I understand that the Fear Factor is trying to make a comeback on national TV. You know, that reality game show that makes people do crazy things by having them face their fears through bravery or stupidity (you choose). Oh what people would do for the chance to win loads of cash. Facing our fears is nothing new, though.
I had the opportunity to watch Green Lantern the other night and saw one theme that ran throughout the movie. Facing your fears. Fear of what? Of death. Rejection. Intimacy. Failure. All of these fears were prevalent throughout the movie, and the main character, Hal Jordan, had to overcome them in order to save the world. Of course, he did it all rather quickly, too. Amazing! For most of us in the real world, overcoming fear takes a bit longer…probably because we don’t have the fate of the world on our shoulders either. Whew! What a relief.
In all seriousness, we know from the wise words of Yoda that fear leads to the dark side, so we want to make sure that we overcome fear in order that we do not turn to the dark side of depression, hopelessness, or anger. So here are some steps to overcoming fear:
1. Identify the Fruits of Fear: Fear, which is rooted in the heart, produces certain actions and behaviors. What are your patterns of behaviors when you are uncomfortable, anxious, or in a situation with which you are unsure? Do you bite your nails? Sweat? Yell at others (to control others and the situation)? Do you clean and get organized (control your environment)? Do you eat more? Sleep less? Sleep more? Withdraw from others? Put your wall up? Try to please people? Think or obsess on your fear? These are all your fruits or actions that evidence fear and anxiety in your life.
2. Look at your Heart: Your actions are providing a glimpse into your heart, even if you don’t know it. The heart (and mind) is where fears are rooted. When you can identify your fruits of fear (step 1), that is when it is good to stop the actions and ask yourself: “What is it that I am afraid of? What do I fear?” Common fears include fear of rejection, fear of being abandoned by those who love you, fear of being hurt physically or emotionally, fear of losing control, fear of being a failure, fear of the unknown, fear of suffering, fear of death, etc. These fears often play out in the mind and effect sleep patterns, but sometimes they are pushed out of the mind and are demonstrated physically without knowledge of what’s going on in the heart or mind. This happens with panic attacks where the body acts all crazy (heart racing, breathing heavy, sweating, etc.) without any thought or acknowledgment of any fear. Then, often the panic attacks become the fear in and of themselves! Even so, it is important to get to the heart to identify what is at the root of our surface behaviors or physical responses so that we can work on permanent change.
3. Face your Fear through a Relationship with your Savior: I Jn 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Fear does not come from God. But perfect love does. Fear has to do with punishment and suffering. Love has to do with peace and rest. Fear involves enslaving someone to itself. Perfect love has to do with freedom from subjection. When we confront our fears through our relationship with God, fears dissipate and hopes lives on. When we choose to confront our fears, we need to understand that we are unable to adequately do so on our own. We need perfect love. We need a Savior.
My next blog will take a closer look at how a relationship with the Savior will help us see the truth behind John’s statement: “Perfect love casts out fear” and help make fear an uncontrolling factor in our lives.