Fear: Do You Tend to React or Respond?

fear word in wood type

Fear…

: to be afraid of (something or someone)

: to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)

: to be afraid and worried

Fear… it’s not always something that consumes me. Sometimes it’s just a nagging thought. Many times it’s related to my children and trying to figure things out for them (even though they are all grown adults now). I noticed it recently because I found myself worrying about a situation and then seeking to work up a plan in my head on how to “fix the situation”. I was turning it over and over, looking at every angle, playing out various scenarios, running through the “what ifs” and “if onlys”. I know! I know! If you’ve been following my blog or been in one of my Bible studies, I’ve taught on this and shared truth from God’s Word on how to handle these situations. But the reality is, I still fall prey to worry in my life. I have to remind myself of what God has taught me in the past. I have to continually renew my mind in His Word and seek to live it out by His strength and power every single day!

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind… —Romans 12:2

This worry is rooted in fear. And that fear is really exposing an area of my heart and life where I don’t fully trust and believe God —an area where instead of fully relying upon Him, I’m trying to control the situation. This realization caused me to step back…to pause.  I talked it through with the Lord. I rehearsed in my head the many ways I’ve seen Him work in past situations. And I recalled very recent situations, where I was plotting, planning and fretful in my spirit and then watched as He worked it all out in His timing, for His glory and my good.

I realized that when faced with an uncertain or undesirable situation that prompts me to fear or worry, I either tend to react or respond. There’s a difference.  And that subtle difference makes the difference in whether I am one who continually tries to handle and control it all or one who struggles, but grows and matures.

Reflecting on my own fears, my triggers to worry, my independent nature that needs to “fix” and control, I was reminded that I do have a choice. I recently discovered the writings of Viktor Frankl in some of my research. Frankl is a neurologist, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. As I’ve been looking at the fear triggers in my life, his words have resonated with me:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

“Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.”

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This last one really got me to thinking about that “space”, that “gap” of time, between the fear trigger and my response to the situation. What happens in that “gap” can make all the difference in my life. In that “gap” I have the opportunity to turn to Jesus. I have the opportunity to stop the worry/fear cycle. I have the opportunity to rehearse who God is and what He has done.  I have the opportunity to renew my mind in Truth.  So this fall on the blog, we’ll spend some time talking about fear. What does God’s Word have to say about fear?  What can I learn from the examples of those found in Scripture who battled fear? We’ll get into God’s Word and look at people who were dealing with fear and take note of how they responded or reacted in the situation.

As I’ve been pondering all this, I keep coming back to a verse in Hebrews…

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Him…namely Jesus. —Hebrews 2:8

At present key words — at present we don’t see everything in subjection to Jesus. There is brokenness, pain and things in life that cause us to fear and worry.  BUT, we do see Jesus! And therefore we can choose to respond or to react.  We can choose to live in bondage to our fears or find our freedom in Jesus!

…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:1-2

Where are you struggling with fear, worry, anxiety or stress? I’d love for you to join me for this series as we get into the Word and seek to learn from the lives of others.

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©2014 Susan Cady, susancady.com

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