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Pastor of Griggs in Greenville, SC. I write about the gospel, the church, and the soul. 

Name Your Fear

Name Your Fear

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Relief from anxiety is a journey. The first step on that journey is getting clear on what you're anxious about.

When we first start seeking relief we only know that we indeed are anxious. Some situations simply give us a general sense of dread. This sense of dread is acutely painful, but it's also ambiguous. So we're sure we want to avoid these situations, but we're not quite sure why. If someone asked us point blank, "What are you afraid of?" we wouldn't have a simple, concise answer.

Your first step to relief is to find that answer, whatever it is. Luckily, there is someone who already knows that answer.

Psalm 139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

See, the answer you're seeking rests somewhere deep inside of you. How do we dig that information out?

First, acknowledge that God already knows exactly what you're afraid of and ask him to reveal that knowledge to you.

Then, start verbalizing. The scriptures tell us that, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." One day, when you're totally alone, say in the car on a drive, start to discuss your fears with God out loud. In fact, what I want you to do is think through a dreadful situation and, out loud, talk with God through a "worst case scenario" of that situation. Ask and answer for your self “What is the absolute worst thing that could happen?” 

As you talk aloud, see if you notice any themes. See if you hear any reoccurring thoughts or ideas.

I used to think I was afraid of long meetings at work. I would get a general, ambiguous sense of dread when I knew one was coming up. It didn't make any sense! If it was a short meeting or a party or a movie I wouldn't be dreading it at all. Then, I went through an exercise like this and I figured out I wasn't afraid of long meetings, I was afraid of having to excuse myself to answer the phone or use the restroom. I was afraid of being a disruption. 

Once you're able to identify a couple of reoccurring thoughts or ideas, you can then boil the fear even further down to a single word. You can give it a name.

I was dreading long meetings but what was I actually afraid of? Embarrassment.

Now, this doesn't necessarily clear your anxiety, it just gets you clear on your anxiety. In other words, I am still anxious about embarrassment, but at least now I can start to work on finding rest from that fear vs. generally avoiding long meetings for reasons I can't explain.

Control, Control, Control

Control, Control, Control

Pessimism

Pessimism