Breaking the Fear Cycle: How facing my fears taught me to live in peace
Guest post by Maria Furlough, author of Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for Your Anxious Heart
“Fear is a liar. Fear left out the best parts of the story—the parts where God stepped in.” —Maria Furlough
What do you think fear can make you do?
If you are anything like me, you think the answer is “nothing.” You think that though you have fears, surely they are a small non-life impacting part of your life.
I was wrong. You might be too.
At 18 weeks pregnant I woke up at 5:30 am and headed to the hospital to end my pregnancy. I was told my baby would survive all 40 weeks pregnancy, but once born he would die.
Why carry him?
Why go the whole way, torment my heart, my children and my husband? Just end it now. Fear said, make it all go away, it’s too hard.
Fear made me picture people in public cooing over my pregnant belly.
Fear made me picture my baby suffering and dying in my arms.
Fear made me picture my children impacted forever from losing their baby brother.
Sweet friends, fear is a liar. Fear left out the best parts of the story, the parts where God stepped in. To top it all off, it is subtle and it is sneaky and infiltrates the deepest parts of us with half-truths.
Fear leaves God out entirely. Fear does not show you the miracles, the hope, the comfort, and the joy that can come even in the middle of life’s scariest times.
Worst part is? We accept fear. When our friends gush to us about all the things they are not doing because they are afraid, we nod our heads in agreeance. When we take part in decision making and fears are brought up, we immediately take them into serious consideration. When we are faced at an impasse in life, if one way stirs up fears we enthusiastically run in the opposite direction.
Satan is having a field day in us. We don’t even recognize fear as bad, we deem it helpful and self-preserving. We think it protects us and helps us and keeps our loved ones from harm. Fear gives us the illusion of control.
I shudder as I write, because I saw first hand what fear has the power to erase. Like our ever-beloved friend George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, God gifted me with the answer to “what if.” What if I had my baby boy at 18 weeks and ended my pregnancy? What if fear had won? Whole ministries would have been erased, lives never changed, and entire books unwritten.
Carrying Gideon full term changed our world. It helped me to see fear for what it really is and God taught me how to war against it in my life. Having baby Gideon in my arms, gave me kisses and moments I will treasure forever. Tangible peace proved true and trustworthy.
Carrying Gideon full term gave me the strength and peace to have enough hope to have another baby. To have hope in a future unknown (even when healthy babies and pregnancies are never guaranteed).
I wonder where this hits you?
Can you think of times, instances, or opportunities that you ran away from because of fear? Do you know that God has another way for us?
This verse has become the mantra of life in our family: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
A few things in these words stand out to me and hit me in my fear like a ton of bricks.
1. Jesus spoke this on the night before he died, to a group of men who thought they would lose their lives, and many of them did go on to be martyred.
Peace? Seriously Jesus? Like, can’t you see what is going on? Death and pain and fear surrounds and yet Jesus’s call is still clearly to peace. This is important for us to remember, freedom from fear and living in peace is never based on circumstances. Scary or not, as children of the King we are called to peace in all places.
2. Jesus calls it straight out; His gift looks like nothing the world has to offer us.
We like the facts. We loooooove Google. And we adore all those “quick fixes to life” videos we get in our Social Media feed. Information makes us feel good, it strokes our fears to give us the temporary high that “we’ve got this.” We are in control!
News flash, we are not. And no matter how much sugar we deny our children or how many multi vitamins we take while we are pregnant, crappy things can still happen. We are tricked by our fears to rely fully on what we think we know, on what science tells us, and on what studies show.
We have something greater to rely upon, but it takes a walk on the narrow less traversed path. The narrow path of acceptance of Jesus. And do you know the greater gift we receive when we choose to follow Him? We get the Holy Spirit. Right before John 14:27 in verse 26 Jesus says this: “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
We don’t need control, or facts, or quick fixes we just need the gift that looks nothing like anything the world has to offer: the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Do not let fear win. Don’t let it in.
Friends, we cannot stop the fears from attacking us. We cannot stop the arrows from flying but we can choose whether or not we are going to let them impact our lives, our decisions, our families. We can choose not to let fear be a reigning force. We can choose to not let our thoughts or our hearts to linger long on the fearful thoughts that come, but instead fight them!
I am living proof of a life changed and lived without fear. God has good work for us to do. He has fruit that He wants us to bear that fear has been preventing.
Will you join me? Will you join me into the life lived free from fear and filled with a God given, Holy Spirit powered, tangible peace that enables us to do big things?
Maria Furlough is a wife, a mother of five, and the head of women’s ministry at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, North Carolina. She has been writing and teaching Bible studies for 14 years and currently writes on the blog True Worth at www.mytrueworth.org.
A note from Adriel:
I have come to know Maria during her process of becoming an author, and it’s been my privilege to have a behind-the-scenes look into her life as she simultaneously wrote this book and continued to walk out its message through difficult personal circumstances. Seeing her choose peace over fear over and again in her life has been an inspiration to me. She is the real deal and this book has been forged in the fire. It’s honest, humble, hopeful, and practical. I hope it serves you like it has served me. —Adriel