Have you ever considered fear’s influence on your decisions and interactions with others? Many years ago, I let a few words slip out about a friend, stupid and impulsive words. They weren’t gossip, but they were the kind that I didn’t want her to know about. I tried to make things right without actually telling my friend what I’d said. But every time I saw her, guilt gnawed at me. I lived in fear of, “What if she finds out?” This fear impacted my interactions with her.
Do you remember Joseph’s brothers mentioned in last week’s post?
In Genesis 42, we read about Jacob’s family and how they needed food in the middle of one of the worst famines of their time. His ten oldest sons traveled to Egypt to purchase grain. While there, an Egyptian official took a keen interest in them. They admitted they had two other brothers, one who was “no more” and one who wasn’t permitted to leave their father’s side.
This official labeled them as spies, though the ten men assured him they were not. He declared if they wanted more food, they must bring their youngest brother.
In time, the brothers returned to Egypt for more food. They tried to toe the line, bringing money, a generous gift, and Benjamin, their youngest brother.
Though the brothers took all the right steps, fear’s influence ruled them. The wrongs they’d committed by selling their brother Joseph into slavery haunted them.
They were plagued by the fear that maybe the way this man treated them was God’s punishment for that long-ago decision.
Fear’s Influence on Our Hearts and Minds
Fear of being found out does that. We can attempt to move on, to do everything right beyond the point of our bad choice. But that shaming voice whispers in our hearts we did wrong. It’s too horrible to admit out loud. It’s better to hide the shameful act than own it.
Until we come to terms with our wrong actions—until we face and acknowledge them to God and make things right with the person we’ve wronged—we’ll live in fear of being found out.
As the brothers neared Egypt, their thoughts seemed to center on the worst-case possibilities. All they saw was the probability of punishment for past sins.
But God . . .
Where the brothers feared judgment, God planned a beautiful reunion. As Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, he reminded them God had sent him to Egypt to provide for their family.
Fear persuades us to view God through an inaccurate lens, just as Joseph’s brothers did. They considered Him a Punisher rather than One who loved and desired freedom for them.
What is the Basis of Our Fear?
Is our fear based on the possibility of being found out? If we’ve done something that must be rectified, shame tries to keep us quiet.
Is fear’s influence distorting our perspective? When we’re afraid, fear’s lies often skew our thought processes, our perceptions of our situations, and our beliefs about our Father. A poisonous relationship grows between fear and shame when we try to hide our actions. Shame and fear skew our relationship with and our beliefs about God.When we’re afraid, fear’s lies often skew our thought processes, our perceptions of our situations, and our beliefs about our Father #tellhisstory #dealingwithfear Click To Tweet
How Do We Free Ourselves from Fear’s Influence?
- Often, we must choose humility and own our wrong actions. We need God’s perspective on what we’ve done. A humble heart enables us to gain an accurate understanding of the impact of our words and actions.
- We must confess what we’ve done. Our hearts find freedom from shame when we confess our wrongs. Yes, this can be hard. The other person’s opinion of us may be altered. That change may lead to greater respect. Or, it may sever a relationship. When we’ve done what’s right in God’s eyes, He honors this, regardless of the other person’s response.
- We must make things right. Whether it’s apologizing, recompensing an item taken, or doing something else, we need to do all that is in our power to be at peace with all men. Then, we trust God to do the reconciling, healing work in us and in those who’ve been affected.
- Perhaps most importantly, we evaluate our perception of God. If we view God as manipulative rather than as a loving Father, we need to talk with Him about that. Disappointment, unmet expectations, pain, illness, and other circumstances can all lure us into a place of not believing God is good and has good plans for us.
One guaranteed way fear loses its grip in our thoughts and hearts is for us to choose to trust God. God works in multi-faceted ways, often in ways we never foresaw or expected.One guaranteed way fear loses its grip in our thoughts and hearts is for us to choose to trust God #tellhisstory #dealingwithfear Click To Tweet
Facing My Fear
After a few weeks of trying to ignore the conviction God’s Spirit pressed on my heart, I knew I had to talk with my friend. Hanging my head, I confessed what I’d done. I was so afraid of her censure. After a pause, she said, “I forgive you.” And the shame dropped away.
She chose to continue to trust me with her friendship. Not the shallow, keep-your-distance kind, but genuine relationship.
And that night, fear lost its hold on my heart.
What about you? When have you dealt with fear because of something you’d done? How has God helped you overcome fear?
*****Here is a little gift for you, my blog readers. It’s one final shot taken in Hawaii last month. May it bring you aloha when you view it. Click the link to download. Hanauma Bay *****
This week, I’m linking up with Grace and Truth, #Anita Ojeda, and #Instaencouragements. Come join and read more encouraging posts!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter
Sign up for monthly notes filled with encouragement, updates, and glimpses of how God shows up in each day. Receive free encouragement resources!
What a great post about overcoming fear. Your story was poignant and it’s so wonderful that your friend forgave you! For me trusting God is so important in overcoming my fears.
Hey Kathy, God is good. I was so grateful He brought forgiveness in the relationship as well! You’re right. Trusting God is crucial to overcoming fears.
Beautiful testimony of overcoming fear and shame, Jeanne. And I enjoy your awesome photographs!
Lisa, please forgive the delayed response. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and the pictures. Thanks so much for visiting!
A well-written and thoughtful blog post, Jeanne. We’ve all had that experience at one time in our lives. When we humble ourselves, put aside fear, and face the wrong we’ve done or the thing we’ve said head on, confessing our sin and asking for forgiveness, it’s such a relief.
Agreed, Melinda! There’s something about “coming clean” about something we’ve said or done that gives us relief. Isn’t God gracious?!
“. . .we trust God to do the reconciling, healing work in us and in those who’ve been affected.” We have to push that fear aside and step out, be brave in our Faith that God knows how to lead us! What a hard, bold, good, good message! So glad you were brave in faith!
Maryleigh, you’re right. I like what you said about being brave in our faith and trusting God to lead us. I’m so thankful He meets us at our point of obedience and works healing and wholeness into us. Thanks so much for stopping by!
This is such a powerful story, Jeanne. What struck me is how our preconceived and inaccurate ideas about God and how He works can really be a stumbling block when dealing with fear. Yet another reason for us to pray, “Send your light and your truth, let them lead us.” 🙂 I’m so glad your friend was gracious and that you were able to move on together with a stronger friendship.
Lois, you’re right. We do sometimes allow our inaccurate ideas about God and His workings warp our understanding of things, including dealing with fear. That’s a great prayer to pray. I’m glad my friend was gracious too!
Amen to this. We often put off dealing with our facing our sin, but liberation comes when we finally do. Fear no longer has power.
Jessica, you’re right. Freedom comes when we deal with our sin. And I’m so thankful God is merciful and gracious toward us when we do so. AND that He causes fear to lose its power.
Praying now for my fear to leave in Jesus name.
Lauren, isn’t it reassuring that God hears our prayers and answers them? Even when we have to pray it a lot because we forget? I appreciate you stopping by.
So thankful we are covered in His grace! “One guaranteed way fear loses its grip in our thoughts and hearts is for us to choose to trust God.” Amen!
Lynn, I’m sooo glad God covers us in His grace too! I’m thankful He sees us where we are and draws us closer to Himself.
Jeanne, thank you for visiting Being Woven and for inviting me to join you here. I did not know about this one and will link up. I am away from my computer but will link up later tonight or tomorrow. I will link up each week as best I can. I love the photo of the bay in Hawaii. I have a sister on Kauai. Beautiful state.
Linda, I enjoyed your post today. 🙂 And I’m so glad you enjoyed the photo of Hanauma Bay. We were in Hawaii over Christmas break to visit my husband’s family. I love the beauty of the Islands and the people too. Do you get to visit your sister in Kauai very often?
“Fear persuades us to view God through an inaccurate lens.” So true, Jeanne. Also how it distorts our perspective about situations. Thank you for sharing your story and your honest insight. And as always, thank you for your photos! They always breathe hope into my heart. 🙂 Love and blessings to you, my friend!
Trudy, I guess I’m glad I can share lessons, even when they come from my own failures. 🙂 I’m glad you found words that encourage you. thanks for being such an encourager!
Your messages always inspire and encourage me. Thank you so much.
Melissa, your presence here each week is a great encouragement to me. Thank you for being a part of this community!
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad it all worked out with your friend. I think a lot of the time our fears become bigger as we think about them but when we actually take action (if we can) it usually works out better than we thought it might. It definitely helps to turn our focus to God and remember that he is bigger than all we fear.
Thank you, Lesley. Our fears do tend to become bigger when we think on them rather than deal with them. And yes, turning our focus to God and remembering He is bigger is always a good step!
Jeanne, I really enjoyed this post! Probably because several months ago I went through an identical situation! So true how fear controls us and distorts our perspective, especially of God! Excellent advice on how to free ourselves from fear, thank you so much for sharing your story and your wisdom!
Donna, I’m sorry you walked through that same situation. We are so human, aren’t we? I’m glad you found some good in this post!
I was just thinking about your series of posts about shame yesterday. They were so full of insight. Now you are doing the same thing with fear. I love how you not only tell how fear harms us and estranges us from God, but you also give us some wonderful suggestions of what we can do to make things right.
Laurie, thank you for your encouraging words. It’s always my hope that God will use the words shared on this blog to encourage people to draw closer to Him. We have an amazing Father who is quick to forgive and redirect us, don’t we?
I think maybe Paul said it best,
that the way to free my mind
from shame is just to let it rest;
forgetting that which lies behind
and moving toward what stand before,
I come worthy of the prize
that waits for me at Heaven’s door,
the look of love in Jesus’ eyes
when another tarnished soul,
an evildoer, lout and sinner
is by grace and faith made whole
and becomes at last a winner,
without clutching guilt or pride,
to stand, a brother, by Christ’s side.
Andrew, I can’t describe what I felt as I read your beautiful words. Your quiet confidence shines through and offers peace to those of us who will one day stand before our Savior and see Him face to face. I’m praying for you, and for Barb, my friend.
Jeanne, your words here are encouraging, inspiring, and so true! And I love your transparency and your wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing and thank you for hosting as well! I pray that you have a wonderful rest of your week!
Tai, I’m so glad you found encouragement in these words. I appreciate your visit and your kind words! I’ll say a prayer for you too. 🙂
You are most welcome, Jeanne! And thank you as well! 🙂
Jeanne, sometimes it is difficult for me to discern between the Spirit’s conviction and the enemy’s condemnation. Either way I need to go to Jesus, humble myself and follow His lead. Thank you for this lovely message.
Deb, I’m like you, in that, sometimes I have trouble discerning between conviction and condemnation. I guess I’m learning to look at if that voice is drawing me toward repentance and the Lord or toward feeling guilty and focusing on myself. It’s still hard, sometimes. You’re right. We do need to go to Jesus, humble ourselves, and follow His lead. That’s such great wisdom. 🙂
This was a great post. I love your transparency. Fear is hard – and overcoming it is freedom. Speaking it out loud and sharing the stories – that’s powerful. Thank you for walking us through that today and for pointing us to Jesus.
Leslie, I think you’re right. Fear loses power when speaking of them aloud. I’m thankful the Lord works in our hearts and minds when we acknowledge our fear, our sin, our struggles in words. Thank you so much for stopping by!
Powerful, Jeanne. Fear lies to us, leaving us steeped in guilt and shame. It is definitely an inaccurate lens about God. When we own our sins and ask for forgiveness from God and others, fear loses its grip on us…and shame and guilt. I remember doing Christine Caines study about shame. She noted that while most people will claim, “Shame on you!” God says, “Shame off you!” Because Jesus took on our guilt and shame, nailing it to the cross.
Yes, Karen. Fear does lie to us. I’m so thankful the Lord is quick to forgive when we confess our sins. And He’s gracious to cause fear and guilt to lose their grips on our thoughts and hearts. I’ve heard “shame off you,” before. I really like all the meaning that goes into this!
Thank you – I had been reflecting on the fact that, with faith, fear is not replaced by courage or bravery but by trust in God. Encouragement to face our fears!
Sharon, you’re right! When we choose faith in God, it’s the decision to trust Him that combats fear, isn’t it? I so appreciate your visit!
I suffer from misplaced gilt. You know, someone says, “I need to talk to you,” and you get that prickly oh-no-the-principal-called-me-to-his-office-what-have-I-done feeling. I always assume that I’m guilty of something ahead of time. And that’s not healthy!
Anita, I’ve dealt with misplaced guilt too. Possibly for different reasons, but it seems like each of our reasons comes down to the idea we’ve maybe held to that we’re lacking in some way. I’m glad the Lord speaks truth to our hearts. As I’ve aged, I’m learning how to not go to that thought, “I must’ve done something wrong!”. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
Thank you for continuing this series on fear. It is so timely. Fear does eat at us and tries to destroy us if we let it. I have found myself in that place of fear before and it has gotten the best of me. God, however, knows my heart and wants to reassure me that with Him I can face any fear that comes my way. This right here really speaks to me —> “A poisonous relationship grows between fear and shame when we try to hide our actions. Shame and fear skew our relationship with and our beliefs about God.”
May I turn to God first when fear comes knocking.
Mary, I, too, have allowed fear to get the best of me. I’m thankful our Father knows our hearts and ministers to us with His truth, reassurance, and love, especially when we’re facing fears.
“One guaranteed way fear loses its grip in our thoughts and hearts is for us to choose to trust God”. May I choose to turn to God instead of pulling away. Great post Jeanne.
Wemi, may you and I both choose to trust God consistently! Thanks for visiting!
What a sweetly vulnerable post, and I am so delighted that the story had a happy ending.
Thanks, Michele. Me too!
I used to do the same thing in my early Christian life–put off dealing with a sin, particularly if it meant having to confess wrong to someone else. Such miserable times! I’m thankful for God’s throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help in time of need.
Barbara, it’s kind of silly to think we can hide from our sins, isn’t it? I’m with you . . . thankful that God’s throne of grace is always available to us, and that He does indeed give us mercy and grace in our times of need (I love that verse, by the way!).