Heart pounding, hands shaking, sinking feeling in your gut, mind racing with thoughts of panic, and an overwhelming feeling of impending doom. This is FEAR. Real, literal fear. And it’s something I would experience on a weekly, sometimes daily basis when I was in the darkest moments of my anxiety and panic attack disorder. I was at war with fear and I was losing every battle. I was in the middle of nursing school in my junior year of college and I was slowly becoming consumed by fear despite my best efforts to not let it take over my life. I remember needing to leave class on multiple occasions due to getting panic attacks for no apparent reason. And then I hit my breaking point when the fear became so overwhelming that I found myself crying in my instructor’s office because I had this awful feeling that something horrible was about to happen. Nothing quite says rock bottom like being a 20 something college student crying in her instructor’s office. Although this was particularly embarrassing for me, I know that this was a defining moment and it started me on my journey to leave my fear behind.
I went home that day and started searching for therapists who specialized in anxiety and found the woman who would change my life. Over the course of meeting with her and working through exposure therapy- I was finally able to be free of the fear that had a hold on me for too long. Now I think it’s important to note that my fears didn’t just vanish as I stepped into my therapist’s office that day. And they didn’t just disappear after the next visit or the following ten visits after that. In fact, it’s been years since I’ve been in counseling for my anxiety and honestly speaking- the fears still come, and they go- but they no longer serve as chains around my ankles holding me back from the life that I was given. And being free of that kind of fear is where life change happens.
But as humans, we’re all going to have things that we’re afraid of, fears that keep us up at night and hold us back from becoming who we were created to be. Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced the fear of failure? Anyone? How about the fear of not being good enough? Not a good enough mom, a wife, a friend or business owner? Or how about the fear of change or transition or taking that leap of faith off the edge of comfort and into the unknown? I don’t know about you, but my hand is raised about as high as it can go. So, if you find yourself in the same boat- well then, you’re in good company my friend. And I hope you know that having these types of fears is okay because again, we’re human and we’re all doing the very best that we can. But it’s what you do with these fears that matter.
The fears no longer serve as chains around my ankles holding me back from the life I was given. And being free of that kind of fear is where life change happens.
It’s so easy to let these fears slowly creep into our minds and our hearts and over time they end up consuming us without us even realizing that it’s happening. And before we know it, we’re merely living in the shadows of the life that we were destined to live. We’re staying complacent in our jobs because it’s comfortable. We’re telling ourselves that that dream we’ve had for all these years is exactly that- just a dream- not something that we can actually achieve. We’re not accomplishing our goals because we’re letting fear plant that seed of doubt that we won’t be able to do it. Think of all the plans that we’ve made, dreams we have dreamt, futures we have planned for ourselves that simply did not come to fruition because we were too afraid to try. When I think of that- I get sad because it’s not the way that we were intended to live. That’s the way the enemy wants us to live. He thrives when we let fear run our lives and to that- I say no more.
We have only one creator and He created us to prosper, to have hope, and to give us a future where we need not be afraid. In fact, the message of not being afraid occurs hundreds of times in scripture. And I don’t think that is a coincidence. He wanted us to know that there will be fears in this imperfect world, but they don’t have to define us. They shouldn’t define us or hold us back from who we were created to be. That’s not the plan that God has for our lives and to that- I say AMEN.
I wish I could give you a five-step plan to conquer your fears but just like you, I’m still figuring out what that looks like in my life. But what I do know is that you don’t just wake up one day and suddenly become fearless. No, you have to wake up and make a choice and I hope you choose to be brave in spite of your fears. I hope you choose to walk courageously through your fears and know that He is there walking with you. I hope you find the strength to tell your fears that this is the year, this is the moment, that you are saying enough is enough.
The good news friends, is that you get to decide what your story will look like because you are in charge of your own happiness and fear can longer tell you what you can and can not do. I hope you take that leap and open up the business of your dreams. I hope you accept that job that you told yourself you weren’t good enough for. I hope you move to that city that you’ve always wanted to live in. I hope you run that marathon that you told yourself you wouldn’t be able to finish. I hope you write that book that you told yourself no one was going to read. I hope you pursue your life’s passion and you find true happiness. I hope you fly, and you soar and you embrace exactly who you were created to be. Because the greatness you were destined for is waiting for you to simply leave your fear behind.
I hope you find the strength to tell your fears that this is the year, this is the moment, that you are saying enough is enough.