Learning how to face your fears is a journey and one I want to share with you. As always, my lessons begin with my kids or my garden or the many experiences God brings my way.
“You can run, but you can’t hide” I say in my scariest voice. Two little boys run away squealing. Joshua is older and therefore understands the concept of hiding, but hiding quietly is another story. He’s behind the shower curtain, talking excitedly and Joel is trying hard to follow him with his shorter, less coordinated legs.
The enthusiasm of this age is beautiful.
I throw back the shower curtain and the squeals explode. After a round of tickles, they dart off, yelling “you can run, but you can’t hide!” The sound of their excited laughter and their footsteps tell me they have moved to their second hiding spot. I give them a moment, knowing that they can’t contain themselves long enough to hide and will soon give themselves away.
I enjoy this game as much as they do. Life is good when you are laughing with your favorite people.
Of course, my happiness is never complete and the thought of “you can run, but you can’t hide” is trying to teach me something. I can feel it pushing on my brain.
Do you know what else you can’t hide from?
And there it is.
You can’t hide from grief. OR sadness or depression. You can’t hide from fear or anxiety or hurt.
Sure, you can run. Isn’t that what our instincts tell us to do? Escape danger. Run from those things that scare you and break you down. You have to protect yourself and find your safe place.
Oddly enough, it’s myself that I so often want to hide from. The memories of yesterday and the fears of tomorow. I try to run from them. I throw myself into my kids, my “life”, the busyness necessary to keep me going so I don’t pause and think.
We all know that running does no good. It prolongs the inevitable, forces you to live longer with the pain. Fears remain fears until they are faced and their power dissolves.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:2)
Notice how it says “when you pass through” and “when you walk through”.
Is Facing Your Fears Healthy?
Fear is a natural and often much needed emotion. I have a child who doesn’t experience much fear and is a bit reckless and oblivious to the possible consequences. You don’t want to be void of fear because it does help keep you safe.
The thing about fear though, is that too much of it will actually prevent you from trying new things and having wonderful experiences. This is a lesson I learned late in life. When I look back at all the times fear stopped me, I have regrets.
Benefits of Facing Your Fears
If you are here trying to convince yourself that you should do something that you are afraid of, ask yourself these questions:
- Could it have a positive outcome?
- Is this a rational fear? Is it grounded in reality or has it escalated in my head?
- Will my life be richer by facing this fear?
- What is the worst that could happen if I face this fear?
- What is the best that could happen?
What Happens When You Face Your Fears?
So, what happens when you face your fears? Let’s get a little scientific because it does help for you to understand what is going on in your brain when you are afraid.
Your brain has an emotion center called the amygdala. This small section of your brain responds to all emotions but can be particularly overactive in the fear department, mostly because it cannot analyze situations itself, it can only respond.
It jumps into action as soon as your brain senses danger, whether it be something you are thinking about or an actual physical threat. We saw this a lot during the pandemic. People became very afraid, not because they were experiencing an illness, but because they were surrounded by input about the virus.
After losing Rebekah, my anxiety would escalate to ugly heights by only remembering the accident or by seeing someone or something I associated with it (such as an ambulance). In turn, my fear would suffocate me and the rest of my family as my instincts fought to keep everyone safe.
The key is to reduce the fear response by providing healthy input for your brain to experience. For me, that meant slowly allowing my other children to do what kids should do. Once I began leaving them again, allowing them to climb trees, or explore our small woods by themselves, the memories of them being successful and safe in these activities began to stop the amygdala response.
I had to face my fears in order to retrain my brain.
So, how can you apply this to your situation?
By slowly step by step (you don’t have to go out and skydive right away!) you can train your brain not to overact and you gain confidence. You are replacing the feeling of fear with a memory of peace and you will stop triggering the fear response.
How to Remove Fear From Your Mind and Heart
Now that we understand why we should face our fears, how do we remove fear from our mind and heart? How do we take that first step? How do we free ourselves?
Pray. Yes, you can give it to God and He will provide you the strength to move forward.
Surround yourself with people who are also overcoming obstacles in their lives. We all have our burdens. When we surround ourselves with other determined people we are inspired and find a much needed support system.
Don’t stay still. Remember, you need to replace that fear in your brain with good healthy memories. Not moving forward will simply continue to confirm to your brain that it needs to be afraid.
How to Find Peace
Peace would be the opposite of fear, right? So while we are learning how to face our fears, let’s also take a look at peace and how to prioritize it in our lives.
Peace is not necessarily the absence of fear, it is more of confidence through the fear. Psalm 91 says it best.
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. (verse 3)
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. (verses 5-7)
As you can see, God doesn’t take the danger away from us, He protects us through it.
True peace is the ability to be at rest in the face of fear.
How can we be at rest in the face of fear? We have God’s promises to stand upon. I have a list of faith over fear Bible verses below to help you face your fears with God’s help, but first, these posts are definitely worth your attention also.
Faith Over Fear Bible Verses
Getting to the step of facing your fear is the most difficult part. How do you convince yourself to do it? Find your strength in God. Here are a few faith over fear Bible verses to help you with this.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
I hope you are starting to feel more confident on this journey of how to face your fears and overcome them. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!