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Overcoming Fear

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

 

About 2 years ago, a young female cat wandered into our yard late one night. Watching her through the window, I could tell that something wasn’t right. After 40 minutes of coaxing with a can of food, I finally got a closer look at her. She was so weak from starvation, she had a hard time walking without falling over. But she was also so terrified that it took a long time for her hunger to overcome the fear enough to come to the food. By the time she was working on her 3rd can, I was finally able to bring her into the cabin and she has lived with us since.

Li’l Bits is very shy and easily spooked, but her main fear is of humans. She has enjoyed being pet, but only if she was on the floor. Every attempt to pick her up or even approach her sent her into a panic attack, indicating that she had been dropped before or maybe even thrown. It’s sickening to think about, but I know she had been badly abused to cause the kind of fear she displays.

I’ll never know the details of what happened to her, but in the time she’s been with us she has finally begun to trust us somewhat, on her terms. She is gaining a little more confidence in herself now, actually risking letting other people see her and even walking up to a few. She has even let me pick her up and hold her a few times now. When she first came to us, the main concern was getting her back to health. She recovered physically in about 4 months. But watching her live in such a state of constant fear just about broke my heart.

I often see a look in her eyes that says she wants to trust, but the memory of whatever happened to her is still there, causing fear and uncertainty. Perhaps in time she will be able to feel safe enough to trust us not to hurt her.

To be alarmed of danger is a benefit to keep us safe and alive. But fear can become our ruler and destroy us as well. It can rob us of peace, joy, contentment, and even love. It can also prevent or even kill our faith.

I have seen fear destroy many things, including opportunities and relationships. A few people I have known have let their fears stop them from being able to develop a lasting bond with anyone. Their fear tells them not to take a chance on anyone because they will be hurt, just like my cat. Fears also cause us not to grab hold of an opportunity that could be something great. In my own case, fear has caused me not to speak up when I should have.

I have had a fear of speaking in front of an audience. I can talk to anyone on a one to one basis. But when I stand in front of an audience, my heart begins to race, my knees begin to shake and I feel like I want to run away. I can’t explain why I feel like that, but it is fear. I also have fears of “what if”. There have been many times in the past that I would experience a panic attack because of thinking of all the bad things that might happen.

Thankfully, I can say that I have been delivered from unfounded fears. The first step was in learning to trust God. I had to decide if I believed that God does truly love me, like it says in the bible. I decided “yes”. Then I had to ask myself if I really believed that God is honest and good and keeps His promises. Again, my answer was “yes”.  I had read a verse in the bible that promised God would never leave or forsake me. That brought me some comfort, and gave me some confidence.

For many years I had avoided putting myself in situations that caused me to fear, like speaking to an audience. But there were still the always present fears of “what if”. I have a very creative imagination, so I could conjure up many possibilities to be afraid of. Then I read a scripture that really touched my heart. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) As I studied this verse I realized that God doesn’t want for us to be ruled by fear. He wants for us to feel safe, under His protection. He wants for us to trust in Him.

There was still a hesitation in me that allowed my fears to prevent me from doing certain things. I prayed and prayed for deliverance from these fears, but they didn’t really go away. Eventually I learned that part of trusting in God means that I can have courage to try something, even while I’m afraid. That requires complete trust. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) As I learned more about giving God my complete trust, I began stepping out in faith, believing that He would be there with me and help me to get through the fear. And He did. I still feel fear when I stand up in front of a crowd of people. But I remind myself that God is right there with me and He is much stronger than my fear. Sometimes I picture in my mind that God is holding me in His arms while I’m talking, and there is an invisible shield around me that nothing can get through. And even though I may feel nervous and afraid, I know His strength is protecting me and I can make it through anything because of that.

Fear of the unknown is one of the hardest fears to overcome. As I said earlier, my imagination can go quite wild with “what if”. What God finally showed me was that anything can happen or change without warning, and I have no control over it. I had to learn that I am not in control at all, He is! I have no power in myself, He is all powerful. And I had to learn that things are not according to my will, but His will. That is when I was able to put my complete trust in Him. Now I know that no matter what happens, it is all in His hands and I have trust in Him to work it out for the best according to His plans. Because I can trust in Him completely, I can accept that bad things may happen. But I know that He can use it for His purpose to cause something good to come from it. I know that I cannot always understand why things happen, but it is ok because He knows. I do not know the future or how things will always affect other things, but God does.

This doesn’t mean that I am without any responsibility. I can’t just sit here and do nothing. But it gives me a freedom in knowing that I do not have to live my life being controlled by fears and anxiety. I can step out in faith, knowing that as I walk under God’s protection and grace, He is always there with me, helping me to overcome any fear. He has given me deliverance and victory, and all doubt has been removed, being replaced with total faith and trust in Him.

 

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