When Fear Shakes Your Life

27 Oct

Woman - AerophobicMy (Dawn’s) friend Judy Scharfenberg wrote on Facebook this week: “Ok, so I bought a Reader’s Digest magazine to read on the plane trip to Oregon tomorrow. “Lead story: “50 Things Your Pilot Won’t Tell You!’ Hmmmm.”

Now there’s a scary thought. I don’t like pilots (or doctors) keeping anything from me!

I don’t ever, EVER want to hear a pilot say, “Oh, no!” … or “OK, let’s see if this works”… or “Heh, heh, heh. Ever heard of an E-ticket?”

Comedian Bill Cosby once said, “I’m not afraid of crashing. My secret is, just before we hit the ground, I jump as high as I can.” Somehow, that does not bring me comfort.

Personally, I love flying. I wanted to be a stewardess or join the WAF Corp. (Dad nixed that.) But have you ever seen anyone with aerophobia (fear of flying)? It can be a distinct phobia, or in combination with claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or acrophobia (fear of heights); but regardless, the anxiety is so great it can (worst case) cause panic attacks or vomiting.

Though we laugh at airplane humor, aerophobia is not a laughing matter! I once watched a young man with mild aerophobia. He entered the plane and turned around and exited again. He did this twice. He told the stewardess his sedative hadn’t kicked in yet. Poor guy. By the way, people with deep-seated  anxieties need our compassion, not our condemnation.

The true is, all of us have simple fears. Some of those fears are good ~ they protect us! But when fears turn into obsessions or phobias, we can’t ignore them. We need to effectively deal with unreasonable fears so we can move into a more productive state of mind.

I am not going to address the controversial issues of medications here (there are many), but I do want to recommend four good books .

Untie the Fear Knots of Your Heart* by Dr. Ken Nichols is a new book with some great advice. In one section, Nichols, founder of ALIVE Ministries, writes, “Anxiety seems to be the official emotion of our age, the basis of all neuroses, and the most pervasive psychological phenomenon of our times…. occasionally, there’s a real threat, but our anxiety keeps humming, even when the threats are past.” [Emphasis mine.]

Elyse Fitzpatrick, a counselor at The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship in La Mesa, California, wrote a helpful book titled Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety* that is packed with information. She addresses how to understand fears and their source, and then offers God’s answer for our worries and anxieties. Her chapter on “The Security of God’s Sovereignty” brought me great comfort in a tough season of fear.

In Taming Your Fears*, Carol Kent said, “Worry and anxiety give a small thing a big shadow.” Can you visualize that? There might be real fear-producers in our lives, but if our emotions are always ramped up ~ if we are not focusing on God and living in peace ~ we won’t recognize when a seeming stress-producer is really a simple shadow on the wall, much bigger than the real thing.

I started this with a “funnie”  from a Facebook post by Judy Scharfenberg. Her book, Secure Families in a Shaky World*, will help women grow healthy families. Being prepared to face life’s tough times can help ward off those little everyday fears!

The Scriptures are full of comfort and advice for dealing with our fears, worries, and anxieties. Here are just a few passages: Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 12:2; 26:3; 41:13; Psalm 23:4; 27:1-2; 34:17; 46:1-2; 56:4; 112:7; Prov. 3:24-26; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 15:13; Philippians 4:6-7; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18a.

The Lord also gives people practical wisdom in life ~ discernment for conquering anxiety in our culture. How do you deal with unreasonable fears? With pent-up anxieties?

* Ken Nichols’ book, Liberty University books, 2010, p. 53; Elyse Fitzbatrick’s book, Harvest House Publishers, 2001;  Carol Kent’s book, NavPress Group, 1993, p. 55; Judy Scharfenberg’s book, WinePress Publishing 2010.

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