Fear is 100% the thing I struggle with the most in my life. I am afraid of more things than I can count. Fear paralyzes and destabilized me. It keeps me from moving forward and holds me back from making an impact.
The tragedy (and the good news) is that I do not have to live in fear, and neither do you. Fear is a choice, and it is time we make a new decision.
I took my first step in banishing fear in a very private way on February 20, 2012. That first step led to a snowball of other choices that reinforced the truth that I was not made to live in fear.
How I banished fear:
June 4, 2012:
My friend, Liz Blair and a group of friends and family, led me through the process of developing a personal PATH. I was terrified. I was afraid of failing yet again, but this decision put me on a literal path that helped get me where I am today.
July 10, 2012:
I enrolled in two college classes. My plan was to get a degree in nursing (which is funny because I hate blood and needles). Although, I did not continue down this path, making a decision and doing something was an important step.
Sometimes we have to get our feet wet in the kiddie pool before we dive head first in the deep end of life.
November 3, 2012:
I persevered and pushed through my fear of failing. I turned an essay in late and refused to quit school in spite of falling behind. I finished the semester strong and discovered I could do more than I thought I could.
Thanksgiving weekend 2012:
Lisa Capenigro approached me about going with her on a mission trip to Thailand. While this was an incredible and unexpected gift from God, I still had to make the decision to commit. I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
December 20, 2012:
While on vacation in Mexico, I told John I thought I would like to go para-sailing, and I did it! This may sound silly, but engaging in life without fear was a big deal for me.
January 2, 2013- January 5, 2013:
I allowed myself to start dreaming again. I anxiously scrawled the first two sentences of my book on a piece of paper and tucked it into my Bible after saying a dangerous prayer. God, reveal whether I should follow this dream.
January 6, 2013:
I went to church in spite of waking up afraid and feeling emotionally off kilter. Even though I sat in the last row in the seat closest to the door so that I could run if I wanted, I stayed and I listened. God answered my prayer. He said write your book, but only after you burn some plows.
January 6, 2013 (later that day):
I tried to distract myself from the things God seemed to be saying.
I opened up the church bulletin to find some upcoming event dates to add to my calendar. I read about an upcoming series (a series that never occurred). The blurb about the series included two sentences that were almost word for word the same as the two sentences I wrote and placed in my Bible the day before.
God confirmed His answer.
The bigger deal is not how faithful God is– because God is always faithful– it is that I shared everything with John that evening and that I chose obedience over fear.
January 10, 2013:
I met with Pastor Matt. Shared my commitment with him and used the match they handed out in church to figuratively burn my plows.
January 14, 2013:
I took another enormous step and announced my intentions to quit nursing school and declared myself a writer in an email to my five closest friends. Then I called my mom and told her.
I have always held myself captive to the fear of pleasing other people, especially my mom. It isn’t that my mom demanded that I please her, it is that I wanted to make her happy. I mistakenly thought that she would be happy if I fulfilled her dreams.
The truth is she is most happy when I am authentically pursuing God’s dreams for me.
March 7, 2013:
As I became more involved in learning about what it takes to get published I realized I needed a platform. I made the decision to put myself out there and moved my blog from Typepad to WordPress.
Being more public meant more commitment to living well because I would be more visible.
March 20, 2013:
I took things a step further and announced that I was writing a book. One more step to pushing through the fear of being seen and failing in public.
April 7, 2013:
I let Blake take a picture of me, and I posted it on the blog.
I am incredibly insecure about my body, and although I had been working on healthier living and had lost 70 pounds I still had a long way to go. Posting a picture and feeling OK in my own skin, imperfections and all, was another step to living outside of fear.
May 23, 2013:
I got on a plane and flew to Thailand! This took more courage than you can imagine. In fact, the entire morning before we left, I balled because I was terrified God was going to punish me for a bad thought I had the night before.
Silly, I know, but I bet I’m not the only one that misjudges God and His goodness.
May 23- June 3, 2013:
It would take an entire book to summarize the steps I took to banish fear in Thailand, but one of the most significant steps happened at the beginning of the trip.
Before leaving for Thailand I read 2 Timothy in my quiet time. I bristled as usual as I read 2 Timothy 1:7.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
~ 2 Timothy 1:7 KNJV
I can’t begin to tell you how many people have told me I needed to heed that verse. Usually I heard, Amy, you have not been given a spirit of fear and then beat myself up because I couldn’t figure out how to stop being afraid.
I got so stuck on the front end of the verse that I never heard the back end.
Something, shifted in me as I read it this summer. I began to realize that the way to live without fear happened the same way every other part of my Christian life does.
When God tells us to take off the old, He doesn’t leave us standing naked and vulnerable. Instead, He tells us to replace it with something else. We will never be successful at living without fear if we don’t replace it with a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Although I realized this, I was still stuck.
I could envision what it looked like for me to love. I even knew that God had given me a sound mind, but I had no idea what a powerful me looked like. I asked God to help me see what I looked like as a powerful person so that I could begin to live in that truth. I asked John and a few others to pray that prayer with me while I was in Thailand.
On our second morning in Thailand, the other Amy in our group had an allergic reaction to something she ate. Connie asked Rachel to stay behind and keep an eye on her. I stayed with Rachel; Amy’s friend, Tiffany, stayed with her.
We sat outside of our guest house and enjoyed the weather to pass the time. Tiffany and I struck up a conversation. We talked about which ministry area we most wanted to serve in that evening. Tiffany shared that although she wanted to go in the bars, she believed God wanted her to stay behind and pray. She said, There is power in prayer; I believe God has called me to serve as a prayer warrior.
A prayer warrior.
That was it. I could be powerful on my knees. I could see that. I didn’t have to do anything extraordinary. I just had to fall on my knees.
I began to thank God for answering my prayer.
Only, I was wrong. Me and power had nothing to do with something I could do in secret, while hiding. It had nothing to do with me staying in my comfort zone. It had everything to do with me stepping boldly into fear and staying there anyways. However, I wouldn’t discover that until later than night.
When Connie placed me on the prayer walking team I was a little surprised. I assumed I would be on the prayer team that stayed behind at the guest house. I decided she got things half right; so I went with it.
The prayer walking team had multiple functions. We walked through the streets of Patpong over and over while the children’s ministry and bar ministry teams worked. We prayed silently over the streets and the people as we walked, but we also stopped and interacted with the vendors and girls who worked in the outdoor bars.
Our goal was to build relationships while we prayed.
As I entered Patpong, the sights and sounds overwhelmed me. Darkness seemed to overtake me. So, I began to pray. I looked at each sign and declared it for God.
Click on images to view full gallery.
As I prayed, boldness filled my soul. Each step I took was more confident than the last.
Before I knew it I was standing powerfully in the authority of God in one of the darkest places on earth. I was standing in fear and shining light all over it.
This was me powerful.
Yes, God made me a prayer warrior, but He didn’t call me to live on my knees.
He called me to walk, to move, to stand boldly in the gap, to go into dark places of bondage and declare freedom to the captives. He called me to be powerful because He is in me, and He is all powerful.
He is calling you to be powerful, too.
Before the night was over God gave me a clear picture of me powerful. I stood underneath the Supergirls sign in Patpong and declared that God made women, and He made us super. He did not make us to live enslaved any more than he made the supergirls who worked in that bar to be enslaved.
He made us to be free.
As I prayed, I saw the Holy Spirit come down in the form of an eagle and lift that sign from the streets of Patpong. As He did the black skies parted and light filled every hidden corner in that dark place.
I am not a person who has visions.
I am not particularly comfortable sharing mine with you, but that is fear speaking.
The truth is my vision is what God wants for Patpong, but the vision He gave me was much more personal that a dream for the women in Thailand. It is a picture of what He has done and is continuing to do in my life.
I lived in a place as dark as Patpong most of my life, but God never intended for me to live that way. He made me a supergirl.
While I sat enslaved in the dark places of my life unwilling and unable to free myself, God came down and lifted me up and took me out of my pit. Through people, His Word, His church, and a variety of events in my life, He infiltrated every hidden corner of my heart with the light of His love.
I can stand in power every day because it isn’t me who has to be powerful.
I could go on and on about the steps I have taken to banish fear since coming home from Thailand.
This series on impact is one of them. I hope it is a step for you. Let’s keep banishing fear in our lives because God doesn’t want us to stand still, He wants us to move forward. Step by step.