Tactics Against Fear

Has the news disrupted your calm lately? Do you worry about the future of our world, our country, our community? Are you afraid for your family?

You’re not alone. I rarely feel uplifted after reading the headlines or watching the evening broadcasts. Within a half hour, we can be presented with terrorism, dire financial predictions, the plight of the homeless, and an increase in cancers, homicides, unfaithfulness, or depression. The news can leave us feeling overwhelmed.

Yet, over and over in the Bible, God instructs us to cast our worries upon Him, to leave tomorrow for tomorrow, and to fear not. The phrase, “Do not be afraid,” appears 70 times in the New International Version of the Bible. Frequently, “Do not be afraid,” is followed by, “or discouraged,” reminding us to act with courage. Some say other versions of this phrase appear 365 times, one for each day of the year. Often the command to not be afraid is followed by a reassurance of God’s protection. God doesn’t want us to go through life frightened about tomorrow.

Does that mean we shouldn’t plan or prepare for the future?


It means God doesn’t want us to be paralyzed by fear, or even worse, to become so overwhelmed that we despair. He asks us to place our trust in Him, for faith casts out fear and allows us to become our best self, ready to do the tasks He sets for us.

When we are afraid, we have tactics we can choose:

  • We can give the situation over to God, trusting Him to be all-loving, then
  • We can face the fear and act to overcome it, or
  • We can turn our backs on the fear.


When is each appropriate?


1. We Turn to God


Let our first reaction to fear be to turn to God.

Yes, we will meet evil, danger, hard times, suffering, and death. We simply cannot avoid all difficulty. Our best arsenal against fear is our trust in God. He is all-good, all-loving, and all-merciful, but our world is imperfect, and we will suffer. When we do, we need to remember what it felt like to be a child comforted on a lap in a rocking chair. Then we crawl into God’s arms to be cradled, knowing this too shall pass, and that we are treasured and loved beyond limits. Our trust in God, and His faithfulness, will get us through.

Some dangers that are very real, but beyond our reach to affect. North Korea is perilously unstable. Legalizing marijuana might result in people driving under its influence. Our children may meet with evil and be unprepared. Cancer or heart disease might lurk within us or our loved ones.

There is a quote from St. Francis de Sales: “The same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts.”

So first we “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Once we have placed ourselves in God’s care, we can return our attention to our difficulty and know that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

 2. Face the Fear


When we are afraid, worried, or overcome with anxiety, we need to ask ourselves how realistic the fear is. Are we in true imminent danger, or are we borrowing trouble that might happen?

If the danger is real, we need to determine the best way to react. Sometimes running away is a great choice. Usually though, facing our fear means we need to calm ourselves enough to think clearly. We need to assess our strengths and weaknesses, apply our strengths to the problem, and take whatever steps we need to overcome our weaknesses. Is the danger something we can lessen, or do we need help from someone else?

For instance, if I’m in danger of not being able to pay my bills, I calm myself so I can assess the situation. I might use my strengths to add part-time work, or to think through where I can cut back. If I know I’m weak in self-discipline or in budgeting, I work to improve my abilities in those areas or seek help from someone who has those strengths. In some of the weeks ahead we will consider ways to overcome weaknesses that disrupt our calm.

3. Turn our Backs on Fear


Many fears don’t deserve facing for longer than it takes to realize they are not worth our time. Some things are so unlikely to happen, or so trivial if they do, that we simply need to realize we are wasting our energy if we let them upset us. Does it really matter what an acquaintance thinks about what we do? Or whether a friend has more or is doing better than us at something? Or if we are occasionally embarrassed? Sometimes we turn our backs by deciding the trouble is not important enough to worry about. We let it go.

Summary – When Fear is Overwhelming

When we are overcome with anxiety, we need to calm ourselves. We pray. We take deep, slow breaths. We can meditate. Perhaps we take a brisk walk or run. We might reach out to a friend for help.

When we are calm enough to be able to think clearly, then we can decide whether we need to face our fears or turn our backs on them. If we need to face them, we can begin to plan (with a sense of strength, not fear) and prepare ourselves for what lies ahead, knowing as St. Augustine did that we can “Pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on [us].”

Blessings on your week!



To Regain Our Calm

spring borderThis Lent we will pursue the topic of Calm, how to achieve it or reclaim it.

We all have our moments when we lose all sense of calm. In today’s political climate even our nation seems to lack its ability to deliberate and make decisions from reasoned clarity. Add to that our society’s tendency to expect quick, if not instantaneous results, and our constant electronic connectedness, and we risk a state of endless anxiety.

Anxiety is rarely constructive. If we are influenced by a state of nervousness – hurry, insecurity, a sense of being unsafe—then we are unlikely to think clearly and make reasonable decisions. And we adults are not alone in this. Our children increasingly suffer from anxiety, too, which can lead to depression and contribute to an unhealthy sense of hopelessness.

We must regain our calm! We must learn to self soothe, to take time to gather our thoughts, to step back from the hurry and pressures of this fast-paced life. In the next few weeks we will explore ways to bring calm back to our personal, relational, spiritual, and occupational aspects of our lives. The good news is that an improvement in any area of our lives will improve the other areas as well.

You personally may only need to work in one category of your life. Perhaps your relationships do not cause you to worry, but your work does, or you are organized personally, but your family life feels chaotic. So pick and choose the suggestions you want to try. Any growth will reap rewards!

Personally, I have always struggled to maintain a sense of calm. Although it hasn’t come naturally, that doesn’t mean it can’t be achieved. If I can move myself away from worry and insecurity towards calm and confidence, you can, too.

Here are some enemies of calm:

  • Hurry
  • Overextension
  • Dwelling on our fears
  • Giving in to our fears
  • Disorganization
  • Indecisiveness
  • Procrastination
  • Negativity
  • Selfishness
  • Fear of the future
  • Inconsideration
  • Unwillingness to say no
  • Failure to plan
  • Weariness
  • Poor prioritization
  • Weak self-discipline
  • Insufficient self-confidence
  • Too little prayer or meditation

And perhaps most importantly

  • Lack of trust in God

Do any of the above sound like areas you struggle with? Good! Then you know where to start. This Lent can be a beginning of growth, and strides can be made by Easter!

Here’s your first step. Become aware of when you lose your sense of calm. Are you feeling pressure or even panic? Is your breathing shallow? Are your palms sweaty? Are your muscles tense? Does a quick escape sound tempting, either out of the room, or out of the relationship, or out of the job?

Take a deep breath. Take a step back. Are you in real danger, or does it just feel like it? Think for a moment. Is your body in charge or your mind? Do you need a break to regain your composure, even if it’s just to count to ten? Are you overtired, overworked, or overwrought? We need good rest to be at our best, whether that means going to bed earlier, taking a day off for fun, or setting aside ten minutes to pray.

And yes, all those wise choices we know we should make really do take a toll if we disregard them. Along with rest, we need regular exercise, healthy diets, hydration, social time, creativity outlets, and attention to our spirituality. How are you doing on those areas? Which one, or ones, need attention?

Here’s your homework for the week. Notice when you’ve lost your calm. Think about the areas of balance where you might need to make some changes. We will begin to tackle strategies next time.






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