It's nearly 2 am and our loved one has not made it home as planned. We call. No answer. We text. No response. We wait. Now it's 2:03. We call. No answer. We text. No response.
Our adrenaline increases and our body begins to respond to our imagined fears. We picture a gazillion scenarios in our heads. A wreck. A kidnapping. Drinking and drugs. We may even feel a bit of anger and disrespect sprinkled into the mix, especially if this has happened before or repeatedly.
Or maybe for you, your mind has been conditioned to respond negatively every single time you hear the phone ring because once that ringing brought horrific and devastating news. Just the sound of the phone especially at an odd hour makes your heart race and your mind run on overdrive.
Or perhaps you keep a keen eye on the weather channel and you become positively swept away mentally by the chance of a tornado, hurricane hit, severe and strong wind alerts, negative and freezing temperatures. You brace yourself in a frenzy of reeling thoughts and emotions.
Or say you live in a country threatened daily by bomb raids. Maybe your ministry is based in an anti-Christian area. Perhaps your job comes with tremendous risk and potential for bodily injury.
Maybe you fear flying. And what's with all the crashes of late?
I think you get the picture.
From the possible death of loved ones and fatal accidents to pending or probable sticky issues like threatened job loss and family separation, if we are not careful, we use our imagination to fuel the flame of fear instead of extinguish it. Our thoughts and minds become a toxic, chaotic soup, and we disconnect from the Truth. This leaves us vulnerable and emotionally unprotected.
Fear is a familiar, pervasive root for many individuals, and it's no wonder that "take courage" and "do not fear" are such common admonitions in the Bible. As a society we enjoy identifying and naming our fears which essentially and unwittingly may give them a life and power suit of their own. There is, after all, a phobia for practically everything. Truly, some fears are debilitating and positively crippling for certain individuals.
Some of us choose to use our imaginations to expand and perpetuate the fear which destroys our peace and robs our joy. When we allow imagined fears to take center stage in our minds, we miss out on the opportunity to stay grounded in the Truth. The point here is not what the fear is but rather how to overcome it. Some of us have much work to do in this arena.
The good news is, however, that we have a choice in the matter. This means there is hope for change. Just as we can choose to engage our imagination in negative, harmful ways, we can also lock our imagination into gear in positive, healthy ways. We can train our minds to shake off fear when it comes creeping up our back with an aim to cover our heads, close our ears, and blind us.
Let me give you a personal example of how this works.
I used to have a slight fear of crossing bridges. I think it may have started several years ago after I had a toxic dream in which I had all four of my young kids in the van, buckled under seat belts and fastened into car seats. As we were crossing the bridge, it suddenly collapsed and sent my van nose-diving into the water. It was a horrific, traumatic nightmare to say the least, and from that imagined experience I developed a negative association and conditioned response when crossing bridges.
Thankfully, I can tell you that I have trained my mind to recognize and arrest the fear when it comes calling. At first, however, I felt powerless. I willfully replayed all of the imagery and sounds and frantic desperation of my nightmare. I rehearsed and rehearsed what happened in my dream which in turn affected my actual reality. Each time I so much as approached a bridge when driving, I felt my heartbeat increase and I imagined the bridge collapsing as I was crossing. I found myself speeding up to cross as quickly as possible.
Now, I am happy to report, I use Truth to trump whatever fears erupt in my thoughts and mind and are channeled into my brain. As I approach the "bridges" of my life, I remind myself that my loved ones belong to God. They are His. He is enough for them just like He is enough for me. I recognize that although I do not want to lose those I love, each individual is appointed a day to pass from this world. I pray daily for protection in body and mind and spirit for all my loved ones. I pray that God's purpose for each one of us be realized and brought to full fruition in our sojourn here on earth.
I remind myself that although God's providential will allows for many horrible atrocities and tragedies on this earth, that we are never alone if ever we are pressed to walk through the flame. I also recognize my fear and ask Him to rewire my brain to rest in His strength. He did give us Christians the mind of Christ. Shouldn't this come in to play here?
Then, believe it or not, I push myself toward gratitude.
I thank God for each "bridge" He has given me because it creates an opportunity for me to choose. I thank God that I can use my imagination to turn my eyes toward God, take His hand, and make it to the other side. Every internal and external conflict we face offers us an opportunity to glorify our Creator or not. When we choose "life," we find life. When we choose "death," we find it.
I am grateful that "bridges" remind me to live in the NOW moments of my life. An interesting thing happens when I start thanking God....the fear loses momentum and power. I've redirected my mind to God, His will, His ways, His truth. I am thankful that "bridges" can lead me to a closer walk with my Creator. The more I rehearse the Truth, the more I believe it.
What is your biggest fear? How do you cope? What Truth trump cards do you use to strengthen you and give you courage? I would love it if you would leave a comment below! Let's talk about it!
Also, next blog post will wrap up the topic of our imagination.
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Finally, a disclaimer: Obviously, I am no trained psychologist or counselor. I recognize that some of us might benefit from talking through our fears with a professional. For me personally, the practices of capturing the lies in my head and mind and not giving way to negative imagination have brought me deep healing and restored hope in my Christian walk. And I want that for you, too!
Therefore as you have received
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