Shed the Fear

Jan. 7, 2014 • Posted in Blog

freeIt seems that making New Year’s resolutions is passé, and the trend du jour is to define one’s attitude toward the year in a single word. As it turns out, there’s an entire book and website devoted to this concept. I guess I’m late to the party (but not fashionably).

I’m not fully on board with the idea that one word can change a life (except perhaps the name Jesus), but I like the notion of looking into the future hopefully. So I spent some time today thinking about what I hope for in the year to come.

For a word person, narrowing hope down to a single symbol is no easy task. Still, I picked one: fearless.

I started with courage. Bravery in the face of adversity. Living well when you don’t feel like it. Choosing the road less traveled. Pulling on the Spandex Spidey suit when the bullies come to town. Perseverance with a smile.

But then I got stuck, because courage largely exists because of fear. Courage represents a certain kind of strength that I admire and often need, but I want to learn how to live above fear. I’m tired of spending so many hours of my day fretting. What if my child never gets well? What if this relationship can’t be mended? What if there’s not enough money? What if I’m wrong about EVERYTHING? What if, what if … even while Jesus whispers “Be anxious for nothing” from the depths of my heart.

What if I had a kind of courage that was motivated by love instead of fear? What if fear was not the driving force in my personal story?

Is this humanly possible? Some will say no. The human race survives because of fear. Otherwise we would have been wiped out a gazillion years ago by the prehistoric tigers when we tried to scratch their cute ears.

Okay, so maybe I’m looking for a both/and kind of fearlessness. I have no plans to drive my car at top speeds into a brick wall, as Jeff Bridges’ character heartstoppingly (and somehow poignantly) did in the 1993 film Fearless. But I just wonder a new kind of what if.

  • What if I stop fearing the consequences of having less control over my own life than I want, and instead believe that Christ’s loving strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)?
  • What if I always bring my best efforts to the table because I’ve learned how to love the people I serve, and not because I fear failure or their disapproval?
  • What if I obey Jesus’ teachings because I love him and believe he loves me, and not because I’m afraid I’ll be damned if I screw up?

This is only the beginning of a long list, a hunch that fearless courage would give me a new perspective on the world, on the people who share it with me, on the God who loves us all.

When my son was born my mother told me she’d been praying for him, that he would grow up to be fearless. I think I joked, Oh no, please, not the X-Games in his future! But I see in him the kind of fearlessness she was speaking of: Freedom from the nail-biting dread of anxiety. Joy. And though he is only five, I see the joy of that freedom in him already, and I look to him for his childlike example.

What kind of fear would you like to give up this year?


Photo credit Alice Popkorn



  • Ian says:

    Oh so many similarities between us, my friend. 2013 was a tough year for me re: fear/anxiety but I feel such hope about 2014.

    I read a couple of things recently that helped me. I think you’d appreciate Brene Brown’s work especially if you look into her a little. One thing she quotes is: ” It’s okay to feel afraid when being brave.” and then the other day Ann Voskamp wrote something on fear and one quote was “Fear is always the first step of faith” in her “Happy No-Fear New year” post.

    Interesting about your son. I prayed my 2 boys would be courageous and Dan, my eldest, is absolutely fearless. You son will help you be brave.

    I’m always reminded it’s about taking that first step, yes, it’s scary, but take it as the Lord steps with us. Then take another step and …

    Be assured of my prayers and cheers.

    Grace and peace.

  • erin says:

    Thanks for sharing your hope, Ian. Also for directing me to Brene Brown and Ann Voskamp. Much of my readings keep bumping into those two, which probably means I need to read them more deeply now. Isn’t it amazing how children can help to bring out the best in their parents? At least, that’s how I choose to see it.

  • Karen Wiser says:

    “‘What if’ I only had a little while”..WAS the name of my blog. However, I figured out that it was a “fearFUL” question and that, in reality, we really “Only Have A Little While” and we have to use that time to point people to Christ…hence the blog name change to “Only~A~Little~While”. That’s what you are doing Erin…and most certainly you are doing it FEARLESSly!! Thank you so much!

  • erin says:

    Thanks, Karen! What you say makes great sense.

  • After hearing an excerpt of this blog post read on Sat., I had to hop over here and read it all. Seems like the Lord is almost daily confronting my fears. Fear of another car accident. Fear of not being enough. Fear of success. Fear of taking the wrong path. Fear . . . it’s ridiculous. But I love that He is also showing me the breathless adventure life can be with Him, the fun that comes from stepping into new places, the impact of life lived confronting fear with HIS perfect love.

    I’ve been praying that I can experience HIS love more fully. Last week I was sharing some of this journey with my husband. As my tears flowed he welcomed me into his arms and simply held me and prayed over me. As I rested there three words came to me over and over: Safe. Warm. Loved. After some time had passed I felt the Lord ask, “What are you afraid of?” I didn’t really know, but I allowed Him to lift a layer of that fear away, to bathe it in love, to remind me that I am safe. loved. warm.

  • erin says:

    The walk away from fear and into love is an ongoing journey. So happy to be on it with you, Paula!

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