I have been motivated to write on fear and how it limits us and causes us to live beyond our full potential by the number of people who I meet through my work who are living in captivity and fear. Fear is a self imposed prison “Fear is a prison, where you are the jailer. Free yourself!” — Bryant McGill
I spent a rare week off on the Devon Coast with my family. Whilst walking along the coast I marvelled at the wide expanse and beauty of the sea. It went on and on. As I was walking on the cliff edge I started thinking about the debate on is the world flat or round?
“When Columbus lived, people thought that the earth was flat. They believed the Atlantic Ocean to be filled with monsters large enough to devour their ships, and with fearful waterfalls over which their frail vessels would plunge to destruction. Columbus had to fight these foolish beliefs in order to get men to sail with him. He felt sure the earth was round.”
–Emma Miler Bolenius, American Schoolbook Author, 1919
One of the most enduring myths that children grow up with is the idea that Columbus was the only one of his time who believed that the Earth was round; everyone else believed it was flat. “How brave the sailors of 1492 must have been,” you might imagine, “to travel towards the edge of the world without fear of falling off!”
My mind works in an intriguing way from looking at the sea and thinking of the people in Columbus’s era, I started to think about how fear holds so many of us back. So many people in that era were held as captives on the piece of earth that they were on. They were comfortable where they were but there was a whole world out there that they could not explore and discover. If Colombus had not ventured off to sail into the unknown he would not have discovered all the far and distant lands. It is the same for many people who are kept in one place by fear.
There are so many fears that keep us bound, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of people, fear of rejection or failure.
An unknown author said that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.
At the beginning of 2015 I had a few challenges with my health. I am generally a very healthy person who is rarely ill. My father’s death last year affected me in a really deep and profound way. I have never felt such pain in my life. The emotional pain manifested in physical symptoms. I became really ill but the Doctor couldn’t find exactly what was wrong with me. He mentioned the C word cancer. He said some of the blood results could be linked to cancer so we need to be thorough! That was it! Fear took over. I know it sounds irrational but I honestly felt as if my life was over. I was dying. I started to look at my children differently, and would just start crying thinking I am leaving them. I planned my funeral, I started to think of people to replace me as my husband’s wife. I didn’t think that he could last long on his own so I started drawing lists of possible candidates. I became even more ill my body broke out on sores, I had headaches and insomnia. My symptoms grew worse. Irrational as it may seem I was petrified fear had gripped me and caused me to go through my own personal hell. Just one word from the Doctor caused me to get so ill.
I could not even plan for the future and became disinterested in work and in things that kept me motivated.
It might sound extreme but that is the reality of my false evidence appearing real. We all have different types of fear that grip and paralyse us.
I work with a lot of migrants from all over the world. People living and working in England. The Home Office has introduced a raft of changes and people are gripped by fear, fuelled by the media and others. Fear should never take control of anyone’s life. Some people are even scared to leave the house, scared to travel. I was speaking to a person at my work who was telling me about their fear, they were even scared to come to see an immigration Solicitor because they thought that the Home Office would be tracking and monitoring people entering my office! Like seriously? Do you think the Home Office have the time and resources to catch people leaving and entering a Solicitor’s office? As crazy as it sounds there are people living in a virtual prison because of fear. The funny thing is this person will have lived in the UK for over ten years. It’s not time to be petrified but to act.
Fear breeds inaction but action breeds confidence and boldness.
There is never a time when you cannot do anything there are always options. There are always options. The world is a big place. I think of Columbus who would never have discovered the world if he had been too afraid to set sail and explore beyond the horizon.
Going back to my little story of my health scare. How did I get out of the prison of fear?
I have a friend , Sue who taught me a coping mechanism she had been bought by one of the elders at our church Renewal.
She calls it the three Rs
Recognise – the first part is recognising that your fear is not real. For me it was Rumbi you do not have cancer! Yes you are ill but you are not dying, you don’t even have a diagnosis of anything.
As a Christian I see a lot of issues are spiritual battles. We have a verse in the bible that we tend to use in recognising what the problem is. It’s in a book of the bible called Ephesians 6 vs. 12
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)
I resisted the negative thoughts and fear through the word of God. The bible is the manual for me and after the initial panic I resort to the bible for comfort and strength. I spoke to myself using antidotes from the bible to counter the thoughts of fear.
I told myself bible truths such as
I do not have a spirit of fear but of power and of sound mind
Perfect love casts out fear God loves me and I know his love for me will cast out every thought of fear
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
I did not need to focus so much on healing but on recognising that fear was the controlling emotion. I needed to replace the fear thoughts with thoughts of power and control. The same applies in any situation.
I used two strategies in replacing. I replaced the focus of my mind from thinking of myself and my feeling and I also replaced the limiting thoughts with positive words and confessions.
I found something else to focus my mind on. As I was growing up my mum taught me a valuable lesson about replacing. This was a typical conversation with my mother during my early years.
Rumbi “Mum I have a headache.”
Mum” Think about something else! ”
Rumbi “but I have a headache”
Mum “yes I know but if you stop thinking about it and focus on something else it will go away.”
Then she would change the subject and I would stop focusing on the headache. It would still be there but I would not focus all my intention on me and my feelings. I ended up feeling much better.
As an adult I find myself saying that to my children and it often works. Shifting your focus does not necessarily cure the illness but it helps you to cope with the feelings. Focusing on someone in a worse situation than you really helps you to cope with what you are going through.
When I had my health scare I started to focus on helping with fundraising for a young lady called Tambu. I stopped praying for me and started to pray for her. She was in need of prayer more than me. When I started to focus on someone else I started to feel better. I started to actually cope with the situation I was facing really well.
The Doctor ended up giving me a diagnosis that was not as bad as I initially thought and it can be easily managed with medication. I am very much alive, healthy and strong!
I cannot stress how much the word of God helps in every situation. Replace the limiting thoughts with the word of God. I used the word of God to replace the thoughts of death gloom and doom.
I am victorious in Christ
I am more than a conqueror
I am strong
I am bold
The joy of the Lord is my strength
I wrote down lists of verses from the bible and boldly spoke them. As I declared the word of God I felt my fear go. It didn’t take one day but persistent repetition of the word of God helped me. I have personally found that regardless of the challenge that I am facing this strategy never fails. The word of God is powerful and alive. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4 vs. 12
We need to conquer the battle of the mind first before we conquer the physical battle.
People are going through some really serious life issues and half the battle is in the mind.
In conclusion I want to encourage you with
Joshua 1:9 New International Version (NIV)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
As you start this month, I encourage you to be strong and courageous in all that you do. Being courageous involves you taking a bold step of faith and putting your complete trust in God. Remember God did not give you a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind. If you have always been worried and fearful of what the future holds for you, well I have good news for you, for the Bible says that God has great plans for you, to give you an expected future and not to harm you. Take a step of faith there is literally a whole world out there waiting for you!