Fear is good. Fear is what makes you look twice when you cross the road. Fear is what drives you to re-read essays, fear is what makes you go to the doctors for a health check. However, we can all think of one situation where our healthy fears and anxieties crossed this healthy threshold and began controlling us. And uncontrolled fear is where the article is centred.
Xenophobia (The fear of the unknown) is a common example of a fear gone wrong. A fear that in and of itself is healthy and understandable. Knowing what is coming in situations allows us as humans to plan, make strategic decisions and minimise potential dangers. However, as we see in cases such as immigration people’s fears that start off as healthy grow into ravaging beasts that cease control of their minds giving loose to puppies of destruction often named Irrational, Delusional, and Selfish.
Many of our fears are rooted in real life situations that genuinely hurt us or affected us negatively. I think back to the school of friends I know who failed tests in Year 9. Often, they themselves refer back to these moments as to where they turned their educational careers around. Their fear of not applying themselves is a healthy fear that they still carry, and they allow to control their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. However, cases like these should also carry a large yellow warning sign. Often this fear (fear of failure) can drive them to unhealthy anxiety, fear of feeling worthless if good grades aren’t attained, and attaching their worth to their grades and the like. Having a healthy control of our fears is imperative.
Take the young teenage boy who is cheated on by his first love. His fear of being hurt like that again is justified, even should be advised. Relationships have a tendency to hurt us if we don’t establish healthy physical, spiritual and emotional barriers in place. Nonetheless, he too has a responsibility to manage his fears. Fear cannot allow him to view a whole sex in the same light. Fear cannot allow him to become selfish and self-absorbed on his ‘happiness’ or ‘self-growth.’ He cannot afford to allow his fear of being hurt to control his future relationships negatively by shutting down at the sniff of instability. He cannot afford to let fear control him. Doing so will prevent him from living a life as he is called too by scripture.
As someone who has struggled with self-confidence in many stages of my life looking to address my fears wasn’t something that I particularly wanted to do nor felt the need to. I had seen the effects of an unhealthy focus on past traumas and the like. There is a fine line between expressing trauma to help one understand and cope with present realities and constantly reliving past situations starving yourself of the oxygen of hope.
Sin is deceiving. Sin blindsides us most of all in the areas of our fears. Fear blinded Eve in the garden (Fear of missing out or FOMO) (Gen 3:5). Fear led to Saul disliking David. Fear of man led to Peter denying Jesus. Our fears can often be repacked by the devil as noble acts. All the men and listed above either believed their actions were noble or denied they would allow such a fear to control them. And thus, is a key point to take away. Identifying, knowing and dealing with your fears biblically is imperative in one’s mortification of indwelling sin.
Through the work of the spirit attacking unhealthy fears that distort correct views of God, ourselves and others are crucial. Without assigning truths to our fears we live in false delusions of our righteousness and correct decisions, many of which have been driven by our fears. We have to be aware of our propensity to let our fears snowball out of control. Often the fear of not getting what we desire leads to us either sinning to get it or sinning when we don’t get it.
Read part 2 on how the gospel plays a transforming role in how we address our fears and anxieties.