I’m just going to be bluntly honest and admit I’m a ninny when it comes to facing fear. I’m the girl who triple checks the deadbolts at night. I once crammed myself under the bottom shelf of my hall linen closet to hide because I thought I heard a burglar in the house. There’s still that little-girl part of me that wants to cower in the corner during an especially loud thunderstorm, and I’d just rather stay off roller coasters altogether. Fear makes me want to run and hide, to avoid whatever is scaring me at all costs. It’s paralyzing and suffocating and shuts down my sensible, reasoning side. It’s miserable and frustrating and often starts a war between my head and my heart.
What fear feels like
I recently experienced an item of clothing that reminded me of what fear often feels like. I was trying to look smooth and cool under a slim-fitting skirt, so I purchased an innocent-looking product that promised to make my lines and bulges disappear. But I was immediately concerned when I encountered the instructions—detailed words of advice that led me through dos and don’ts of how to squeeze my too-big hips into this too-small material. I’m all about sophisticated accoutrements that work magic, but if you need instructions on how to put on your underwear, this could be a problem.
I stuffed. I pulled. I did everything the instructions told me, and I may have even grunted. The physics just didn’t make sense. It (being my excess girth) had to go somewhere and it wasn’t staying in like it was supposed to, nor was the hateful garment staying where it was supposed to. When I finally got it on, it stretched from my thighs to my armpits and felt like a steel suit of armor, making it hard to breathe, much less walk. I was convinced this underwear was out to get me. It was a confusing, frustrating, suffocating experience that discouraged me.
Fear can be like this. It can suffocate us, confining us until we feel trapped and frozen. It can confuse our normally rational brains, making it hard to make a decision and frustrate us to the point of doing something ridiculous (like stuffing yourself into the linen closet). It can discourage us, making us feel a bit crazy and not at all like a daughter of God.
I used to think fear was the opposite of bravery. I also used to think if you were a good Christian girl, you didn’t have fears. I don’t think this anymore. If you are alive and breathing, you will experience fear and anxiety, and it looks different for each one of us. So if you’ve got crazy fears that you wish weren’t a part of you, relax and know that those fears don’t equate to a crazy you. You can also know that God is ready to show you what your brave can look like through your fear.