Fear. I could say many things about fear. We all have it; we all experience it. I hate fear. It cripples me in daily life, from the smallest things to the greatest. It’s an unpleasant feeling, triggered by imaginations I have or replaying past experiences. I don’t know when fear first started in my life. I remember being five years old, checking behind the shower curtain thinking someone was hiding there. Why did I assume that? I couldn’t be in rooms alone; I wouldn’t dare wander on my own away from my family in open crowded places, which is a smart thing to do for a young kid, but why was it based on fear rather than wisdom?
I spent some of my childhood in foster institutions. I was taken away from my home, separated from most of my siblings, and had to face a lot of scary situations. Rather than making me courageous, it caused me to shrink back in terror when I returned to my home. For many years after, I spent every night fearing for my life.
Someone is going to break in. Someone is going to jump through the window and cause me harm. Someone is going to storm through the house and hurt me.
I’d imagine horrible things. Every little noise would startle me. I’d cry, longing for peace, knowing certainly there were people out there who were able to sleep without such anxiety and dread, that they were able to go throughout the day living free without worry of being gruesomely harmed.
It wasn’t until I personally decided to follow Jesus that such fear began to lose it’s power over my life. I believe and know Jesus is all-powerful, and everything must bow before Him because He is King. Whenever I’d spend time with Him, I had no worries. He was holding me, tenderly watching over me like a shepherd. For a time, I stopped checking behind the curtain. I could let my feet dangle off the bed, trusting no one was under there trying to grab me.
As time went on, I got stronger in my faith in God. I still struggled with thoughts of fear, but when they would arise, I’d catch it and bring it straight to Jesus. I wouldn’t allow it to reign in my thoughts. The apostle Paul tells us to think on “whatever is pure.” I started meditating on scripture, comforting myself with hymns, and letting my mind become a ground for Christ to reign over. Even in troubling times, I was able to rest in peace.
And then Hurricane Maria hit my island. Nothing could have ever prepared me for such a life-threatening experience. I really thought that was the end of it for me and my family. We were going to die in this natural disaster. It was terrible. Thank God we survived, but my faith almost didn’t that day.
I don’t know why fear won this time, but it did. And it won greatly. Every anxiety, every lie, every nightmare that I had ever had rose up like never before, and once again, I was paralyzed with terror. In the months following, I experienced symptoms of PTSD. My insomnia was raging, and all around me was darkness. I couldn’t find God or really anything.
One of the hardest things to do as we journey in life with God is to walk by faith and not sight, trusting even when we mentally, emotionally, and physically cannot do it. And yet something inside of us, even if it’s just a little mustard seed, pushes us to hold on. Even in the fear, I held on believing that one day, if not now, I would be free.
It wasn’t until I was temporarily living in New York City that I felt God leading me to not move back home, but move to Maryland where I had been staying since the hurricane. You can imagine the terror that ran through my mind. This was the first time I’d be living on my own away from my parents and siblings. It was completely out of my comfort zone. God was telling me to go, to walk on water, if you will. He was stretching me, making me rely only on Him and trust that He would actually protect me. So, I prayed and asked God to please take my fear away. I no longer wanted to be living afraid of the world. No more. The beautiful thing is I always thought I had to be made free from fear, but the truth is I already was. The moment Jesus had entered my life, He freed me. I might’ve stayed in the prison house thinking I had to live there, when the reality is that Jesus burst through the door and broke the shackles of such bondage. I am His. I am a daughter of the King. I am apart of a royal priesthood, protected by the armies of Heaven. I do not belong living in the prison of fear; Jesus set me free. I just had to believe. I chose to take a leap of faith over my fear, to leave that bondage spiritually, and to physically move to Maryland. I have had no fear since coming to live on my own here. I have complete peace and sleep in tranquility.
You do not have to live in fear, my friend. Whatever it is that causes you to be afraid, take it right now to the Lord. It doesn’t belong in your life; Jesus set you free. You can live without worry today. Rise up in faith and believe!
Author | Abby Elijah