April 6th, 2010 | 5 Comments
Most people who know me would know that fear is something I struggle with a lot. Ranging from fear of animals, to fear of trying something new. I’ll explain. Growing up I developed many fears, some of which I can pin point where and why they started, some I can’t.
For instance, I developed this irrational fear of dogs from such a young age; there was just something about them as a small child that I found terrifying. I’ve never been bitten by one, attacked by one – just merely looked at by one. The fear just developed from nothing. It got so bad that if one as much as walked toward me I would quite often cry, or hide behind the person I was with, or I would cross over the road to avoid them, or I wouldn’t go to my mates houses if they had dogs unless they shut them out of the way. It was just something about the way they looked. This sounds ridiculous to those who never experienced it, but those of you who have can probably relate in some way or another. It was hard work being afraid, not only for me but also for those I was with. We had a family holiday planned for last summer, 2 weeks in Sanday, Orkney. I would have loved to have gone; we have family friends there who I have not seen since I was 4 possibly 5, and I don’t really remember that trip that well. I didn’t go on this holiday though. I made sure I couldn’t get the time off work. I used college work as an excuse; you name it I used it. It was a horrible thing to do, and my parents were – well let’s just say frustrated with me would be putting it lightly. But why did I do all that to ensure I didn’t go? Just for the fact that she had a dog.
This fear of dogs has begun to decrease, and I can pin-point the exact day where things started to change. I was on a mission trip to Northern Ireland with my youth group, and we headed out to this house for a BBQ. On arriving I noticed not one, but two dogs. As you can imagine I honestly freaked out. I refused to get off the minibus until the leader of our mission came across and had to physically lead me off the bus and into the house. I was shaking from fear. She spent a while trying to convince me that the dogs were fine. The overly hyper one was on a chain, so that I could cope with…just, but the other one was just wandering around. She took me out to pet the doga and a few of the group came too just to show me that its fine and there was nothing to be scared of. After a good 15 – 20mins and 100 attempts to actually try and physically touch the dog I managed it; then we took the dog for a walk together up and down the drive. I guess I started to realise that they weren’t so bad. Anyway something happened later that day and the hyper dog had managed to get off the chain, and man it was hyper. It’s kind of a blur of what happened. I just remember everyone on our mission team getting around me and stopping the dog getting to me. The other leader came out and stood by me and reassured me that it was fine, and apparently they didn’t know anyone could go as pale as I did in such a short time (LOL). They prayed for me for the fear to go on several different occasions and several different pastors and people have done so also. I guess God is just beginning to heal me from this fear. Yeah, I may have a long way to go still, but I know that with God I can do it. He is my protector. And even now I can manage to actually spend the weekend in a house which has dogs in. I may still retreat or hide from them from time to time when I do still get freaked out, but it’s definitely not as bad as it was!
I had a fear of looking out of windows when its dark. This is probably a very unusual one to have, but you’ll understand in a moment or two. When I was younger I hated going to bed…didn’t we all! So I would sit on my bed peeking out from behind the curtains just watching the world go by, until my dad caught me. Now don’t get me wrong; parents are fantastic, but sometimes they don’t realise what they’re saying. Now my dad told me and my sister that if we looked out of the window and someone saw us then they’d throw a brick through the window. I know, a bit extreme right? But I know my dad loves us to bits, and he did it to prevent us from staying up late in the hope we’d go to sleep. But honestly do you think a six year old could sleep after getting told someone can throw a brick up through your bedroom window? Not this six year old! The fear just stuck with me from that age. It just shows how easy it is for people to develop fears, no matter how unusual. This fear is actually still quite relevant today. It takes me a lot of courage to even close curtains when it’s dark. Honestly my bedroom curtains stay shut constantly, so I’m still working on this one.
Another one is going out onto the sea in a rubber ring, body board, dinghy. This one is probably one of the most recent ones I developed probably about 7 years ago. We were on a family holiday in Ireland, and me and my sisters were in the sea mucking around. I had a go on one of my sister’s body board, and I was getting slightly aware of how far I was away from the shore, so I asked her to come and pull me in a bit until I could reach the bottom. Now my older sister is a fantastic sister and always enjoys pulling jokes or whatever. So she came up to me, bent down in the water so it was just her head showing and told me that she couldn’t pull me in because it was too far out, and that I was just going to have to float away. Yeah this may seem a bit extreme to you, but she didn’t mean it to scare me. If I remember rightly I started crying and panicking before she stood up and told me it was a joke! Since that time though I’ve had that fear in me.
I have had a fear of traveling. A lot of us I guess can pin point one method of traveling that scares us the most, be it flying, by train or ferry. As for me I went through a phase where I was scared of pretty much every method of traveling going. On car journeys I would sit cross legged or with my legs up on the seat somehow, just in case we crashed because then my legs wouldn’t get trapped and I’d be able to get out easily. On trains I would insist on sitting in one of the middle cars just in case we had a head on collision or a train going in to the back of us. I always felt the middle cars to be the safest, until I thought of the fact that a train could quite easily crash into the middle cars if we go over cross rails, and at that point I realised I was just being ridiculous. I’ve never been on a plane but the fear is still there. As for ferries, well one year we when we were little our parents wanted to keep us up late so we would sleep in the car overnight traveling to our Gran in Scotland. On this journey it involved a 15 – 30minute ferry crossing, so our parents decided to put Titanic on for us to watch for the first time. This was not a very wise move, as I developed a fear of ferries. I mean, come on, if a big ship like that could sink so could the little ferries, right? This fear was present for years. I would try and persuade dad to drive an extra hour to our Grans from then on just to avoid the ferry crossing. And now I live on an island which takes a 3 hour ferry crossing to get to and no way around it! So that fear has gone, but boy did I freak when I first found out that the ferry was 3 hours long! Getting over this fear I guess was done by just praying before I get on the ferry, whilst I’m on the ferry, especially if it’s a rough crossing. (And trust me I’ve been on a few of them; last weekend was a pretty rough one!) And really just by taking control of your mind, telling yourself there’s nothing to be afraid of. Actually, only recently I sat a Sea Survival course which also helped, but you don’t have to do that in order to overcome fears.
Just to prove that I am indeed human here are a couple of examples of the major fears I am still dealing with:
Speaking. Okay this may sound odd, but I am by nature an extremely shy person. Given the choice, I would remain sitting in silence rather than be the one to start a conversation. I usually talk only when spoken to (unless I’ve known you for a few years then I’m fine). I’d rather struggle with my own problems than ask for help. This developed from a really young age. You know when you are in play group or just starting infant school you can talk to anyone without any problem. Then you grow up. (This in my opinion should never be done: never grow up!) I personally was victim of bullies in school, getting laughed at if you get an answer wrong, even though you were the only one to attempt to answer in the first place, getting picked on if you got an answer right. No one likes a know it all do they! You just couldn’t win. So over the years I decided that it was easier to just sit in class and keep quiet. If I was struggling with something then that’s my own fault for not being smart enough to understand. I couldn’t ask for help: that would prove I was weak, when in fact I was just being stubborn! And of course no-one likes people who are quiet; it makes them seem odd or something. So, again I couldn’t win. Even at the age of 20 and studying a degree I will not ask for help. I’ve spent nights crying in frustration because I just couldn’t get it. I didn’t understand, and I am stubborn. I guess I could be the kind of person who, if you didn’t know me, would come across as really rude. But honestly I’m not, just extremely shy and extremely bound by this!
Praying. Now okay hear me out on this one. Praying is a huge one for me, and probably the most ridiculous fear to have. It really didn’t develop until after this one major incident that happened a few years ago. Okay, first off you all know from above that I’m extremely shy, so this prevented me from praying, and the fact that I hate asking people for help and stuff also played a huge part in this. This major event I guess that happened to knock me further into this fear was quite recent. In our youth group, we had a really close friend of ours die. He was the same age as me, and let’s just say I was smitten by him. He was hilarious and a genuinely nice guy, but he got caught up in the things of the world. He’d been away for months in a prison type place (I don’t know the correct term for it), so I hadn’t seen him for ages. Then news got out that he was home at Christmas, but I was away visiting family and wasn’t due back until after the New Year, and I couldn’t wait to get home!
But I think it was just a couple of nights after we got back that we heard a rumour that this mate of ours had died, took his own life. We had a phone call which confirmed this. We as a youth group were more than devastated, but we joined together to pray and fast and believe for his resurrection. But his resurrection didn’t happen. It was like days of hope, then it felt like he had died all over again … and again later at the wake and at the funeral.
It was tough. I shouted. I screamed. I threw stuff. I cried myself to sleep every night for ages. I sat in Church and just hardened my heart completely to everything that was being taught. After all, how could it be true when God didn’t raise our mate when He has the power? You see, I now understand that I don’t have the right to sit here and judge God. I’m not in control. I can’t demand God to do this or that. I just have to trust Him no matter what!
But since this incident I’ve had the fear that God wouldn’t ever answer my prayers, so I was scared to pray. I mean I am scared to pray. I’m scared of feeling His love for me, that He might take away the pain that’s still here and cause me to forget everything that I’ve been through. I’m scared of opening up to others. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to risk being let down again and again. I feel I can’t take any more hurt than what I have taken already. These are only a few of the things I still struggle with. Trust me there are hundreds!
But I believe that gradually, with my willingness, God will help me deal with each and every one in time. It may be a painful process reliving events that I’ve witnessed, been a part of and suffered through. Is it worth it? Yeah, I think so.
I could sit here and list all the fears I have or had, but it wouldn’t do any good and honestly it would take forever! But I got to the point where, like I said before, I felt as if these fears were me, and without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. Which is true, if I didn’t have these fears I wouldn’t be who I am today. I would be better than who I am. I would be free! I would be that one step closer to being the person God wants me to be, one step closer to being full of boldness, courage, one step closer to being that mighty woman of God who I was designed to be! I can’t sit here and say that all these fears are gone. That would be hypocritical of me, and I would be lying. But I can say that these fears aren’t as strong as they were, and they aren’t keeping me as captive as they were. I’m starting to realise that I’ve lived in bondage for years but with the help of God I’m breaking free now.
I can ask you to please not let fear rule your life. From my experience, I’ve probably had more fears than anyone. There are plenty I haven’t mentioned. But honestly, being afraid is not worth it. It’s draining. It’s hard work. And it puts pressure on your family members and friends, let alone yourself. Being free is so much better than being held back by chains. Think about it.
It’s a choice. Do yourself a favour and make the right one.
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