Fear is a liar and it wears a different mask for each of God’s children. Oftentimes we do not recognize its face because of the facade and we don’t realize the chaos that is left in its wake until after the damage is done. You see, fear doesn’t have to only look like anxiety or worry; these are just the most obvious signs of this spiritual cancer. Sometimes it looks like defensiveness and sarcasm, it can show up as denial, doubt, avoidance, distraction, or even self-preservation. There are hundreds of other ways fear can present itself; it all depends on its fight strategy and what it knows about your life.
For me, I did not even recognize fear until it had built walls around my heart so thick and high that I could barely see the Son. I was caught off guard because I knew what “typical” fear looked like, and it didn’t look like me. I had grown up around several truly fearful individuals whose lives were riddled with anxiety and worry; since my life didn’t seem to fit that bill, I thought I was in the clear and managed to believe that I was mostly fearless (other than with “superficial” things like heights, drowning, and roaches). Due to this false security though, fear had crept in unnoticed and was able to sit quietly in the deep recesses of my soul. Subconsciously, I had built walls of defense around my heart to safeguard myself against any emotional pain that could come against me. Those vines of fear had flowers that looked like beautiful protection but the thorns were cutting away any ability to love fully, to trust deeply, and to allow myself the vulnerability to be hurt. It was a ripped off bandage when God finally revealed the fear in my life that I didn’t know was there, but it was time to stop nursing imaginary wounds. I named it, “Proactive Fear” … trying to beat pain to the punch before it could even swing. When something has a name- it gets a little more personal.
This kind of emotional self-protection is dangerous because of who it turns you into. I was unwittingly becoming a callous robot to those around me and it was isolating the ones I loved the most. I have since learned that full surrender to God and feeble attempts to avoid pain cannot walk together in harmony. My fear-fight took on a bit of imagery that I want to share with you and perhaps it will help you unmask the defenses in your own life.
Join me in the ring:
I stand in the center of a fighting ring, having trained hard up to this point; gloves tightened, mouth guard in place, believing that I can withstand anything that is thrown up against me. Coach doesn’t tell me every move I’m to make in the ring because He’s done His job well. I wait for the bell to begin the fight… I’m to always wait for the bell. I can see Him there in my corner, waiting and watching for me to become the fighter He knows I can be. Suddenly, without the bell or any warning from Coach, skilled fighter after fighter rushes up against me and so I attack- sometimes I manage to get a blow in but these fighters are stronger and more experienced than I am. I endure unexpected pain and deep bruises. Still, coach remains silent. I throw up my defenses and start pushing competitors away to try and keep them from getting close enough to me to inflict more pain. I figure that, even if I can’t cause injury, I can at least protect myself. I’m overwhelmingly exhausted; I don’t understand this training and I’m disappointed that Coach would allow this to keep happening while He’s simply looking on without emotion.
Finally, I turn and look Him straight in the face, “I can’t keep this up; please, call them off!”
He lovingly shakes His head and says; “There was no bell- I never told you to fight.”
I get angry; “If I don’t fight I’ll get hurt; I have to at least defend myself!”
He responds; “I never told you to defend yourself”.
I’m so confused and every inch of me, including my heart, is in pain.
He explains further; “Training is not just knowing how to hit and avoid getting hit… you also have to know how to BE hit. Conditioning is key to making you stronger and you can only condition your body when you allow to it be hit again and again. I will never allow you to be hurt beyond what you can bear, but you have to trust Me and the process. Protecting your wounds won’t make them heal faster- you have to allow yourself to be hurt and afterwards- immediately come to Me for the healing. I can heal on a level deeper than time can do and the place that was hurt will be stronger because of it. If you simply protect your injury it will take longer and cause the scabs and scars to be susceptible to reopening. It’s only in turning to Me every time you hurt that I can heal them deeply and make you into the fighter you need to be. Stop protecting yourself from wounds and start giving the wounds to Me.”
We are all fighters and we are usually pretty good at both attacks and defenses… but not many of us are taught how to endure injury, only how to avoid it. However, in this life we WILL get injured, often by the ones we love, time and time again. We can’t always avoid it because we live in a broken world. It is critical to condition our spiritual/mental/emotional selves to be able to take those wounds and immediately place them at the foot of the cross. This isn’t becoming callous and unemotional- it’s learning that our wounds will not destroy us when they are placed in the Coach’s hands. When we do this, He heals on the deepest level possible and turns our scars into strength. We are able to take hits because we realize that we have an all-encompassing healing waiting for us, and we can be vulnerable and love fully because of it. We love the deepest when we give ourselves permission to hurt deeply. Jesus is the perfect example of this.
Fear wins when self-protection fights… faith wins when we surrender to the training. This is not a doormat approach- you can still remain wisely on guard and ready to fight when the Coach tells you to, but always listen for His direction because you cannot be a champion fighter without conditioning. Don’t be afraid of getting hit and being hurt; don’t allow fear to set up residency in your life simply because you don’t recognize it. Fear often looks wise when we think it’s the only option we have for safety. Look for the areas in your life where this deception may be taking root and do everything you can to remove it.
How do you remove fear? Starve it by only feeding your faith… continually fill your mind with Truth and be aware of the areas in your life that fear knows full-well. Protect your weak areas and fill your arsenal with weapons of prayer, worship, and the Word of God. It sounds cliché but it’s absolutely essential in order to become the confident warrior God has called you to be.
“Two natures beat within my breast
The one is foul, the one is blessed
The one I love, the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.”
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” -Galatians 5:16
When we allow the Spirit of God in us to grow by spending time with Him and focusing on His promises and love, He subdues the human nature within us and the demonic influence around us. Fear starves when faith is fed. Do not believe that just because your life doesn’t seem to be riddled with anxiety that fear will leave you alone. It may seem wise to build walls and defenses but you WILL get hit in this life. Don’t be scared and think that you have to always defend yourself before a punch is thrown. Learn to be conditioned by the wounds you receive and give them to the Ultimate Healer- He will make you stronger than you ever dreamed possible.
by: Cassie Weller