“Rediscovering Peace: Naming Your Fears” by Sheryl Gehrls
The past two weeks I’ve talked about Rediscovering Peace by taking time to just be quiet in God’s Presence, asking Him for peace. I’ve talked about reframing our thoughts by developing a heart of gratitude. Today I want to talk about overcoming fear and anxiety.
Two powerful “peace robbers” for most widows are fear and anxiety. Many widows, especially older ones, are living alone for the first time. We are of a generation who went from Dad’s home to college dorm to marriage, and for the first time ever we find ourselves completely on our own and responsible for everything.
Even for women who have been independent and competent, confident with decision-making, raising children, or managing a career and home, this can suddenly feel extremely intimidating. We may suddenly feel unsure even when making familiar decisions!
Over the years of living as a couple, a natural division of labor occurs in a marriage. He does some things; I do other things. Typically, I didn’t learn to do the things he took care of. Sound familiar to you? When he’s no longer there to provide support, encouragement, counsel, back-up, or even rescue, the door is suddenly open for fear to enter and take hold.
Will I remember to do everything he always did? Losing half of a couple changes more than half of a woman’s life. She must think differently in every category. I find myself doing what I always did and having to pick up what he always did, and I’m incompetent to do many of them.
The whispers come to our minds, and continual anxieties can easily overwhelm us. We may feel vulnerable to minor mishaps like blown fuses. Of course, we can use a phone as well as the next person, but we often have trouble making the tiny decisions necessary to get that far. “Who do I call?” “What if I get cheated or taken advantage of?” “Can I trust a stranger coming into my home?” “Will the repair be expensive?”
A succession of paralyzing questions stresses us. Will I ever feel safe again? Will I have enough financial resources? Will I need to get a job? Will God really provide for me? Will I be able to manage everything my husband did? The most competent widow can become incapacitated with too many options, coupled with the ever-present angst of ongoing grief. What often seems best is to do nothing at all! This is not a realistic option! If you can’t do what he used to do, you must learn to ask for help. Just be sure those things aren’t left undone.
If only I could see what’s on the path in front of me — or maybe even what’s just around the next bend! Not knowing chips away at my sense of security. Not being able to see where I’m headed leads to anxious thoughts, worry, and fear. While I know Scripture is a “lamp to my feet,” I sometimes wish I had a floodlight instead of a mere flashlight!!
I once heard fear defined as follows: False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is the opposite of Faith, and fear tactics can ambush God’s plan for you. Most of the things we worry about will never actually happen. While the human mind is an amazing thing, it’s also true that our minds can create giant-sized, imaginary scenarios that will never in a million years come to pass!
The Bible has a lot to say about giving our fears to God, but sometimes we wonder just how we can do that. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” So here we have our first clue. Remember when I discussed being intentional about getting quiet before God? The first step to overcoming our fears and anxieties is to recognize that God is with us wherever we go, and to ask Him to fill us with His peace.
The Scripture goes on to say in I Peter 5:7, “…casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (Amplified Bible)
One way we can do this is to make an appointment with our fears. What?! Yes, we can sit down and name our fears individually, writing them on a piece of paper, a card, or in a journal. There is power in naming things. When we can call something by a name, we get a much clearer picture of what it really is. The Bible says that Jesus is the name above every other name – above everything that has a name – things on the earth, things under the earth, and things in the heavens above.
In practical terms, this means that you can place anything you can name under the name of Jesus! So, get out your paper and pen and start making your list. His name carries authority over every other name. We can trust Him with our fears, anxieties, finances, and safety.
Have a wonderful day and may the God of Peace Himself grant to you His Peace!
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