Being a newbie to Kiwi life, I am learning and observing lots. One of those things that I knew of beforehand is how much outdoor activities plays a part of every day life and leisure time. There is a difference between knowing these things and then experiencing them. Although, I will never claim to be a sporty person, I certainly love being outside and being active. So when the youth were going on a bike trail this week, I was pretty excited. I thought that a lovely Sunday cycle through the town with a little breeze in my hair and little chats along the way would be a relaxing way to start the week. Sure, I thought that there would be challenging times since Oamaru is a town built on steep hills but I didn’t really antcipate the trail that we ended up taking. It wasn’t like we were biking on the edge of a cliff or anything like that but it was quite a narrow trail through a forest with lots of bumps and steep tracks. As the teens whizzed past me, I began to realize that I was cycling out of my comfort zone. It made me fearful, not only of nosediving into the ground, but what others may think of me. I had to make a decision of how I was going to respond to this, would I allow fear to cripple me?
We all face fear in various forms and at various stages of our life. Some may include a fear of physical harm and others coud be inward that nobody even knows about it! But this is what fear can do:
Fear can immobolise you. Every been in a situation where you know what the right thing to do is but too afraid to step out and do it? I’m afraid what they will think of me. I’m afraid I won’t succeed if I put myself out there or give it a go. I’m afraid I will hurt someone or step on their toes. I’m afraid I will be lonely. I’m afraid my friends won’t support me. I’m afraid my parents will be disappointed in me. I’m afraid. Fear can make you ineffective in your workplace, at school, in your dreams and can stunt your personal growth. So why does it have such a strong hold of us? How can we be brave? Does having courage mean that there is an absense of fear though? I am just thinking through these thoughts myself so don’t necessarily have the answers for you right now.
Fear can tell you lies. Most of the time there is some sort of lie that you are believing in when you allow a fear to take hold of you. I am not good enough to do this task. I will look silly or crazy. I might die if I attempt that activity. As a christian, I wonder if its a way that Satan uses to make people ineffective in living fully for Christ. Perhaps we are believing in some of his lies but that is somthing that you need to ask yourself. Whatever it is that isn’t true, sometimes it is strong enough to rule our lives and I guess that brings me on to the next point in that it can make you a slave to fear.
Fear can make you a slave to it. All week I have been playing a song which includes the lyrics ” I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” If a fear saturates your thinking and effects your decisions then I guess you are to some degree, a slave to it. Reminders of who you really are ( a child of God) , and identifying the lies of that fear, can empower you to say no to it.
Identify the fear. Sometimes we have a feeling that unnerves us or makes us uncomfortable but not quite sure why. In order to know what we are really up against, then we need to know what it is. Ask yourself (and others) questions about why you might be feeling that way in such a circumstance. What exactly am I afraid of in the instance? One of the best books I ever read about the fear of what others think is called “When people are big and God is small.’ That book will definately help open your eyes to those fears and identify how they come to fruition in every day life.
Fear can isolate you. I could have let that fear during the bike trail manifest into being isolated from that group and activity. It made me feel uncomfortable to be at the back of the group and it saddened me to feel disconnected from a youth activity that is different to what I am use to. I felt like a foreignor and I think that bothered me too. I admired this group. They seemed fearless and hardcore, and are certainly a lot cooler than I am! We can allow fears to isolate us in many ways. If we don’t push through these feelings or thoughts at times, then we can be left out of connecting with others or without being challenged, and challenges produces growth! Sometimes we can feel isolated if we keep a certain fear to ourselves and are even afraid to express that fear to others! But expression of fear can connect us with others because it shows our human side and it points us to a God who is bigger than all of those fears! So verbalise to even just one person and encourage one another to step out in courage. A few of the ladies at the back encouraged me with words to keep going and how they found it scary during their first attempt. I’m not sure if I believe them but they were rooting for me when I told them that I wasn’t use to such biking trails!
Fear keeps you from full contentment and joy. Being a slave to fear will always carry bondage that is burdensome and heavy. Because it encompasses your thought life as well as actions, it is hard to escape and unhealthy to run away from. But how freeing it is, when you begin to embark on something that is scary yet you are trusting that God is with you for every step. When you are humble and honest about your fears, then you are invited to enjoy the benefits of that choice. It brings true freedom, true joy and true, lasting contentment. Isn’t that much more better than the life that is hidden behind your fear? Isn’t that worth it to push through? Isn’t a life trusting in God worth all the unknown along the way that life can bring? I really do love the life that I have right now but I can allow my fear of the future to rob the contenment and joy from the present of today. Are you?
Such a big subject and perhaps I will write on it another day, a few years along the way and see what I have learned. For now, I want to end this post with saying. Listen to God. Listen (or stop listening!) to what others say. And stop listening to your fears! He can strengthen you for whatever you face. (Phi.4.13)