In this article: We all have moments when fear wells up inside us. Sometimes there’s a real threat behind the fear, sometimes it’s just our imagination getting the best of us. But no matter the reason you feel afraid, this article will give you some helpful ideas for how to conquer and remove fear from your heart and mind when you don’t feel brave.
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I love so many things about fall: cooler temperatures, the gorgeous golds, reds, and oranges of the turning leaves, and pumpkin spice everything. But there is one thing that I don’t like about fall at all.
This year, my children and I noticed the first Halloween displays going up in stores in August. August, folks! I cannot understand why otherwise perfectly sane people find delight in filling store shelves and front yards with grisly displays and disturbing scenes celebrating all that is dark and sinister and creepy in this world.
There is one redeeming facet of Halloween, however. The day gives us an opportunity to consider how fear affects us – and develop strategies for taming our minds to think on all that is good, true, and beautiful, even as we are bombarded with the opposite of those virtues.
One year, when my two oldest were young, my husband and I took them to a McDonald’s Playland on the evening of October 31st. We were celebrating my birthday, which happens to be on the 31st. (I’ve always thought it was pretty cool to have a birthday on Halloween because, even as a child, I appreciated having a really fun alternative to the traditional Halloween activities). We planned to enjoy our evening, give our two young boys something fun to do, and then make a hasty retreat before all the tiny ghosts and goblins invaded the PlayPlace.
But we weren’t fast enough. Just as we were getting ready to head out the door, in swarmed the evening’s trick-or-treaters. Among the cute and harmless Dinosaurs, Robots, and Princesses, we spotted a rather realistic, albeit small, Vampire. My non-verbal son, who was 3 or 4 at the time, took one look at the newcomer’s scary eyes and bloody face and clung to me in terror, burying his face on my shoulder.
Of course, the frightening sight was all fake, just a costume, but my son didn’t understand that and had no words to express his thoughts. In his very literal mind, it was all as real as the chicken nuggets he had eaten moments earlier.
Though we tried to reassure him that it was all pretend – just paint and a mask – he couldn’t understand that. It took several returns to that McDonald’s PlayPlace over the next few months before we could walk into the building without him becoming anxious and scared.
Now, my husband and I, and even our other son, realized that the vampire costume was pretend and that there was nothing real to be afraid of. But my one son didn’t know that. We also knew that it was highly unlikely that there would be anyone with blood dripping from their mouth, real or fake, at the PlayPlace any other time than the night of Halloween. But to my son, the object of his fear was as real as anything else he had seen or experienced that night.
There was nothing to do except comfort him the best we could and help him walk through and eventually overcome that sense of fear. Mocking, teasing, or purposely scaring him again would have been unhelpful at best. What did help him was us acknowledging his fear, reassuring him of our love as we stayed nearby, and, most of all, reminding him of God’s loving care for him.
Since that Halloween night many years ago, there have been plenty of other times when we’ve had to walk with our children through things they were afraid of; sometimes things that were imaginary and sometimes very real. And often, the message I tell my children is the one I need to hear, too.
Because, even as a grown-up, forty-something mom, I battle fear too.
The Message We All Need to Hear When We Feel Afraid
Some of the things I fear are imaginary, figments of my imagination, masks-and-fake-blood.
Some things I fear are as real as the air I breathe.
All my fears have the ability to consume my thoughts and paralyze me if I let them.
I’m thankful that I have a Heavenly Father who understands my every weakness, even my propensity to fear, and has filled His Word with assurances to help me be courageous when I don’t feel brave at all. He doesn’t just tell me not to fear – He reminds me why I don’t need to!
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Can you imagine if I had forced my son to reenter the McDonald’s playland alone? If I had brashly told him he needed to be a big boy and face his fears head-on and by himself? That would have been ridiculous, downright mean, and harmful.
God is not like that.
He does not leave us alone.
He tells us not to fear because He is with us.
There are times when we feel afraid, and our fear is very legitimate. Other times our fears may be unfounded. Either way, when fear threatens to consume us, we need a strategy to overcome it. And whether we are a child or a grown-up, overcoming fear starts with reminding ourselves that we are not alone, God is with us, and He rules over all.
Biblical Encouragement Posts
I’ve found three helpful ways to remove fear from my mind and heart. They are simple enough that a child can learn to do these things, and powerful enough that they work for grown-up fear, too.
3 Tools to Use When You Don’t Feel Brave
1. Memorize and Quote Scripture.
Start by memorizing a couple of simple verses that specifically address fear. An easy way to commit verses to memory is to write them out on sticky notes or index cards, then keep them handy where you can see and review them often.
Choosing a few verses to memorize is like filling your tool bag with handy tools. When I was just a little girl, I remember my dad teaching me the simple verse from Psalms: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3). I quoted that verse a lot as a child, and I still pull out that tool often! Here are a few more verses to get you started:
- “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
- “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6)
- “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
2. Sing – out loud if you can!
I especially love to sing songs that remind me of the love and power of God. Here are ideas for a few songs that would be great to work on learning if you do not already have them memorized:
- Jesus Loves Me
- Great is Thy Faithfulness
- Power in the Blood
3. Pray – out loud, in your heart, or write in a journal.
Your Heavenly Father is not going to scold you for being afraid. He already knows what is in your heart. He remembers that we are weak and need Him desperately. Talk to Him about what is alarming you. Remember that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, and one of His jobs is to remind us of what is true about our Savior. Ask Him to remind you of His love and care for you and to anchor your heart and mind in the truth (see John 14).
Friend, don’t let fear get the best of you when you see or hear frightening things, be it a disturbing Halloween display, the evening news, or a concerning health diagnosis.
Just as you can’t stop stores from putting up giant inflatable vampires, you can’t always stop fearful thoughts from entering your mind. But, through the power of the Holy Spirit Who dwells inside you, you can take every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Quoting Scripture, singing, and praying are three helpful tools you can always have with you as you fight and overcome fear – even when, at first, you don’t feel brave.