I want to write about fighting fear today, but here’s my warning: while I believe that these tools can be used to fight fear across the board, I’m going to be writing about mine in terms of pregnancy and miscarriage, because that’s where my life has been at for the last two months.
It is my hope and prayer that whatever you might be facing in your life, these ideas can be of help and encouragement, even though we don’t all fear the same things….
How I Got into This Mess
When Ben and I talk about my issues with fear, he often expresses how helpless he feels about not being able to make things better for me. He would love to help me, but he just doesn’t understand how I think. He doesn’t get why I worry or feel fear. I’ve had a tendency to pick the worst-case scenario, and then imagine how I would deal with it, thinking this would prepare me for whatever might actually happen.
Over the past few years, I’ve gone to war with that kind of thinking, slowly and painfully trying to change old, bad habits of thought patterns. I’ve been told it works a bit like a beaten path through the forest – our minds follow certain trains of thought, until they become well-worn, and difficult to break away from.
My fears over these last couple of months come from the fact that after Anika was born, we went through two miscarriages, and three and a half years of fertility treatments. During this time, I was very weak physically, mentally, and spiritually. All three tie together so tightly, one tends to bring the rest out of balance. I went to see a counselor during that time, but she focused only on the mental aspect, while I needed balance in the other areas, as well. Things only started improving once I was also seeing a naturopath to heal my physical issues, and found some friends who were able to support and mentor me spiritually. I also read a ton of great books, which is one of my favorite ways to learn and grow.
Before this could happen, however, I become pregnant with Kaylia, and felt so gripped by fear, and experienced such terrible morning sickness, I stayed in bed for hours each day. I could hardly function, those first few months. It’s kind of a blur to me now – I just remember it being a very dark time.
It was hard to recover from it – Kaylia was a few months old before I felt as though I had finally gotten over the fear and trauma of that pregnancy. In the five years since, it’s been amazing to see how God has brought healing, strength, and stability into my life. I’ve learned a lot about choosing my thoughts carefully, and fighting fear. I am not the same person I was back then.
However. When I found myself unexpectedly in that dreaded first trimester all over again, I was terrified that I would regress. I did not want to go back to my old way of dealing with things, but it was incredibly hard to be faced with those old fears, and NOT slip back into the well-worn paths in my mind.
I cannot claim to have been completely victorious, but I can say that this time around, things were very different.
Here are the tools I used to fight fear:
1) Hang on to Scripture.
Like your life depends on it. I chose a few verses that directly applied to my situation, and I said those verses over and over and over again. I wrote them out repeatedly. I meditated on them. I prayed them.
When I went for counseling years ago, I was told that the best way to redirect the pathways in the mind is to come up with an alternative thought – something truthful and logical that replaces the fear.
But they were still just words. It worked to a point, but it didn’t have anywhere near the same strength that Scripture has.
For this situation, these are the verses I chose:
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27
I chose these verses because I needed to remember that this baby’s life is in God’s hands. My worrying and fear could not extend that life. God already knew how long this little life would be, and I needed to surrender to His perfect wisdom, knowledge, and plan.
No, it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll get what I want. I wanted this baby to live, with everything in me. I wanted comforting verses that would assure me God would only do what is good and wonderful. But it’s not true. Babies die and bad stuff happens, but if my focus stays on Jesus, suddenly even the worst possibilities fade from my sight, and all I care about in that moment is hanging on to Him. He doesn’t take the bad stuff away – He just captures my focus so I don’t see the fear anymore.
2) Live in the moment.
In these last two months, God did not give me strength to survive losing this baby, because I didn’tlose this baby.
The problem with worrying is that you put yourself outside of this present moment, and Jesus isn’t giving me strength for my imaginary scenarios. He’s here. I firmly believe that He will give me strength to go through whatever life brings my way, but He WON’T give me strength for things life DOESN’T bring my way. I don’t need it! But I do have everything I need, for this present moment.
3) Get prayer support.
Sometimes I feel embarrassed about my issues with fear. I don’t want people to know, because I want to appear strong. I feel foolish about some of the things that worry me. I know better, so I don’t want to admit my struggles with something I know I shouldn’t be struggling with.
But amazing things happen when we open up and share. Our vulnerability often opens doors for others to let down their guard, as well. I’m always amazed by how many other people also struggle with fear. Satan loves to lie to us, and convince us we’re alone, but we’re NOT!!
Opening up to my wonderful friends opened the doors for beautiful times of prayer and being strengthened. On one of my weakest days, a friend gripped my arms, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “You are not that person anymore. You do not fear. You are strong, and God has not made you a woman of fear.” And then she prayed until all the junk had been cleaned out.
Don’t ever stay alone in your fear. If you really don’t think you have someone to turn to, then pray like crazy that God will bring someone your way who can pray with you and speak those words of truth into your life.
4) There is no condemnation.
I felt very guilty about my fear sometimes. I didn’t want it, I was ashamed of it, and I felt guilty for allowing it to cloud what should have been a happy time in my life.
When people heard that we were expecting a baby, I was asked many times, “Are you excited???!!” And the answer was “no”. I don’t know if I ever actually said that, but that was the truth. I spent two months protecting my weary heart, and I was petrified to get attached to this baby. I wasn’t excited. I didn’t even want to tell people that we were having a baby, because I was annoyed that they were more excited than I was!!
I fought with everything in me not to lose control and enter a complete state of panic. I fought to keep my eyes of Jesus, and to get through the first trimester without losing faith. There was no room for getting excited.
So I felt guilty. And I worried that I might not get excited, at all!
But I need not have worried. When I heard that heartbeat for the first time at the end of the first trimester, I was set free. I was suddenly overcome with excitement, and I wanted EVERYONE to know!
Ben always says, “It will be what it will be.” And this is completely true with baggage. I am on my way to freedom in Christ, but it’s a journey. He understands that, and He just keeps loving me and waiting for me as I keep learning and working it out. He doesn’t condemn me for what I’m feeling – He just keeps offering peace.
It was my own expectations that brought guilt and condemnation into my situation. One day, I finally sat myself down, and had to say to myself, “I am not excited, but I will be. I can’t change what the past held, and I’m learning to face a lot of old fears. It is what it is. So I will keep giving it to Jesus, and I will not expect myself to feel certain things. I will accept the past, trust Him with the present, and hope for better things in the future.”
And here we are. I made it through one of my greatest fears. There are many, many other fears that could potentially creep in – there are no guarantees, even after the first trimester is over. But I’ve gotten stronger. I’ve practiced controlling my thoughts, and grown in my ability to trust God, and now we just keep going!
Same tools, different circumstances.
I’d love to hear what tools you use to fight fear in your own life. Share, and bless the rest of us?:)