Fear is a liar…
Fear lies. Always. We can split hairs here about the healthy biological response of fear that trips your adrenaline to allow your body to fight or flight and save you physically from a threatening situation. So, saving the splitting hairs for another time: If we feel fear we are being lied to and believing it. The best lies are slight distortions of the truth backed up by years of experience and reinforced by the cultural norms of the majority of people around us. In other words, fear is:
We wouldn’t be afraid if the lie didn’t seem so real. And just because it’s ‘real’ doesn’t mean it’s true. So we’ve believed it and agreed with whatever/whomever lied to us. Take a quick skim of Genesis 3 for a snapshot of how this inevitably plays out. Satan’s influence is proportional to how much we agree with his version of ourselves, others, God and life in this world. Or as famed quarterback Terry Bradshaw advised Russell Wilson, stay calm on the big stage of the Super Bowl like its any other game because the first place the adrenaline of fear and nerves goes is to your vision and you don’t see well and throw interceptions…interesting advice for life.
The most frequent command God gives people throughout the Bible is: “don’t be afraid, because I am with you”.
This tells us at least two things: (1) God understands our propensity to fear and (2) He thinks he has something to take care of it.
But, not believing a lie and choosing to believe the truth in various situations can be a bit of a battle—a battle where our peace is at stake and therefore the very presence and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven here on earth, as I described in my last blog post.
Just like a belt can keep your pants on, truth keeps your peace on (i.e. Ephesians 6:10-17).
So, if this happens to you, where you’ve lost your peace and are feeling fear, try this:
1) Hone in on the thought associated with the fear/anxiety or lack of peace. This will lead you straight to the lie you believe. At first you may find it easier to identify the situation, person, decision or memory of a past experience that started you feeling anxious. But, these aren’t the issue as much as your perspective (beliefs/thoughts) about them. So what are your thoughts/beliefs? Ask God, “what lie(s) am I believing?”
2) Identify the truth that confronts and overcomes/replaces this particular lie. The more specific the truth the better. This can prove challenging. One of the reasons we believe the lie is because we don’t know the truth that’s more real and compelling than the lie. We may know the truth in a hypothetical sort of way but not really trust it as real and applicable in our life, in the circumstance we’re in. Don’t be discouraged, discovering this is huge and crucial in having an effective way/strategy for battling the lie. You may need some help if you get stuck here from the Spirit, through Scripture, from others, even inner healing prayer of some sort and possibly even effective counseling. More often than not, rather than asking God so much “what do you want me to do?” its more important to ask God “what do you want me to believe (about you, myself, others, my circumstances, the world)?” Ask God and see what you hear.
3) Break agreement with the lie and choose to believe the truth.
- You can say something like “I break agreement with the lie that ______” or you can just laugh about it expressing how hilarious it is to believe something that dumb. Laughter is good medicine and joy is your strength.
- Meditate on the truth and choose to believe it. This can look lots of different ways, even saying out loud or in your ‘heart’ “I choose to believe that truth that ___________”. The idea here is that our thoughts and beliefs can be pretty habitual. Breaking the ‘habit’ of certain ways of thinking/believing is like breaking other types of habits. So whether it takes you 3, 7, or 30 days to form or break habits, immerse yourself in the truth. Also, because of what Jesus did on the cross and resurrection we have options about what we believe and can ‘choose’ our beliefs. Along the way remember that Truth is a person and trust (i.e. faith/belief) is built through the experience of relationship with God and others. So this isn’t just a rote repetition of truth statements, although that may be helpful, it’s about intimacy and living life with God. So it involves fasting from certain specific lies and all that they are reinforced by and feasting on the truth and all the experiences, relationships and stories that reinforce and affirm the particular truth you are having trouble believing.
4) And before you know it you’ll notice peace resting on you and being with you again.
The short version: Break agreement with the lie and choose to believe the truth…with God.
This can feel a bit unnatural and take some focus at times. Error heavily on the side of asking God to help you with all of this and doing it all with him, rather than using your own will power/strength. (Notice a theme here?) Soon enough you’ll know who you are, who God is and the schemes of the enemy and you’ll be killing giants with slingshots.