Sometimes fear can paralyze us. You aren’t sure what to do or where to go. You are worried you aren’t pleasing God. And basically, you just feel sick.
Sick to your stomach. Anxious. The kind of anxiety that keeps your mind racing and your chest feeling like an elephant is resting on it.
Your situation may impact you financially or relationally. It could impact your family or your personal character. We are all different, created that way by God. Which means different things put the fear of God into each of us.
How we handle this kind of debilitating fear can make a significant difference to the outcome and to our future, even if the outcome is already pre-determined by Him.
I wish I could say “it’s not that bad”, but sometimes it is. Many times it isn’t our fault, but often times it is. Regardless, we still have to live in the world and we will more than likely make it through to another day.
What will the next day hold?
While we don’t have a crystal ball and anything can happen, the one thing we can do is to not make things worse. What makes things worse?
Ways to Make Things Worse
We can make things worse with a variety of reactions:
- Trying to overly control the situation. I have learned over and over, the hard way, that I am not in control. God is in control and by trying to take control I usually make things worse and, give God the impression that I don’t trust Him, all in one single control tantrum. And, as I run around trying to bend everyone’s will to my own, God sits closely by, shaking His head at me, waiting for me to quit struggling and turn back to Him. Thankfully He is a God of grace and mercy and will take back our burdens once we are ready to relinquish control. Unfortunately, sometimes I hang on too long to my power struggle and have a new set of consequences to live and deal with.
- Avoid the situation in a trance of denial. The opposite of my control freak self is my denial side. The me facing high stress and leg shaking fear wants to sleep away the situation or mindlessly stay in a TV coma until my life changes to another station. This never seems to work, because we all know that nothing changes if we don’t keep going. Plus, although I don’t think we should let the pendulum swing to control overdrive, I do believe we need to do our part and act.
- Blame everyone else and bulldoze your way through. I try not to go down this path. Blaming is bad. It hurts others and it hurts our integrity. Plus, absolutely no solutions grow out of placing blame. Only an even more negative impact to our situation and relationships.
I am sure there are many other ways to make things worse, but we all really just want to make things better.
How Can We Make the Best of A Bad Situation
I have a backgammon analogy I think of in bad situations. I learned in backgammon that sometimes there are not any good moves. In that situation you are forced to make the least bad move. Many times the person who consistently makes the least bad move wins.
Here are some steps to move through our fear and create the best outcome possible.
- Start with prayer. The opposite of taking manic control is to turn to God because He is the one truly in control. Lift up the situation, and your fear and anxiety, to Him. Pray for Him to help carry the burden, to guide you through the Holy Spirit, and to provide His wisdom and discernment. Some things in life are impossible to withstand without God.
- Seek information. Our imagination can sometimes weave a creative tale out of reality. Our imagination with fear is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It can turn quickly to an inferno. Our imagination, with fear, and incomplete information creates the worst case scenario in our heads and we can become paralyzed. Information will help us to make decisions, keep everything in perspective, and helps maintain a stronger sense of reality.
- Wisely seek counsel. Finding counsel is not as easy as you may think. Wise counsel may be different depending on the situation. If you are having a business crisis, seeking help from friends not in business may not be helpful. A tax issue cannot be solved usually by a Pastor. A moral dilemma may not be best advised from your banker. Depending on the issue, there may be a need for technical advisors, spiritual advisors, or maybe you just need a friend to listen and pray with. And sometimes, it helps to find someone who has been before you. Someone who has felt your fear and overcome it.
- Bring it back to God. Once you have information and counsel I would still bring it back to God. Ultimately His will is the best path for us, whether we feel it or see it that way. We sometimes want to do what is easy and God may advise otherwise. Many times His ways are actually easier but we don’t realize it until hindsight. Pray over the situation and information. Is there decisions to be made? Do you just need help conquering your fear and moving forward in life? Do you just need God’s comfort and peace?
- Take the first step. Pull the covers off of your head. Get out of bed and face the day. But face it with hope knowing that you are not alone and that regardless of how bad it is, God will help you if you let Him.
I have never been the type of person that faces crisis with “just pray about it”. I believe God wants us to step out in faith and also follow Him. But I definitely start with prayer, pray through it, and keep praying.
I have been blessed in so many ways in my life. Many are just plain positive gifts from God. But there are also several really difficult situations that God has walked through with me and I survived stronger than before, closer to Him, and with new wisdom to combat the path ahead of me.
God doesn’t promise us easy. And in actuality, He warns us of the hardship of our fallen world. We will get pulled into it and be a part of the here and now. And in these moments it is even more important to remember that we are aliens here. That we are members of God’s kingdom and that we need to cling tightly to Him.
He is the way through this world and into eternity with Him.
Sue Miley is a licensed professional counselor (L.P.C.) and founder of Crossroads Professional Counseling. It is her desire to help people navigate through the many crossroads we find ourselves at throughout life. She bases her practice on Christian principles and hopes to seek God in all she does.