Have you every been crippled by fear? Fear often leaves us feeling isolated, full of anxiety, and incapable of moving forward.
I had started and stopped my dissertation for the second time. My advisor had suggested that I figure out why I kept getting stuck. As I set out on this quest, life took over. I got married and had a child. Slowly, I started to believe that maybe I wasn’t smart enough, and maybe I had set my expectations too high. I even began to think that maybe my life wasn’t meant to be as I had dreamed. Somewhere deep inside, I didn’t want any of this to be true, but fear had me in a deadlock. Fear was winning the battle going on in my heart.
A few years had passed, and then it came. I received a letter from the University telling me I had one year to finish my dissertation or I would have no degree. My brain started spinning in circles. “How can I get this far and not finish? What if I can’t do it?” I was scared.
Several days later, I got the call from my brother telling me that our dad died in his sleep. As Curt and I were driving to my mom’s house, I told him that I had to finish. I needed to finish for my dad, and I never wanted to explain to our son why I didn’t finish. Curt simply replied, “Ok, do it.”
I had pushed fear down far enough to make that declaration, but it wasn’t until I cried out to God and surrendered the entire process to Him that I started to have the strength and motivation to move forward.
18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].1John 4:18 (AMP)
My heart is still not perfect in love and fear still creeps in here and there. But, I was changed through this experience, and fear doesn’t have the grip it once had. First, I had to stop repeating tapes to myself that said, “I can’t, I’m not good enough, smart enough, capable…” I replaced those thoughts with truths from scripture that included: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
Second, I kept an image from a poem that I had read in the forefront of my mind. The poem describes a tandem bike. I’m in front and Jesus is in the back along for the ride. At some point, I let Jesus drive and I’m along for the ride. The poem goes on to describe how grand the adventure is when Jesus is in front. I held onto the image of Him on the front of the tandem bike for encouragement.
Lastly, I broke the goal down into baby steps. The big picture was overwhelming, but the only way to get there was to start-one step at a time. Early in the process of this third attempt to finish my dissertation, I was diagnosed with written expressive language disorder. I would always get stuck when it was time to write. I would lose half of the details in my head as soon as I would start to physically write. With new tools, ( I literally talked the paper into a tape recorder and then transcribed it) this was a hurdle and not a road block. I was able to keep taking baby steps and with each step there was more strength and confidence. I often look back and wonder what my life would be like if I had let fear win. I don’t want fear to ever win.
God has a purpose and a plan for us. He wants us to become fully the person we are created to be. Choose love not fear. What is holding you back? What goals do you have that fear is holding you back from achieving? What’s your first step? Share how you are conquering fear.