Letting our Fears Work for Us by Dr. Judy Baus
Fall has arrived but it seems like school just got out. Parents are busy with their children looking for just the right (and affordable) clothes, notebooks, backpacks and other things needed for their children to start this new phase in their life.
I’m sure parents, children, and teachers all have mixed emotions as they face a new school year. With dread, some say, “Oh, no; school again.” Others excitedly say, “Wow, it is time for school again!” Parents wonder how their child will do academically; will he/she get along with the teachers? Will he/she be bullied, or worse yet, be a bully? The child may wonder who his/her friends will be this year. And the teacher may be thinking, “What will my students be like this year? Will I be able to impact their lives for the better?” Fear and excitement at the same time.
There is a common thread going through both the fear and the excitement and it is “uncertainty.” All through life we need to learn how to use both fear and excitement to our benefit.
We have a choice in how we handle fear of the unexpected. I was talking to a young man who was going off to college for his freshman year. I knew that the unknown was causing fear in his life. Everything would be new there—new teachers, new baseball coach, new friends, new living situation, cafeteria food, and a whole bunch of new people around him he did not know. As we talked, I saw him turn that fear of the unknown into excitement about the many possibilities.
School is not the only place where fear of the unknown causes great unease and affects how we handle situations. Many women stay in abusive relationships because they don't know what would happen on their own. They know what to expect if they stay, and they fear it less than the uncertainties if they were to leave.
The principle of turning fear into excitement when walking into the unknown is really the same no matter who you are. The Bible is our manual for just how to do this. The apostle Paul was in unknown situations all the time and here’s how he handled his fear. He said, “I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:12,13).
He is telling us to keep going forward and let go of yesterday. He tells us to stretch ourselves to KEEP going no matter what because the Lord has gone before us. The apostle John tell us who we are: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world….” (1 John 4:4).
God never wants His children to fear. He wants us to conquer our fear by speaking His truth. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). This verse shows us that fear is very real but it is not from God. By living in God’s power and love and sound mind, we can turn our fears into excitement at the wonderful possibilities.
Every day when we get up we have a choice: to ignore what God says or to live according to what He says. We can choose not to look back at yesterday and press forward toward the goals set before us, knowing God is with us. The latter will bring an excitement to our heart, even in the midst of fear and uncertainty.