is there and will continue to be there through ANY change. So today, as we travel through the first response to change, I encourage you to have an open mind and to be honest with yourself.
In Matthew 19:16-22 Jesus encounters a rich young man. The young man inquires about how the Kingdom of heaven is accessed. Jesus calls the rich man to follow Him; yet, the young man left sad.... Many people relate this to the love of money and finding priority in earthly things but non one ever takes the view of the young man's reasons. Honestly, I have not read any commentary and have no theological background what so ever, this is simply my opinion. FEAR, the young man was terrified to leave the comfort of his cozy home and belongings. He was afraid of the unknown. He was terrified of change. With any change, things are taken away and new things are given. NO ONE likes giving up ANYTHING, it's just plain hard. But when you hold someone or something so dear, sometimes God graciously asks you to give it up, in order for Him to take His place in your heart and mind. If you aren't willing to give it up, anxiety and worry begin to swallow you whole.
So what is fear anyways? It is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger." It can also be, "an instance of this emotion" or, "a state marked by this emotion." Another definition is: "anxious concern." Basically, fear is emotions that may or may not be wise. For example, when my mom or dad fears something, I believe it is a wise, concerned decision of the situation. However, when I experience fear, it is out of an uncomfortable feeling or comes from an unbalanced view of a situation or scenario. Do you see the difference? Fear is not bad, emotions are not evil, and in balance all of these things are from the Lord and have value.
Just like the rich young man, we can see a situation at face value and not see the big picture. Jesus asks us to follow Him which means we must leave everything we have ever known, say goodbye to everyone we love, and go to a foreign country right? NO! Jesus asks us to follow Him in the small, mundane things. In EVERY CHANGE no matter how big or how small. It's not that we cannot have fear, anxiety, doubts, worry, or even desire to say no. It is the fact that we choose not to see it from God's view, or rather try. Its the fact that we choose to allow fear, anxiety, doubts, worry, and our own flesh to control us instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to give us peace. It's the fact we choose to experience sadness instead of joy.
So if walking away from change isn't the answer, what is? Obviously face and embrace it! However, what does that look like amidst fear? Going back to Matthew 19, after the rich young man left, the disciples and Jesus began to talk about what had just happened. Peter, being Peter, asks this question, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" (NIV). Jesus then replies by saying, "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first," (NIV). WOW! Just WOW! If only the young ruler would have been able to say yes for just a few seconds, he would have then found out that change was worth the sacrifice, worth the pain, worth his riches, worth experiencing fear, because that outcome is far greater than any fame or fortune. Now if we overcome fear for just a few seconds, and our greater purpose isn't revealed, what do we do? Remember why we chose to face and embrace change to begin with.......God's glory. We choose in order to be an example and experience God's supernatural, free way of living. We choose because God first chose us. Change is going to happen. Yet, fear can either remind you to have anxiety or it can remind you that God is there and He is ultimately enough.
When I first began to experience fear and people kept telling me these same things, I honestly thought they were crazy. Like I know God is sovereign, I know He gets the ultimate glory, and of course He is ultimately enough for me......BUT did I? Did I really? Because if I did and really do even now, I wouldn't experience anxiety everyday. I wouldn't have dread deep within my heart. I wouldn't be finding my identity in people's approval. I certainly wouldn't take rejection so deeply. Therefore, when fear creeps up, especially in the midst of change, I have learned some practical steps to keep things in perspective.
You all know how much I love lists, so here is a list of 5 simple things you can do to help you conquer change amidst fear:
1. PRAY. No, I don't mean a 5 second God help me prayer (which is awesome and all we can do sometimes). I am talking about praying scripture over yourself and the situation. I am talking about real, genuine, tell Jesus your emotions and BOLDLY ask Him to take them away or give you wisdom to overcome them.
2. When your fears begin to take over your thoughts, distract yourself......play on your phone, color, listen to music, call someone, text someone, read, browse pinterest, meditate, get up and take a little walk around the room, the list can be endless.
3. In one column, write down each fear and then in a separate column right beside it, write down the truth.
4. Write down the worst case scenario of each change in your life, then write the same change with the best outcome. Normally this puts things into perspective for me and brings about truth to my emotions.
5. Don't view the change as a great big journey, view it as a day to day walk. There is NO need to envision the entire 5K when all you need to know is what marker you are currently on. Keep your mind focused on the day you are on and don't allow your mind to wonder to yesterday or tomorrow.... You HAVE TO constantly be aware of your thoughts. One wrong inkling of a fear/anxiety/panicked thought and it goes down hill FAST!