Updated: Feb 13, 2019
The last few years, I see more and more people living life from a place of FEAR, here are some tips to move from FEAR to Faith.
Fear shrinks opportunity, Faith creates it.
As I approached my 40's I noticed some changes in how I viewed things. I was a little more careful how I interacted with people, a little more cautious about things potentially going wrong. I got married late (in my 40th year) and there was a new sense of responsibility in my life. Something inside me developed a voice and began shouting, all the things that could go wrong, all the scenarios where there might be a bad outcome.
I use the word might, because I've learned through this season that a very high percentage of the things we worry about never actually happen - in my own experience of playing chess with fear, fear suggests he'll win around 90% of the time - the reality is the complete opposite. 90% of the time my worry was unfounded in the outcome.
By the time I was 45, Reuben had been born, and it seemed like all the more reason to worry. Work was piling up and I had taken a big promotion at work, becoming a director of the largest Christian media organisation in the UK. Staff, travel, meetings all took their toll. I remember the particular Thursday, when after weeks of busyness, a baby who cried at night, my heart began racing during a meeting in the office. It settled down, I got home and then it started again. My GP wife wisked me to the hospital with a suspected heart attack.
It all worked out, I didn't in fact die, I had the first of many panic attacks. I felt completely out of control, and as the consultant said, this is your first warning. If you don't change some things you will be back here....
One of the biggest problems I had was I couldn't immediately change things, so I spent the next few months trying to first work out how to deal with the anxiety and panics. Walking helped, praying more helped. But I found myself waking up in the early hours in a state, sweating and feeling completely anxious - how would I take control of my thoughts while sleeping ?
An easy answer for many is to drink alcohol or take meds to try and have a good night sleep. The problem is that only decorates over the cracks for a while as your body becomes immune to the effects.
If we can deal with the underlaying causes of stress and anxiety there will be no need to take anything.
In my case it took three full years from start to finish for the anxiety to stop. That would be a mixture of me changing things. We moved from the city to the country, I changed jobs, we had more quality time together, I took a sabbatical, joined a gym and changed my diet. All of that took time, but I found with each step there was improvement to the overall problem.
So to think through some of things you can do :-
Limit your social media intake before bed. Reducing anything that can simulate you brain before sleep.
Try and get into a regular sleeping pattern and eat meals at regular times.
Try to reduce your caffeine intake, and drink more water.
Take a break during work and take your lunch time, eat and have a walk.
Try and do some exercise to use up nervous energy.
Take time to read, letting your mind get lost in a story was a brilliant distraction to the apprehension of when a panic attack might surface again.
Write your fears down, and prove to yourself overtime, most of it never came true. It was crazy in my own life how extreme my fears were.
Try and pray more regularly. I used the list of fears I had as a prayer list, that helped no end.
Distraction is also brilliant, doing things you never did before. A day learning to ski or a day doing pottery. Even doing a jigsaw puzzle was wonderful.
Then looking for all the good things in life. My wife has a few sessions when I felt down of talking through how much we had to be thankful for, right down to the clothes on our back and the food in the fridge.
Focussing on positive scriptures helped to - they acted like promises when reading them, as though God was with you in the dark times. (I've listed 30 or so below).
One of the biggest problems with this list is - when you are in the middle of it, you don't have the motivation to do any of it - that's when you need a partner or buddy, to hold you accountable to the changes you need to make. If you don't keep addressing the problems, you'll make the whole experience last longer.
Always remember you are not alone. Aside of the embarrassment of showing weakness, talking about it to close friends, even strangers on occasion really brough a sense of peace. It's estimated that over half the country suffers from some level of stress or anxiety.
Have a great day today and relax, you only have one life to live - live it.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." ~ Psalm 56:3
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” ~ John 14:27
“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
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ 1 John 4:18
“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” ~ Isaiah 43:1
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” ~ Proverbs 12:25
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:34
“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7
“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” ~ Isaiah 35:4
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ~ Luke 12:22-26
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” ~ Psalm 27:1
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” ~ Psalm 55:22
“Immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'” ~ Mark 6:50
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:6
“'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” ~ Isaiah 41:13-14
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1
“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” ~ Psalm 118:6-7
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” ~ Proverbs 29:25
“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” ~ Mark 4:39-40
“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” ~ 1 Peter 3:14
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” ~ Psalm 34:4
“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” ~ Deuteronomy 3:22
“Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” ~ Mark 5:36
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” ~ Romans 8:38-39
“The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” ~ Zephaniah 3:17