One important element in recovery is facing our fears. It maybe a fear of the unfamiliar. (You at least know how to act in a toxic relationship.) Or perhaps a fear the unknown. (Is this decision to change going to really work?) So, here are some thoughts on overcoming fear:
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Confidence doesn’t always come easy to us. Some of us struggle all our lives to find self-confidence, even to the point that we are immobilized by fear and fail to experience all we cod be. How do we gain confidence and where does it come from?
In my experience, I have become more confident when I face trials or fears and come through them successfully. On January 18, 2015 during a sermon at church about the toxicity of fear, I felt God’s voice clearly calling me to overcome my fear and step out of the boat in obedience. No, he didn’t call me to be a missionary in Uganda or adopt a child from Guatemala, or move my family across the country to work in a recovery center for victims of human trafficking, although he might as well have. He was simply calling me to join the worship band at church. Now being someone who grew up singing in numerous choirs and numerous solo and ensemble competitions, it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. I should have jumped at the opportunity. But over the years, the waves of life had crashed over me, slamming me up against the rocks leaving me broken and battered. In the process, I lost my “song,” and I lost my self-confidence in those treacherous waters.
Although terrified, I obediently followed Him through the process of interviewing, doing an “American Idol” style audition with the band, all the way up to the eve of my big Sunday morning debut. That Saturday night fear hit me like a tsunami. My thoughts and fears swirled uncontrollably around in my mind: What if I forget the words? What if I hit a wrong note? What if everyone hates me and they think I’m terrible? I ended up breaking down crying in a panic attack in front of my 10-year-old daughter.
“Mom, what’s wrong?”
“I’m scared to sing tomorrow.”
“Well, just call and tell them you can’t do it.”
I love her sweet, innocent logic. Through tears I simply stated, “I can’t do that. God told me to do this and I have to obey Him, even if I’m scared.”
Even as I unknowingly taught a valuable lesson to my daughter in that moment, God was imprinting that truth on my heart as well. I went to my room and fell face down on the floor, a big hot mess drowning in my fears. I confessed to God that I was scared to death and surrendered to the fact that I couldn’t do this on my own. I needed Him and his strength. He began lifting me up with words like, “I have called you to this. I won’t let you fail. You are my child. I’ve got you.” His peace washed over me in that moment and I was overwhelmed by his love and the fact that he has called me His child. Hebrews 4:14 reminds us:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
The writer of Hebrews isn’t talking about the secrets of gaining self-confidence in this passage. That is a subject better left to someone like Dr. Phil to address, maybe in a New York Times best-selling self-help book entitled 10 Steps to a More Confident You. He is talking about the secret of having “cross-confidence.” This comes through suffering and experiencing difficult situations in life, all the while knowing that there is a beautiful and glorious outcome because of what Christ did for us on the cross. The passage is full of hope for those of us who have dealt with suffering in this life, pummeled by waves and stripped of confidence.
We are children of God, and even as we face the storms of this life, we can have cross-confidence knowing that we have a new birth and an inheritance that will never perish, a genuine faith, salvation for our souls, inexpressible joy and eternal life basking in the glory of God.
That’s something no self-help book can offer us. Like self-confidence, gaining cross-confidence involves facing difficult situations and having a successful outcome. But with cross-confidence, our successful outcome has nothing to do with self, and everything thing to do with Christ. Even if self-confidence is something you lack, you can overcome and have cross-confidence knowing that all the difficult things you face in this life will fade away when you experience the amazing gifts that Christ offers us through the cross. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the first few months with the worship band, the worship pastor unknowingly chose songs for me to sing with lyrics like:
“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.”
“No fear can hinder now the love that made a way.”
“You split the sea, so I could walk right through it.”
“All my fears were drowned in perfect love.
You rescued me, so I can stand and sing.
I am a child of God!”
Now, instead of drowning in fear the night before or even in the minutes before stepping foot on stage to sing Sunday mornings, I take a moment backstage to quietly remind myself of the ways God has rescued me when I was drowning in sin and how He put me back on solid ground. I remind myself of times He has blessed me beyond measure and opened seas up before me. I remind myself of His promises and I allow Him to whisper peace to my heart because He makes me brave. I can walk onto that stage in “cross-confidence” because I am there to worship the one who so lavishly poured His love out on me on the cross. And as a daughter of the King and a mother, the most amazing thing in all of it is that my girls are gaining cross-confidence by witnessing my journey. So you better believe that when we’re in the car and “No Longer Slaves” comes on the radio, we all belt out those lyrics at the top of our lungs with cross-confidence, “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God!”
Copyright © 2015 Faith Anne Watkins
From “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” Copyright © 2012 Hillsong Music Publishing. Written by Joel Houston, Matt Crocker and Salomon Lighthelm.
From “You Make Me Brave” Copyright © 2013 Bethel Music Publishing. Written by Amanda Cook.
From “No Longer Slaves” Copyright © 2014 Bethel Music Publishing. Written by Brian Johnson, Joel Case and Jonathan David Helser