I heard once that fear stands for false evidence appearing real.  I suppose that is true sometimes but I know that is not true all the time. Our mind definitely knows how to blow things out of proportion and create scenarios that are unrealistic and leave us afraid..but sometimes we are gripped by fear because we are facing a situation that is overwhelming and very real and down right scary. I have experienced both kinds of fear in my life. The door to fear was opened in my life at a very young age. In fact, we became close friends for a time. Fear is like the friend we don't want but feel like we have to have. We want to avoid it but it sneaks up and grabs us even in the most unsuspecting moments.

Fear is a stronghold. A stronghold, by definition, is a particular cause or belief that is strongly defended or upheld. One day I will write a blog (or maybe a book!) about strongholds but today I want to focus on how fear can be a stronghold in our lives. When you hear the definition of a stronghold it sounds like a good thing...defending a belief. But, what if that belief is construed or just plain wrong? Life circumstances are what leave us with our beliefs. For me, fear was planted deep in my heart as a child and so every belief I carried came from that root. When I thought I was protecting myself from fear I was actually protecting my fear. I kept it close and was careful to try and hide it. I remember when I finally had the epiphany that I was captive to this belief in my fears. I thought if I just decided not to be afraid it would fade away. Well, that doesn't work! In order to change a belief, to let go of a stronghold, we must uproot it and then replace it with something else.

There is a difference in feeling fear in a scary situation and being controlled by fear. The wisdom comes in knowing the difference. It's normal to feel that bubble of fear when you are going to take a risk. When we constantly choose not to take any risks because of fear that is when we know fear is in charge. 1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love and perfect love drives out fear. So, maybe the reason we can't break free form fear is because we don't understand love. I know this held true for me. My belief in my fear led me to believe things about God that were not true. I believed His love was conditional and that He looked on me with judgement. If I don't believe in God's perfect love then how can I believe ANYTHING His word says? It was this realization that began to uproot the belief in my fear. When I began to read God's word believing He loves me unconditionally I began to believe that He wants only my good, and he will give me courage when I need it. The most powerful truth I finally came to was that Jesus came and conquered every fear..even death. There is no fear I can bring to Him that He has not overcome. He proved that when He resurrected from the dead. So, I must put my faith in His power at work in me, not in my frail humanity. I realized one day that if I believed as strongly in God's truth as I did in my fear I would have the courage to face anything. So, I have been going about the difficult task of digging up that stronghold of fear and practicing courage instead. It took courage to begin writing my thoughts in a blog. I knew it would make me vulnerable and that was very scary, but I knew that God was calling me to it and I believe in His love for me more than my fear. Every time I write, fear falls off and I feel free! God's love does that...not hiding behind fear.

I encourage you to explore God's love for you. As you do, your fear will make less sense and you will find yourself, as I have, wanting to be courageous and feeling more secure in that then you ever did in your fear. God has given us a spirit of love and will always walk before us. He doesn't call us to anything He has not already experienced. Read the stories in His word of people who walked in courage and faith and know that you can do that too! If God is for us than who can be against us?

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18


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