Paralyzing Fear

Will he fall?

I was pregnant with our first child in 1977.  Phil was driving our 1974 VW bug, and we were traveling at night down a narrow, curving road from Cashiers to Cullowhee in the mountains of North Carolina. All of the sudden I was gripped with fear that we would crash. I cried out to Phil to slow down, almost hysterical with anxiety. He was mystified. We had traveled this same road dozens of times and I had never shown any concern with his driving. Phil is a very safe driver – he has never had a ticket nor an accident since he was 16 years old. (he did get a speeding ticket and had an accident soon after obtaining his driver’s license at 16 – it must have been a well learned lesson !) Yet my fear was very real and I could not reason it away. Was it because I was now a mother?

This past Wednesday we were driving to Hickory on Interstate 40 and a thunderstorm burst upon us with torrential rain. Again I was fearful of being involved in a car wreck. Fear seemed to come from nowhere and consume me.  I planned to write this post about fear and how it can paralyze our minds, preventing us from sensing God’s presence. I knew the negative power of fear, yet here I was  – feeling this fear, unable to ignore it. I know I will be in my Heavenly Father’s presence when I die – but I was still afraid.

Fear can come from many sources.

  • past experience – like a previous accident
  • harmful situations that happened to friends or acquaintances
  • the unknown
  • warnings from others, “there might be spiders/snakes/bugs in there!”
  • failure
  • future
  • real danger – this is healthy fear!

As mothers, we NEED to aware of possible danger that could harm our children. We don’t want them to play near the road, jump in water above their heads before they know how to swim, or jump off the top bunk onto sharp objects.

As a grandmother, my perception of possible danger is much more acute than it was as a parent. I think this may be a universal occurrence. I remember my mother not wanting our children (her grandchildren) to play in the woods because they might get poison ivy. I recall thinking – as a child myself I played in the woods for hours and my mother was not in the least concerned! Maybe it is the years of life experience – but grandmothers are much more cautious than mothers.

Healthy fear is positive – but what about those unhealthy fears that paralyze us? Those fears that prevent us from enjoying times with our family because something bad may happen, what do we do with those?

I want to share three ways to confront fear that MAY be helpful. Notice I said ‘MAY” be helpful. Just as there are many sources of fear – there is no “one size fits all” antidote for fear. These Bible verses have helped me overcome fear, I use them often.

  1.  Confront Your Fear  When a feeling of fear grips you – recognize it. Don’t suppress it or pretend that if you ignore it , it will go away. By naming the fear – even verbalizing that fear, you displace the unknown quality that can undermine your thoughts and feelings. When I told Phil I was afraid of driving in the thunderstorm, that fear lost some of its hold on me as soon as I identified it.  This verse helps when thoughts fill my mind that I know are not good.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) ” We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

       2.  Recognize the cause of the Fear  Why am I fearful? Is the cause valid? What can I do about it? If the cause seems unfounded – that may not take the fear  away. You may know that a black snake is not poisonous, yet the sight of one still may cause fear. If the cause of my fear is something I cannot do anything about – then I must confess my fear to God and ask for His strength to overcome it.

              2 Timothy 1:5-9 (NLT)   ” 5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois, and mother, Eunice.  And know that same faith continues strong in you. 6This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.   7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

          3.  Pray – Confess God’s faithfulness through Scripture and Song   I quote Bible verses that build my faith, and I sing songs that encourage me.

“My hope is built on nothing less, then Jesus’ blood and righteousness….On Christ the SOLID ROCK I stand….”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me… I can….I can….”

“When sorrows like sea billows roll……It is well with my soul.”

The LOUDER I sing, the more it builds my faith.  This may not be what helps you. Pray about what God will use to help you overcome fear. Fear is a common concern for us as mothers and grandmothers. Yet we can win this battle through the power of our Heavenly Father.

Please share ways that God has helped you overcome fear. These will be an encouragement to others.

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6 thoughts on “Paralyzing Fear

  1. Cathy Makinson says:

    Yes….how many times I’ve talked with friends about the fear that is paralyzing them….good word Gayle!

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  2. Brandy says:

    So timely for this daughter – Thank you Gayle!

    Singing, reading Psalms, concentrating on His promises, and focusing on Him rather than the circumstance usually works for me. Sometimes we are “stuck” though and can’t find a song in our heart, then we just have to lean into Jesus and pray for Him to open our eyes to His presence. “He is bigger than any problem, bigger than anything, our God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see, bigger than any question, bigger than any fear, our God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see” (a favorite old country hymn).

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  3. gloria says:

    Thank you, Gayle, for this encouraging word!

    As a nurse beginning in the speciality area of Neonatal Intensive care, I was on duty one night when I was called to a delivery for a woman in preterm labor. I was the only one on site w/ that skill set, no neonatologist. I was new at it & this baby was only 28 weeks gestation or about 7 months. Needless to say, the fear of failure gripped me as well as inadequacy & I’m sure other fear as well.

    The Lord, being so gracious & loving reminded me of Isaiah 41:10 as I prayed & called on Him – ” Do not fear for I am w/ you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you & help you – I will sustain you with My righteous right arm” – and He did! That verse has continued to encourage & bring hope thru my life. God is soo faithful!

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  4. Gloria, Thank you for sharing that powerful verse, and the hope that we gain as we trust God. You are a living example of walking in hope and faith. In our areas of weakness, He is strong!

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