Have you ever been locked up? Spent time in the slammer?
No, not literally.
Have you ever been…or are you currently…locked in a prison of fear?
Most people have served some time there. And, sadly, many still feel locked up, desperate for freedom, but unable to make a jailbreak.
So many different fears can keep us there: fear for our children’s safety, fear about our health, fear about our financial future, fear of terrorism, fear of not measuring up, fear of being rejected, fear of being known. The list is endless. And the misery is real.
Is a person destined to spend the rest of their years emotionally incarcerated, with no chance of parole? Is bondage to fear inevitable? Are you just a “fearful person?”
My answer to you is a resounding NO!
A few years ago, I remember making the arrogant and absurd claim that “I don’t struggle with fear.” Ha! Talk about denial! A series of tumultuous events hit, and I realized how much I really did battle the enemy of fear. I remember feeling frozen. Terrified to move forward. Terrified to stay put.
Thankfully, I’ve been released from the prison of fear. These 5 keys helped to unlock my prison cell…and I hope they will help you find freedom, too:
Key #1: Understand the true meaning of courage. As Nelson Mandela said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Fear will never go away completely. You just need to decide not to let it rule your life and choose to step forward with courage. Even if you don’t “feel” courageous.
Key #2: Take an objective look. This is a bit cheesy, but f.e.a.r. has been described as “false evidence appearing real.” Think about the number of times the things you feared really happened. I’ll bet it’s pretty small. We can start obsessing on our fears and they become larger than life.
Look at your history. Reflect on the decisions you faced that generated the greatest fear. If you pushed through the fear, what was the result? In my life, 100% of the time, the outcome was greater and more joy-filled than I ever imagined. Every one of those past decisions has helped to build my courage for new and more challenging choices.
Key #3: Take off your prison clothes. Don’t assume you must keep wearing the uniform labeled “Fearful Person.” You may have accepted that identity for a long time and resigned yourself to your life sentence. If so, you are believing a lie. Change your clothes. You might need some help to do that. That’s OK. Most of us do.
Key #4: Don’t settle for a safe “beige” life when there are beautiful colors to experience. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is where you’ll find the vibrant hues of God’s best for you.
Do you really want to get to the end of your life and say “whew, I played it safe?” If you do, you’ll have missed some amazing people, relationships and experiences.
Key #5: Realize you have a willing accomplice. “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13 Being released from the bondage of fear isn’t up to you alone. Yes, you have to want to break free. But your Heavenly Father wants you to live in freedom even more than you do. And He’s so willing to help. Just ask Him.
And the most amazing thing about breaking free from the prison of fear? I found out that there wasn’t even really a lock on the prison cell. My freedom awaited me when I just pushed forward in faith. Come on out. Enjoy the fresh air and the exhilaration of walking in freedom. You’ll be glad you did.
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