Fighting Fear

Betty blue bordered (2)


This Lent we will pursue the topic of fear.


Why should we fight fear? Isn’t fear a good thing? Well, yes, sometimes. When there truly is a danger to us or others, fear is good if it inspires us to an action that prevents harm.


Not all fear is healthy. It can become debilitating and keep us from growing to our full potential.


Reasons to fight fear:

  1.  Physical – Prolonged or frequent fear causes damage to our bodies. Excessive worry can negatively affect our sleep, appetite, concentration, or cause headaches, nausea, and muscle tension. Anxiety can trigger a stress response sending us into fight/flight/freeze mode and flooding our bodies with adrenaline. Stress hormones such as cortisol are released to raise blood sugar levels and provide fuel for dealing with perceived danger. If such anxiety happens chronically, If we don’t expend the energy with physical activity as we would if we were fleeing or fighting, the fuel builds up and can lead to a suppression of our immune system, digestive issues, artery disease, and even heart attacks.
  2. SocialIf we are afraid to take risks, we don’t reach out to others. We miss opportunities to build friendships or find our “one and only.” We may stay in relationships that are unhealthy, preferring what we know to the unknown, thinking we’d rather be with anyone than alone. Our careers may suffer if we don’t have the confidence to ask for help and seek out mentors.
  3. EmotionalFear keeps us from growth. Fear will always be present as we stretch and try new things, but if it keeps us from acting we will stagnate, rather than find joy in accomplishment and a sense of capability and self-confidence.
  4. Intellectual – Learning something new requires admitting incompetence or ignorance and it can be frightening to not be good at something. But striving to better oneself intellectually is very brave. We will make mistakes but we will learn from them and grow.
  5. PsychologicalFear grows if we don’t face it. What starts as a discomfort can become a full phobia if we don’t bravely take on our fears. Or a fear of one thing can generalize to fearing something else. I once realized I grew anxious each time I drove to a particularly challenging class. That generalized over time to being stressed when I drove to any class, and before long, every time I drove. Recognizing the unfoundedness of my fear helped me process it and move on.
  6. Spiritual –God wants us to connect with him and with his other children. Fear blocks connection. His Saints realized this and overcame their fear. St. Francis de Sales wrote,


“The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”


God’s Word, in both the Old and New Testaments, tells us over and over not to be afraid.  Why is that? Because fear can immobilize us. Because fear blocks love. Because fear shows a lack of trust in God who loves us and wants what is best for us. Here are just a few of God’s exhortations:


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10


Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6


The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 118:6


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27


Years ago our pastor asked in his homily, “What do you know, deep down, you should be doing, but you aren’t because you are afraid?” (These emails grew from that challenge.) Ask yourself now, “What do I know, deep down, I should be doing, but I am not because I’m afraid?” If something comes to mind immediately, hold on to that thought, but then ask yourself what else and see what comes to mind. If nothing specific surfaces, what do you suspect you should or wish you could set fear aside and do? You know courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is acting in the face of fear.


What do you fear?


  • Something as concrete as a particular person, or an illness, or financial strife?
  • Something more abstract like not living up to expectations or not being respected?
  •  Something in the future, like the loss of a spouse or old age?
  • Or maybe something from your past coming to light?


Is your fear reasonable and inspires you to prepare? Wanting a good grade in a difficult class might cause us to study harder. Needing enough money for retirement can encourage us to spend less now and save more. Or is the fear irrational and unlikely, but still very real to you?


For this week:


  • Identify your fears and which you should fight.
  • Understand that fear is human. We all experience it. However, giving in to fear keeps us from becoming the best we can be, from building the kingdom of God here on earth, from loving as deeply as we are able.
  • Contemplate that God does not want us to be afraid. He promises to be with us throughout our challenges and to give us strength.
  • Ponder that God loves us, wholly, completely, unconditionally, and always. He wants what is best for us.


With an ally like God, what or whom should we fear?




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