Maybe you’re a rare bird who has winged her way overseas without one single fear, but chances are somewhere in your overseas journey your stomach has knotted with the weight of so many question marks. I know mine has.
As I’ve journeyed across continents and through deep seasons of anxiety and fear I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve learned that fear can threaten to over take you, but we have the promise that, in Christ, we can more than overcome fear. With that said know that I am a fear-struggler along with you. I’m no expert just a fear fighter who struggles daily.
1) Recognize fear for what it is
Fear is the stealer of joy. Fear is the thief of purpose. Fear paralyzes.
If we choose to dwell in fear then we are ultimately choosing to dwell in a sinful pattern of thinking. As we claw for control we are letting go of the strong hope of Christ and clinging to our own ability to manage life.
2) Recognize what triggers your fears
I’m banned from WebMD. Because as we all know if you look up “hang nail” on WebMD it’s going to tell you death is imminent.
If you are going to have victory over fear then you have to avoid the things that cause the battle to rage. I can’t watch scary movies. There are certain things that I can’t let my heart and mind dwell on because they make the what-if recording start playing in my head.
I realize you can’t always avoid things that are scary. In fact sometimes God brings us face to face with our greatest fears.
So what then? (hint: keep reading)
3) Surround yourself with people to aid you in the fight
During our time overseas I had four women who I trusted to know the weekly ups and downs of our life. I would send them prayer requests and panicked messages when I needed encouragement. They were a circle of sisters who surrounded me in the battle against fear.
Fear isolates. Fighting fear requires being open and honest about our struggle and letting others come alongside us in the battle.
4) Feed your soul
Fear is a pit and when you’re stuck in that pit it can make you forget that there is an outside world. Our minds can laser focus on the things that frighten us.
Take time to do the things that make you feel alive. Read a book. Dive into God’s Word more deeply. Cook a delicious meal. Sip a cup of tea slowly. Do yoga. Take some deep breaths.
5) Make your space a place of peace
Our inner lives can feel chaotic when fear is nipping at our heels. Is your overseas home part of the chaos? When we lived overseas we struggled to ever have any privacy. National friends would knock on our door early in the morning and wait outside our door until we came out.
My only refuge was within those four walls behind my closed curtains. I made a small corner of our cement floored, cinder blocked home into a cozy nook for reading and coffee drinking. It was a place I could go (usually with headphones on) to reset my soul on long days and when the questions in my heart heaped big.
Make a physical space for peace even if it is just a small table in the corner or a chair on a tiny balcony.
6) Cling to Scripture
God’s Word describes itself as a sword. It is able to go to battle for us when lies and doubts rear their ugly heads. I challenge you to memorize or post around your home these three fear fighting verses.
You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 23:3-4
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
7) Preach the Gospel to yourself
Remind yourself who God is. Don’t dwell on how small or weak you are. Dwell, internalize deeply, abide in the great truths of God’s character.
He never changes. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is El Roi, the God who sees. He is the God who sent hope in human skin to rescue you in your most desperate state. That is truth to white-knuckled cling to when life flings fear your way.
There have been times when I lisped out barely audible prayers for help in the midst of my fears. God heard. He heard my fearful heart. Don’t be afraid to express your heart to God because He already knows how the darkness can close in. Prayer can pull back the curtain a bit to let the Light in.
9) Take medication
Full disclosure: I’ve never taken medication for anxiety. With that said I realize for some people medication can be life-changing. Don’t be afraid to talk with a doctor and consider this option. Living in freedom from fear can be a multi-faceted journey. I don’t believe that medication is the whole answer for anyone, but it can be part of the answer for some.
10) Believe that the Holy Spirit is alive in you
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we don’t battle alone. We have a Comforter. Fear finds us when we are weakest. The Spirit is alive in every believer. Cling to that fact. Embrace that and let the Spirit embrace you when fear attacks.
How do you fight fear? Is it a battle for you? What ways have you found to cope and push back against anxiety and fear?