My Faith/Teen Faith

Fear Transformed

I am a scaredy-cat. There! I admitted it. I am good at pretending that I’m not, but I am. The unknown scares me, I am not a big risk-taker, I care too much about what people think sometimes, and there have been many points in my life where fear got the best of me. Fear of rejection, fear of failure – even fear of success. No, I’m not kidding.

One time, in the sixth grade, I won the spelling bee and purposefully got myself out of advancing to the next round so that I didn’t have to compete in Washington D.C. and be “that girl” who won the middle school spelling bee and traveled to another state to spell words on a national level. I was afraid of being labeled as the “spelling bee girl.” I was afraid of being known as super smart. Super lame.

While I have come a long, long way since the sixth grade – or at least I’d like to think so – there is still so much that the Lord is continuing to teach me about trusting in Him. For many years, my anxiety-ridden heart held me back from accepting or pursuing many different opportunities, but as my relationship with Jesus has developed, so has my trust, and in turn, my fear is continually handed over to Him.

Of course, when said in a nice little concise sentence like that it seems like handing over your fear to the Lord is just easy-peasy, like blinking your eyes or wrinkling your nose. Well, unfortunately, that’s not the case. When you hear someone say, “surrender your fear to God,” you might think, “well, gee. Thanks. That advice is swell!” as I often did, before I really understood what they meant.

You ever notice that the word used to describe handing over your fear to the Lord is often the word surrender? That is no mistake. If you use your handy-dandy google search bar like I just did, you’ll see that the definition is something along the lines of “to cease resistance to an opponent and submit to their authority.” This word comes from the battlefields of war. Picture thousands of soldiers exhausted and covered in mud, sweat, blood, and tears. They’ve given all they have. There’s nothing left. The same can be said about our own fear. Surrendering your fear is a daily choice, and growing in trust is a never-ending process. It is not easy. It is a war.

What do I know?

You might be reading this and thinking, “well what the heck do you know about anything, Laurie?” You’re kinda right in thinking that. I’m not an expert, but I have learned quite a bit about fear and trust in the Lord in my twenty-something years of existence, especially in the last few years.

Five months ago, almost to the date, I graduated from college. I crossed the stage and shook the Dean’s hand with not even the slightest idea of what I’d be doing next. I still don’t really know; none of us really do. I knew I’d be going to California for a while to serve on service crew at Life Teen Camp Golden State, but that was pretty much it. My planner was completely blank August 1st and onward. And those blank pages terrified me. The pages that were definitely not blank, however, were the pages of my journal filled with scribbles and question marks and cries of desperation and fear of the unknown.

My first night at camp, the missionaries were led through this prayer experience as a group. It was dark and the cold mountain air sent chills through my body, and I knew what was coming from my previous experience on summer missions staff. We were going to pray over our fears. Ah frick, I thought to myself.

One by one, my fellow missionaries voiced their fears and insecurities out loud to the Lord and each other. As I sat in silence, a war raged in my heart. I knew what I had to say. I had to say it out loud. I had to face my fear, and present it to the Lord.

For a while I sat quietly, the war raging on – but the words came bubbling to the surface and poured forth. “In the name of Jesus, I surrender the fear of obedience to the Your will, and what that might mean for my life.” Welp. There it was. My mouth opened again. “In the name of Jesus, I surrender the fear of being alone.” And then, a few moments later — “I surrender the fear that I have somehow missed out on Your will for my life.” For the last time, my mouth opened, and this time a lump in my throat barely let the words pass — “In the name of Jesus, I surrender the fear of being loved intimately by the Father. I surrender the fear of what that radical love means.”

The raging in my heart quieted down to a whisper. WHOA. Did I say that? Where did those words even come from? In an instant, the storms in my heart settled, and my heart was filled with peace. The Spirit had allowed me to put into words the jumbled mess of emotions I couldn’t even really pinpoint in my own heart and had revealed to me some of the deepest fears that had plagued me in the months leading up to graduation, and in the weeks following…but He had led me away to a safe place. I was home.

What do you fear?

Fear is the result of distrust in God and is a natural part of being human on this side of heaven. Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? They were afraid, so they hid from God. They believed the lie that God was withholding goodness and knowledge from them, and they feared his wrath. But His heart broke when He said, “Who told you that?”

Just like Adam and Eve, when we are afraid, we believe some lie about who God is, and therefore, believe lies about who He says we are. When we’re afraid – no matter what we are afraid of, big or small – we doubt that God sees and knows our situation. We doubt His all-consuming love for us. We’re afraid of being vulnerable with Him because we’re afraid that if we open our hands He’ll take from us what we’re not ready to give, or we’re afraid He’ll fix things we don’t want to be fixed. Lies. All lies.

He desires union with us more than anything else. He longs to console us and wants our trust. His heart breaks when he says to us, “Who said that? Who said that I would not provide for you? Who told you I wasn’t enough?” If we really knew how GOOD the Lord is, we would never be afraid to follow Him wherever He leads us. He does not lead us through which He hasn’t gone before.

Maybe as you read this, you fear not being accepted into college. Maybe you fear your future. Maybe you are anxious about many things. Maybe you fear that you are alone, or will always be. Maybe it’s rejection, failure, or the unknown. Whatever it is, Search in your heart of hearts for the answer to this question. What are you afraid of? Do you notice any lies?

Pray it with me, friend. Come, Holy Spirit, come. Reveal to me the places in my heart that cling to comfort. Where am I afraid and hiding from God? Show me the lies.

Give it to Him.

In the name of Jesus, I surrender the fear of ________________. Fill the blank. Anytime I am filled with fear about a certain situation, I need to acknowledge that fear and say: Lord, in your name I give this to you. It seems too simple, but in presenting our fear to the Lord, we give Him permission to be there with us in that place and, in saying those words, we surrender it to Him.

Come Holy Spirit, give me the courage to call out my fears for what they really are. I renounce, reject, and rebuke the Spirit of Fear that paralyzes my life.

Who is He? Who does He say you are?

In my journal, once I’ve told God what I am afraid of, I list out in a column all the lies that are seen in this fear. That night, I had believed the lie that the Lord would withhold good things from me (a job after graduation, a place to live, community, safety, etc.). I believed the lie that following His will would leave me more destitute. I believed I was alone. Looking at this entry now, I see that I literally crossed these things about God off in my list and wrote over the top: LIES. Then, I will write out all of the truths about who God is, and who I am to Him.

The Lord desires that we know the truth about Him: that He is kind, that He *never* withholds good things from us, that He will and does provide for us daily, that He works miracles, that He is present, that He is all knowing and all capable, that He will NOT abandon us, that He will NOT leave us orphaned.

Come Holy Spirit, show me who God is. Call me to yourself. Show me how to be Yours.

Rest. Breathe. Abide. Repeat.

After reminding ourselves the truth about who God is and who He says we are (and let’s face it, I might have to do this daily or however often it is needed until it really sinks in and starts to transform my heart), we need just to breathe and abide in His love. We surrender and trust that when we ask the Lord to stretch us, He in His gentleness and mercy will do just that. We pray for His peace, His reassurance, and His guidance, and He gives us Himself – because only He can truly transform our fears and calm our inner storms.

Months later, I can say with full confidence that the Lord has transformed my fear of the unknown into a season of hopeful anticipation of what is to come. While I don’t have everything figured out, I choose daily cling to the truth that He is faithful to His promises and that He is a God of adventure – twists and turns make the journey more exciting. He is Love Himself, and if there’s one thing that I know for certain, it is that there is no fear in love.

About the Author

Laurie Medina

I am a Saint-in-progress with a missionary heart and a passion for merging Catholic ministry with mental health care. I love going on outdoor adventures, making art, listening to Penny & Sparrow, and surrounding myself with people that are way holier than me. As you’re reading this, I’m probably curled up on the sofa with a blanket reading Joy of the Gospel…or rewatching Gilmore Girls. You can find me on Instagram @wrappedinhermantle.

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