Our fears rarely remain stagnant. They either grow stronger over time or they diminish, depending on whether we feed or starve them. At least, that’s my experience. For years, I allowed anxious thoughts to control me. If asked, I would’ve said I couldn’t help this. I couldn’t just shut my mind off and avert it to something else. Or so I thought, but that was before I learned about neural plasticity.
Psychologists have discovered that our thoughts develop pathways, almost like how rainwater forms channels that deepen over time. I talk about this more fully in Wholly Loved’s Becoming His Princess Bible study (week four). In short, the more we entertain our fears, the deeper those pathways become, making it feel as if we have no rerouting control.
But Scripture indicates otherwise and encourages us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This mental rerouting takes time, determination, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit, but it can be done. We have the power, in Christ, to annihilate self-defeating, paralyzing thought patterns and to anchor ourselves in truth.
Spiritual and emotional freedom is a process acquired, in ever-increasing depth, as we grow closer to Christ, learn to replace lies we’ve believed for truth, and yield to the perfecting Holy Spirit within.
My guest today, Janet Thompson, focuses on a crucial step in this process—releasing our concerns to God.
And a fun bonus! She’s giving away a free copy of her latest release. She’ll select a winner randomly from the comments left on this blog.
Keeping Your Brave On
By Janet Thompson
We all have fears. Our hearts race. We tremble and experience a sinking sensation in our stomach.Frozen, we determine not to be brave this time.
Often fear is a healthy reaction to a dangerous situation. Other times, it’s rooted in past or recent trauma or chronic worry. Conquering a fear can offer countless new opportunities and accomplishments previously avoided, like applying for a new job after a string of rejections or flying to a Caribbean island after a lifetime of homebound staycations.
We each must face our fears if we want to move ahead in life. In my new book, Everyday Brave: Living Courageously as a Woman of Faith, I admit my long-time reaction to dogs—especially those that bark. My mom loved to tell how a small yelping beast chased me home when I was around five-years old. When she opened the front door, I ran upstairs crying and screaming. Though I no longer behave so dramatically, these furry creatures still tempt me to run the other way.
I live in a rural area where most people own dogs and I like to take walks. Heading out for a morning stroll, I pray the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and in a particular area, recite the twenty-third Psalm. I refuse to let fear stop me from enjoying my exercise. With God’s help, I overcome fear and proclaim courage over myself.
My grandkids now have a cute little dog appropriately named Barkley. Gradually . . . bravely . . . I’m getting to know him and we’re becoming good friends.
Sometimes fear of loss or harm motivates a valiant act we wouldn’t otherwise consider. We’re usually brave in situations that involve something or someone valuable to us. If you’re a mother, you would probably do anything to defend your child. Even though you justifiably fear death, you’d risk everything for a loved one.
But what about brave men and women who lose their life protecting students from a school shooter? Where does their courage come from? Maybe it’s the vow they took as a police officer or first responder to protect others at any cost. A teacher or coach often considers students his or her responsibility, just like their own children. Honor, duty, and love for their fellow man or woman, more than their own safety, empower them to act heroically.
We hear stories of those who are asked, by gunpoint, if they’re a Christian. They might consider denying Christ to save their life but don’t. Love for Jesus more than love of life resides in their heart, overshadowing fear. They say yes, and the gun goes off.
God knows we live in a dangerous world, and He knows our concerns are real. But more than that, He knows the solution to every problem we’ll face and is bigger than our every threat. He invites us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7).
Though conquering fear and anxiety can be a complex issue, often our first step is to release—to intentionally hand our worries to God and to remind ourselves we’ve done so whenever they reemerge.
A friend recently shared wise words from Mary Anne Radmacher on a wall hanging in her home: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Like my fear of dogs, is fear stopping you from doing something God is prompting?
What fear has God helped you overcome? What fear does He want you to overcome? How can you intentionally reroute your thinking off of your fears and onto God’s power and promises instead?
Get to know Janet:
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Her latest book Everyday Brave: Living Courageously as a Woman of Faith releases September 10, 2019 and is available for pre-order now!
She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.
Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.
women in the Bible. Twenty-eight women of today also give testimonies of realizing their strength and courage through God’s love. As Janet shares the stories of these women, she reminds us that the real heart and substance of bravery comes from unconditionally placing our hope in the only One who can give us the courage to stay the course.
If you struggle with Fear, I encourage you to watch the week four video for Wholly Loved’s Becoming His Princess Bible study. You can find it HERE. I also encourage you to check out our daily Bible reading plan on YouVersion titled 30 Days of Emotional Health. Find it HERE.