Today, I started reading Max Lucado’s book, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear. My goal is to blog about my thoughts (based on the discussion guide in the back of the book) so I can keep track of what I’m learning and hopefully see some tangible improvements in this area of my life. Since so many of our insecurities are based on fear, I thought this was an appropriate book for me. A good friend of mine recently shared an acronym for FEAR she had heard: F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. I thought that was so poignant and true and it encouraged me to begin viewing the things in my life that are rightfully “lies” as lies and “truth” as truth. Easy, right?
Well, this is my pilgrimage to begin the journey of more rightly seeing myself as God sees me and not letting the lies of fear blind me anymore. You’re welcome to come along for the ride!
1. “Imagine your life wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, and doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, absent the dread of failure, rejection and calamity. Can you image a life with no fear?”
- Try to answer the question above. How would your life be different today if all fear were erased from your heart?
- This is a hard one to answer. I see fear intertwined into so much of my life. I base my opinion of myself a lot upon what I believe others think of me. I base my ability to succeed much upon my comparison of myself to others success or failure. So to imagine that scale being taken away and those comparisons not being needed is a very freeing thought. My image of myself needs to be based on Christ in me and His character being built in me and His beauty being birthed in me. If I weren’t afraid of what others thought of me or if I’d succeed or if I’d be good enough, I probably would actually get out there and start doing some of the things I love to do, and would spend less time moping around feeling less than or not well-enough equipped. It’s by actually doing that often times we realize our full potential, as well as what we really are good at and passionate about.
- Which are you more prone to- dread of failure, rejection or calamity? What does that indicate about you?
- I’m definitely most prone to dread of rejection. I’m too concerned with what others think of me and that is honestly been holding me back from doing some of the things I’m really good at for fear that someone else won’t take me seriously or that I won’t succeed b/c someone else is better at it that I am.
2. “Getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds.”
- Why does getting on board with Christ mean getting soaked with Christ? Why doesn’t it mean blue skies and clear sailing?
- On page 8 of this book, Lucado says, “Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ.” Just because we put our trust in Christ does not mean our lives will be free of suffering. In fact, it sometimes seems to be the opposite. If Christ suffered, why would we be excused from that same fate? I often cling to the fact that Jesus never promised us an easy road, but he did promise that he would be with us every step of the way. Because of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have access to the same strength and character Jesus did as he walked the earth and faced lives wearying challenges.
- Why do so many believers not expect rough seas and stout winds? What often happens to them when they have to weather such conditions? How would you counsel them?
- Because an easy life is not promised to us, but the promise of God’s presence with us is- that’s what we need to cling to. When we cling to Jesus and try to model trials in the way he did, I think we’ll find a more peaceful, joy-filled life because we’re not depending on ourselves to get through. We have Jesus.
3. “Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. We begin to wonder if love lives in heaven.”
- How does fear corrode our confidence in God’s goodness? How had it done so in your own life?
- When did you last wonder if love lives in heaven? Describe the circumstances.
- The reference to this quote is that instead of the Disciples questioning Jesus’ strength, knowledge, or know-how as he sleeps through the storm on the boat- they question his character, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Because the disciples were afraid for their own lives, they went straight to letting fear unleash “a swarm…of anger-stirring doubts” (pg 9). I think we can all relate to the disciples. I know for me, when I don’t feel cared for, I get angry. I do that with my husband all the time. Because deep down it’s an issue of security- do you really love me and are you really going to be there when things get really bad? To the disciples, Jesus was sleeping, so he didn’t appear to be there for them.
4. “The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return. The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness.”
- Why does fear make it harder to love? Why does fear make it hard to give generously? How does fear stifle our dreams?
- For me, fear makes it harder to love “selflessly” because deep down I’m afraid of rejection or being left. I guess part of it is the result of coming from a broken home, and therefore pouring myself into relationships with guys and putting too much of my self-worth into having that relationship. So when one by one, those relationships ended I became jaded that no one could truly love me for who I really was because who I really am is too hard to deal with. Fear, in my case of rejection, has stifled many dreams, but one I’m glad it didn’t get was meeting my wonderful husband and entering into beautiful (however challenging) covenant. While I still struggle with the fear of rejection from him, leading to unneccessary arguments and such, I’m glad that fear didnt’ keep me jaded to miss out on this wonderful life with Eric.
- Have you ever found yourself worshipping safely? If so, what prompted you to do so? How does fear emasculate greatness? How has fear stopped you from attempting something great?
- Fear is also the cause of great things not coming to fruition. I’ve had a keyboard and a guitar sitting in my room for over a year now, each one barley touched and gathering a nice layer of dust. Why? Not sure, but maybe fear has something to do with it. Or maybe I’m just lazy! Fear emasculates greatness, in my opinion, my letting a beautiful, creature of God believe it’s not capable of his or her full potential. Because we are each created in the image of God, we are all deemed for great things. Whether that’s landing your dream job or being a stay-at-home parent. Our dreams are beautiful and worthy to God and we need to put our trust in Him and believe in ourselves to use the strength, intelligence and bodies He’s given us to do the great things we are intended to do.
5. “The one statement Jesus made more than any other was this: dont’ be afraid.”
- Why would Jesus make this statement more than any other? What does this tell you about human nature?
- Sometimes, I think it’s because the way Jesus did things was so unconventional the way everyone expected or from what they were used to, that he wanted to give them a warning or a heads up: this is going to be different and a little scary, so hang on and don’t be afraid! Something else in me clings to the comforter in Jesus, that even though he was always stirring the pot and shaking things up, he really wanted people to know they could trust him. What he asks us to do and what he was asking the disciples to do takes us, often times, completely out of our comfort zone and right into the center of his will for us (which we know is not always the safest place in the world). Jesus wanted to always test the boundaries, stir the waters, but at the same time he says “don’t be afraid” b/c he knows our human nature is to doubt and be afraid of what’s unfamiliar.
- How can you stop feeling afraid? What takes away the emotion of fear?
- Well, I guess if I had the answer to this question already I wouldn’t be reading this book 😉 One way I’m trying to combat fear in my life is seeing myself more clearly based on God’s Word and what He says about me, not what others say about me. I need to stop basing my opinion of myself on what other people think and start living in the truth of who I really am.