The blue water looked like it was dancing the waltz in the summer sun as kids of all ages were splashing, laughing, and learning. My boys were amongst the sea of children that had my full attention. It was comforting to see a sense of familiarity as they participated in swimming lessons at our favorite pool.
My mind struggled with reflecting on the experiences of the past 18 months. I could feel my heart waging an inner war over what “should have” happened and the reality of what “did” happen during a worldwide pandemic.
But as quickly as this war threatened to steal the smile off my face, I looked to see my sweet 12-year-old do a graceful dive right off the diving board. Then right behind him was his younger brother doing the same.
And at that moment, I took a deep breath and felt peace.
Because here, in the loud laughing and happiness of kids swimming and the encouraging cheers of moms and dads snapping photos, I was reminded that fear can be overcome. Even in the hardest times, we can find joy and healthy ways to fight our fears and worry.
Ten years ago, my perspective of this pool was very different. I honestly didn’t know if my son, who did that beautiful dive, would ever go into the water. At the age of 2, we put him in the “tiny tot” class, where my husband and I took turns holding him while he learned to put his face in the water and splash around like a fish, all while singing silly songs.
But our experience was less than fantastic. For two solid weeks, this sweet boy screamed his head off for an entire 30 minutes.
Every. Single. Day.
And as for the diving board, he had to be lowered into the water and would NEVER consider jumping.
We laugh about it now, but the fear in him was so great it was debilitating. The poor teachers tried every trick in the book and couldn’t get him to calm down. But day after day, we stuck with it, and now you can’t get him out of the water. We knew he could overcome this, and he did.
I am learning that this is the way God teaches us.
Sometimes we come into situations where we are so scared we can’t move.
Or we move, but all we do is scream and cry and thrash about constantly. There is no way we will jump into the deep end, and even when we are lowered in, we scream and fight.
This is where fear and worry become the enemy of our souls.
We might be too fearful to make new decisions.
Life may have thrown us some bad experiences, and we are tainted in our view.
The “what if” make us feel paralyzed.
Hiding sounds better than fighting.
Loneliness settles in.
Confusion takes over.
No amount of “you can do it” feels like enough.
What do we do in these situations? How do we fight for peace and overcome fear and worry?
I am learning that we have choices when we are afraid, and these choices can make or break us. As I thought about that picture of my son swimming and all that we have been going through on personal and societal levels, I see that there are healthy habits for overcoming fear when worry is threatening our hearts.
What is Fear?
When we think of fear we may automatically think of darkness, uncertainty, and confusion.
But fear isn’t all doom and gloom. The reality is that while fear can be debilitating, it can also lead to freedom.
Fear is defined as an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous or likely to cause pain or a threat”.
It can also be defined as a feeling of anxiety concerning something that hasn’t yet happened.
Another definition of fear is also “having a healthy respect”.
Since fear can be rooted and grounded in our beliefs, it is important to remember that God is the one we should hold our trust in. Not ourselves and certainly not our circumstances.
Healthy Habits for Overcoming Fear
*Dwell The Word of God has an incredible way of dispelling our deepest fears. When we dwell on His words, we allow our hearts to meditate on what is good and right. God doesn’t want us to be fearful, but courageous. Allowing our minds to rest on His promises calms our anxiousness and reminds us who is in control.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you”.
*Claim God’s Word is full of promises. These promises are for us and about his character. He reminds us over and over that he is loving, faithful, forgiving, and compassionate. As we are confronted with anxiety and fear, we can fight our emotions with words and statements that align our focus to his promises.
Lord, today I claim the promise that you are _____________________. You see what I am dealing with and walk with me. Help me to remember ___________________________________________.
When we claim these promises, we focus on the result of God’s goodness rather than the details of the circumstances. This is God’s desire for each of us–to live in His abundance, rather than defeat.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
*Pray As you claim His promises and spend time in Scripture talk with God. He isn’t surprised by our feelings. He knows what we are feeling and when we humble ourselves before him, we are allowing Him to take control. Fear can cause us to want to fight because we want to escape the feelings. However, God calls us to rest and instead allow him to fight for us.
The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent. Exodus 14:14
*Focus When you are fearful, what is your focus? Is it what “might” happen? Is it that what happened in the past will happen again? Maybe it is frustration on the inability to “fix” the problem. These all become ways that our enemy, the devil, tries to distract us.
If Satan can’t take away our faith, he will try to surround us with doubt.
Studies have shown time and again that those who practice gratitude have a significantly lower amount of worry and fear in their lives. They can see the big picture and focus on the blessings that God brings rather than the monster looming in their minds.
Making daily or monthly lists often helps to remind us of the ways God is present in our lives. This daily practice takes our eyes off of ourselves helps us remember God is with us.
…for God gave us a spirit, not of fear but power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:6
*Persevere Remember that overcoming fear won’t happen every time. But we can fight with victory when we remember that God is with us each step of the way. As the frustrations of fear and worry threaten to overtake you, just as the fear of my son being in that pool, keep your head up.
Perseverance is a decision to press onward when the road is hard. God whispers his promises to keep going with us and runs with us through it all.
…let us run with endurance the race set before us… Hebrews 12:1
You Can Fight Fear
Through these healthy habits, you can fight fear when it threatens to overtake your heart. Life will never be free from fear and worry. But reframing our focus to include God and His word will forever change your approach and let you walk in peace and freedom.
You got this, Sister, go be courageous!!
**If you are looking for additional resources to encourage you as you overcome fear, you might enjoy reading 4 Tips for the Working Mom Who Feels Overwhelmed or checking out my shop at Trees and Stars Co