It’s been a challenging few weeks with natural disasters in the news on a daily basis. Seeing all the devastation and experiencing the floods and fires can strike fear into your heart. But God doesn’t want us living in fear.
Fears can take many forms and this weekend we are highlighting the things that make us afraid. More importantly, we are talking about what to do with fear.
Let’s say you are at work and called to the 36th floor of the high-rise building. Fear grips you. On the way up to the meeting, your heart starts to beat fast, your palms get sweaty and you feel like you might faint. You are terrified as you look out the glass elevator and see how high you are. You have a phobia to heights and feel momentarily paralyzed and don’t know if you can make it to the 36th floor.
These types of fears called phobias are common to 19 million people. A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear of something. When you encounter the source of your fear, you become highly anxious and immobilized. There are literally hundreds of phobias. People can learn to be afraid of almost anything.
Phobias involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors and are learned. Since these fears are learned, they can be unlearned.
The first thing you want to do when you are afraid of something is run from it, right? It’s that fight or flight tendency that is programmed into us. But with a fear or phobia, you actually do the opposite if you want to get rid of the fear.
To overcome a phobia, face the fear. Yes, face that giant with God’s help. You have to be willing to tolerate feeling anxious and terrible as you face the fear. Tell yourself, I can do this. I can take it. If you stay in the anxious moment and face the fear, you eventually get over the fear. The more you tolerate the fear, the more it goes away. You expose yourself over and over to the fear until it no longer has power over you. Eventually, the fear loses its power.
Here is an example: Let’s say you are afraid of elevators. You could begin by simply walking in the elevator over and over until you get in the elevator without complete panic. Then you are ready to make the plunge and go down. Push the button and off you go. You may feel like you are going to die, but you won’t. Once you get to the bottom, you realize you are Ok and faced your fear. Do that over and over until the fear is gone. It often helps to do this type of exposure work with a trained therapist who can walk you through the process until the fear is gone.
Facing fear is counter to our desire to avoid it, but once you face the fear over and over you can get rid of it. It often takes time and a commitment to tolerate the anxiety that comes with doing this type of work, however, the end result is losing the fear.
God does not want you debilitated by fear or living in fear. He reminds us in John 14:27 that He is our peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”Facing your fears