Photo Credit: Brianna Mullett
Ahh, the weather is turning crisp, the leaves becoming a 3D canvas of vibrancy, and pumpkin, cinnamon, chai lattes and London Fogs—my personal favorite—are presented in the coffee shops everywhere. It means quality time with friends, Thanksgiving just around the corner, and while the outside is cold, evenings on the inside are filled with warmth, family, laughter, and a soothing cup of fresh apple cider accompanied with a book with your favorite playlist playing softly in the background. For those of you who also rank fall as their most favorite season, you are feeling like doing the “happy dance” right about now. The environment is simply cozy, inviting, and inspiring. If anyone could find a way to bottle up these feelings, they would be rich indeed. However, in the midst of this seemingly content humanity, all is not well. This tiny word lies beneath the surface in many hearts…secretly plaguing many lives.
Know what I’m talking about? Well, just keep scrolling.
Words are powerful. At times, a single word can make your heart soar like an eagle; while another can completely obliterate your world. The word I’m talking about is no respecter of persons. It is found in the hearts of both young and old, the weak and strong. At some point, we all have faced this subtle but tenacious beast:
I’m talking about fear.
Now, when I share about overcoming fear in the paragraphs below, I’m not sharing because it is something I have so bravely conquered, and so now I type up a blog about how ‘miraculous me’ has defeated it. Rather, I write this because fear is something that has been in my own life, and because I have a passion to help people who struggle with it as well.
Here are 3 facts that I’ve identified about fear:
1. It’s hard to detect.
Fear will wiggle it’s way into our hearts so quietly, it surrounds us like a fog, and we never know. After being taught that it’s not us, but rather Jesus in us that gives us strength, we may swing over to the other extreme and think we can just burry our heads in the sand and not have to fight at all. Like the quote I saw on a mug the other day: “Keep calm….and trust Jesus”….But that is only until it is too late. Soon an unexpected tragedy comes along and then we get a cold splash of reality. We are caged in fear’s dungeon; caught in it’s trap. When all along we thought we were invincible.
But then, I wonder, why is it so hard to detect? I believe it’s hard to detect because…
2. Fear is perfectly logical.
Yes, I have faced this giant of logical fear. My hardest struggle was when I was 12 years old, watching my hero-big-brother going through his second heart transplant. All the pain, the weakness, the meds, the struggle for life. The search for hope even while all life seemed hopeless. As I watched, I asked myself “Is this what I have to look forward to in a few years?” The doctors openly told me that I was fortunate for my own transplanted heart to be doing as well as it was for my twelve years. Their words, although unintentional, fanned the already dancing flames of my fears. Miraculously, Austin beat the odds, surviving the heart transplant surgery, then the recovery, and our family was back to public singing and traveling…back to normal. Then the unthinkable happened. After six months of normal life…he died suddenly. The doctors had reasons, the doctors had theories…but all I knew was that my brother was dead and I wanted him back.
That blow brought me to my knees, trying to see past the tears, attempting to glue the shattered pieces of my heart back together. Now, not only did I witness my brother’s fierce battle through the critical and tedious surgeries and procedures, but in his death, I realized how finite the doctors are. These were the people I could trust; the professionals– the best of the best–and not even they saw it coming. If I didn’t have fear before, it was a close companion now. And I felt alone.
Yes, fear is usually logical.
If you have faced cancer, abuse, miscarriages, health problems, bankruptcy, broken relationships….No one can blame you for wanting to live the rest of your days eating chocolate and peanut butter bars, huddled under a mountain of blankets, in the shelter of a far away cave (like I’ve secretly felt like doing at times). Your fears make so much sense. Because 1 and 2 happened, 3 and 4 is surely to follow. It’s logical. Logic that even a twelve year old can understand. Austin had a heart transplant, I’ve had a heart transplant. He faced cancers and many other health challenges until his new heart wore out, and he needed a new transplant. I am only 4 years younger than Austin and doing “extremely well” for how old I am, which means it can only get worse from here. In four years, I’ll be in the same place.
Now, before you think I am giving you the go-ahead to stock up on chocolate bars and become a caveman (or cavewoman!), let me ask you this: When you fear, what are you NOT doing?
Basically, you’re not trusting.
3. Your fear may be logical, but it’s just not worth it.
Other names for fear are: alarm, horror, panic, or terror. The dictionary describes these as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” The exact opposite of these is trust.
The dictionary defines trust as “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.” Could these two be any more opposite?
Ok, so back to my story: I was slowly becoming more and more enslaved by my fear. I was angry at God, built walls around myself and didn’t let others get close to me (because after all if you don’t love people, then you won’t be hurt when you loose them, right?) My parents saw how fearful I was. I’m so thankful that they were able to gently ask questions and probe. It was a journey, but I slowly began to realize that Austin was my example in every way: How to live life well, how to trust God, and even how to face pain and death with courage. I eventually overcame the fears of the future and of pain and death. This doesn’t mean I never struggle with fear, but I am getting to know my awesome and powerful God deeper, and I’m learning how to cling to Him when that old enemy comes knocking. After all, as I look back on my life and the nearly six years since my beloved brother’s death, I am able to see how God was with me in the past, how He is with me now, and I know He will be with me in the future.
I cannot give you answers to your questions, nor can I hand you a list titled, “How to Eradicate Your Fear in 6 Easy Steps”. Sadly, it does not work in such a cookie-cutter way. All I know is that the same God who is helping me to overcome my fear is also with you in your journey. I would encourage you to get the correct perspective of how big God is compared to the fear that’s in your heart; realize how God defies all logic when He appears in a story. Then after you have the head-knowledge of who He is, allow faith to step in. The faith to accept truth, the heart-knowledge, even when you are walking through the down days. Don’t allow the demons in the dark to paralyze you. Rather, let God guide your next steps; be in the necessary decisions you make. And then? Prepare to stand bold in the face of the impossible.
– Alisha Mullett (for the Mullett Family)