What is it about fear anyway? Why is it so crippling and why do we give into its demands?

A lot of us have big dreams and ambitions and actually believe that God is powerful enough to provide us with everything we need to accomplish our dreams. This belief in God leads to the multi-million dollar question that always looms behind us – if you believe God, then why are you still afraid of chasing your dreams? It is almost a paradox. On one end, we believe we are sons and daughters of the God that parted seas and shut the mouths of lions but on another end, we cannot let the power we preach about live out in our lives…

Why is that? Why can’t our belief in God overrule our fear?

I have found that there are two levels of fear;

  • The fear that keeps you from starting
  • The fear that keeps you from continuing

In this post, I am going to focus on the fear that keeps you from starting. Maybe I’ll write up a part 2 to this and talk on getting over the fear that keeps us from continuing.

Here’s how to get over “starting fear”.

The truth is no one is ever really afraid of launching into the deep. It is not the action we have to take that most frightens us, but the indirect authority we have given to others to dictate our every move where our destiny is concerned. Over the years, we have inadvertently told people who may or may not matter that their opinion or approval of our actions determines whatever steps we take. It may not all be our fault because even before we could walk, we have been brought up to think/feel that way. Have you ever seen a parent whose best form of discipline is to very openly compare their child to another child? They can say something like “Look at your friend. She’s so quiet. Why can’t you be quiet?”  There is just something about that psychological comparison that is expected to affect change. This happens all the time and at many different occasions. You are compared to a sibling for not having good grades or compared to a friend for not being as talented. Usually, it’s well intentioned as some parents feel the comparison will drive their children to want to do better, however that idea of looking to another as a yardstick plays on our minds and esteem and carries on throughout our lives. Don’t start to think all of your issues now hinge on your parents and the fact that they always compared you to others. That’s not the point of this because believe it or not, we will grow older, have children and probably play the same comparison game.

So even before social media and the need to reach up to the level of someone putting up a fake life, we were already playing catch up. We already felt like we had something to prove to someone and when an attempt to come out better than our “mental competitor” fails, we shrivel up. Each internal unwarranted failure peels a layer of our zeal and esteem off.

You want to start something but the bottom line is you are afraid of what people will say and think. You are afraid of being rejected. You are afraid of not being taken seriously. You are afraid you will be laughed at. Whatever reason you have convinced yourself to believe is enough to keep you from starting a dream is tied to the fear of opinions. That is the bottom line.

Matthew 14:22-33

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

The scripture above is a scripture about faith and trusting God but let’s peel it a little bit and see the very human side of it. And then, we will look at the Jesus side of it.

  1. Peter wants to walk on the water but he won’t walk until He knows it is Jesus.
  2. He won’t walk until the person meeting him on the other end is a familiar face/person.
  3. He won’t walk until He knows it is safe.

In other words, He was comfortable pursuing his dream because Jesus was safe (Disclaimer: Jesus is always safe and He is the best place to put your dreams and visions because he makes them BIGGER AND BETTER). Peter was comfortable launching into uncomfortable situations because the person on the other end was a familiar face. But even so, he had to double check to make sure it actually was Jesus.

Peter is like every one of us. He is okay launching out into the deep only if he understands the end. He is comfortable walking on water only if he knows that what’s on the other end will work for him. I read this passage and wondered if Peter would have still walked on water if Jesus was on the boat and not on the water. Will Peter have mustered the same level of faith if he had to walk on water by himself? Probably not. He needed the reassurance that he will not drown if he tried to walk on water or the safety in knowing that someone else had gone before him.

We on the other hand are not always like Peter. I say this because a very human Peter with very human tendencies neglected his very human emotions when he heard Jesus on the other end calling him. Fear bows and responds to the name of Jesus. Pray to God for every voice you hear to be silenced except His. Peter was surrounded by other disciples who were scared that the man that walked on water was a ghost. Peter was just as scared but all He needed was a word and the voice of God. His posture was this – let me know that you are indeed meeting me on the other side and I am coming to you. I don’t really care about all these other men standing beside me. I just need to know it is you.

There was a moment and a decision that had to be made in that moment. Peter could have either stood with all the other men in fear or jump out towards Jesus, and he chose the latter. He chose to ignore everyone and keep his focus on what and who was ahead.

To overcome the fear that keeps you from starting, you need to be a little self-demanding!

Not the kind of demand that makes you think that it is okay to have an affair with a married man and break his home, but the kind of demand that isn’t afraid to be walking alone on water. Pursuing the dream and vision God gave you is the one time in your life you get to put yourself first provided you are in God’s will. What do you want to do? Where did God tell you to go? Why are you still sitting on the sidelines worrying about what someone else has to say?

At some point in our lives, we’ve got to be absolutely fine with bearing a vision alone. People may not understand but do we understand why we have been called to do the unthinkable? People may ridicule us but did we hear from God?

At some point, your God-given vision should scream louder than any other voice. That point may be now or it may be tomorrow. When it does appear, don’t be afraid to jump off a boat filled with doubters and walk on water.