Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Tag: Fear (page 1 of 2)

Taking That Internal Dialogue Captive

It was doing it again.

Blocking out everything.

Interrupting everything.

That infernal internal dialogue just doesn’t stop.

It doesn’t break for pedestrians.

It doesn’t slow down after peak hours.

A running commentary that becomes the white noise in the background of life.

It can be the reason for our lack of focus. It can be the reason for our lack of sleep. It feeds anxiety. It feeds worry. It feeds defeat before we even get going on our day.

The internal dialogue.

It’s a powerful thing, isn’t it?

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When Things Hit Close To Home

I sit in my writing nook and my mind is filled with all the things that seem to be hitting a little too close to home today, not to mention the last couple of weeks, even months.

We gathered around the t.v once more and felt shock and took note and gasped prayers and felt speechless and looked at each other. An unwanted routine lately.

And the temptation is to let it all settle on my heart and my mind, and without thinking, allow tremors of fear and ripples of heartsickness seep into my being. Those things will always find a reason to try to lurk there anyway.

But the longer I sit here, with tragedy and drama and panic so close to home, the more I am certain that to let those things take up residence is to let those things win.

And doesn’t that apply to anything hard or tragic? It doesn’t have to be radicals on Parliament Hill. It can be our cancer battles. It can be the ruins of our reputations at work. It can be the hurt-filled separation. The forever-long custody battle. The chaos of Superstorms. Trauma still awake in our hearts from our past.
Any awful thing.

And in my heart, while I type this out with shaky hands, I make a firm decision. That despite what evil thinks it has, I ultimately get to choose what it will do to me. To us.

So it cannot take root where Hope dwells, where Faith gleams in its tiny mustard seed mold, where Right is threaded into our very fabric, where Light casts its net and sends shadows away.

And the only shadow I’ll accept is the gentle shadow of His presence, where nothing is so big or scary that we can’t find assurance and peace. Where He asks me daily, “Will you trust me still?” and knowing the story He’s written me into already, and having already learned He Is Answer Enough, I always declare “yes”.

A hard yes. Hard because we want Him to sweep in and with arm outstretched clear the surface completely. Zap every enemy. Stomp every obstacle. Clear up the disease. Look like the hero we think we deserve.

The way they thought He would over 2000 years ago.

But Hope, and Faith, and Right, and Light aren’t for magic wands. And His mandate has never wavered. And like 2000 years ago, He’s still all about the heart of the matter.

And when the heart of the matter is where He resides, nothing else can persevere. Nothing.

We turn the t.v off, gather around the table, eating stew and being thankful we’re just here. Despite the hits the world keeps taking, there’s a kind of reverent solace in tidying kitchens and working in garages and writing tomorrows blogs.

A solace and a deciding of what wins. Of who wins.

And it’d be silly to deny it. I will worry, I will flinch, I will weep, I will shudder.

BUT.

I will choose not to own it, or be owned by it.

For I already belong to the Great Overcomer, the Psalm 27:1 God.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ”

That is what’s mine. And that’s a lot to have at the end of the day, as I sit here and type.

I don’t know how many more things will hit close to home this week, this month, this year, this decade.

But those things can’t win.

Not when we keep Him closer still.

Not when He keeps us close to Home.

Refusing Fear

This week is the week I begin to refuse fear.

I refuse to start my week any longer with feelings of the possibility of inadequacy. Feelings of avoidance. Feelings of vulnerability.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of missing out.

I no longer want to live in fear.

I refuse.

Oh, it means I’ll face some uncomfortable things this week. If we’re being honest. Tell me I’m not alone in this. But if I am, that’s good too. I’ll just refuse fear anyway. And stress is a major trigger of depression. So I need to refuse fear, and approach the tasks coming with peace and serenity and NOT fear the outcome.

In the grand scheme, you might think they’re silly things to spend one’s life avoiding and stressing over but anxiety loves to link arms with depression.

A conversation with someone. An apology that needs to come from the heart. And a facing up to something I’ve been putting off. That’s all they are.

They’re actually not BIG things. They started out being small things that needed my involvement. Small everyday things.

And then I allowed fear to grow them. And until I refuse fear, fear will give the illusion that they’re massive obstacles to my enjoyment of life, causing me to find a million ways to hide, instead of embracing each day I have.

Well I’m tired of that.

So I’m starting my week refusing fear.

I have a new post it note plastered around the house, courtesy of author/speaker Jon Acuff and his book “Start: Punch Fear In the Face.” The notes say quite simply, “Some Beats None!” And it’s sort of an important reminder in a way. I’ve placed notes declaring this on all the trigger spots of my home where fear likes to try to raise its head.

I can hide all day for weeks on end, avoiding something uncomfortable… or I can deal one small step at a time. For one small attempt to face the stresses or obstacles is better than no attempt. One small victory is better than no victory. A little bit of something accomplished is better than nothing accomplished.

And so I go about my day reminding myself that some beats none. And I watch as fear is replaced with something else.

Determination.

Determination is how you refuse fear. Brave people are brave people, not because they can make their circumstances disappear in a puff of smoke and live a life of rainbows and lollipops. Brave people are just that because they walk through the circumstance and come out the other side. Perhaps a few battle scars. Perhaps one or ten lessons learned. But brave because they endured regardless.

They refused fear.

And when I turn to the greatest book ever written, it confirms the right to refuse fear.

At least 103 times, but some argue more depending on literal translations, the Word of God says, “Fear not!”

And this is never a flippant dismissal of our needs and wants and panic attacks. He is very aware of our fears and needs. It is God reminding us that we have Someone who has already provided victory over the most serious fate ever, and that if “God is for us, who can stand against us?”

The ‘Joshua 1:9 God’ who is with us wherever we go.

The ‘Psalm 91:1-16 God’ who is the surest refuge, the most solid fortress, the most faithful shield.

The ‘John 16:33 God’ who is the mighty Overcomer.

The Philippians 4:13 God’ who keeps providing strength….

I could go on and on.

He is a determined God who wants to fuel your life with hope and assurance. In the very midst of whatever you need to refuse fear over, He is there.  Where He is, there is life.

Don’t you want a life free of fear? That’s in His job description.

So I start my week with a prayer, an echo, a hook, sounding remarkably like Psalm 121. I remind myself that He is where I find my help, my source, my strength.

And Fear cannot reside where faith lives. It can try. But the perfect love of the perfect Father casts it aside.

You can lift a prayer too. You can refuse fear.

The Father wants you to stop hiding. You’ll never live the way He designed you to, until you do.

Let’s start a week the way we need to. Without fear.

Guilt Be Gone

This post was originally posted last year… but I needed to hear it again while I take this week off. I hope it speaks to you too!
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Sometimes I think we love to beat ourselves up.

Guilt is one of those voices we have to stop listening to, if we’re to ever live up to our amazing potential.

Oh, there’s a lot of voices we listen to over the course of the day. Fear is the big one, Failure, Jealousy, Unhappiness, Defeat, etc… But Guilt has no problem sharing the stage with any one of those. It likes to tag team. It’s the back up plan. It’s a player.

We all struggle with guilt.

And Guilt likes to hide behind expectation, goals, plans, promises, and pressure. It’s Fear’s end game. If Fear can’t put the kibosh on something you want to do, guilt sweeps in at the back-end and gloats that you couldn’t do it all, after all. Guilt declares that you’ll never attempt anything like that again because you’re useless. Guilt berates you into feeling lower than the floor over the tiniest little things. Guilt demands that you grovel and chant “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy!”

Personally, I really need guilt to take a hike.

Mistakes happen. Things get forgotten. Tasks get sidetracked. Words get tossed. People become overwhelmed.

Where in the rules does it say you HAVE to get groceries on a Saturday? And that if you don’t do it first thing in the morning, you might a well forget doing anything right for the rest of the week? Guilt told you that didn’t it?

Who decided that if every task on your list didn’t get a checkmark, that it meant you’re losing your touch, that you’re lazy, and no good? That the rest of the day you need to meditate on the word accomplishment, and how it doesn’t ever apply to you? Ah yes, that was guilt.

You missed church, you forgot a lunch date, you said something you shouldn’t have, you did something you shouldn’t have, you were someone you shouldn’t have been.

And not only that, but Guilt will keep this tremendous record of your flaws, goofs, and wrongs. It has a mind like a steel trap. It has no problem sneaking in as you congratulate yourself on a decent day spent with your family, and reminding you of that one day back in ’76 when you had to work instead of going to the ballgame, concert, parent night, birthday party, or field trip.

Yep. Guilt needs to take a long walk off a short pier.

Guilt especially loves to target people with depression. We spiral from “wow, I got a few things done today!” to “but so what? So did everybody else. You still missed the good stuff. You still can’t hack it as well as you should…” and before we know it, we’re a heap of misery in a corner somewhere wondering why we bother, and what good is it to do much of anything. Nothing is right! And you spiral into a pit. And you stay there. Covered in guilt. No, smothered in guilt.

Guilt is a huge trigger for depressed episodes. Time to be tired of being dragged through the proverbial mud. Time to banish guilt.

Great! How the heck do we do that?

First, remember who you are. You are amazing. You’re cherished by the Father. You’re a child of the King. You’re the one He takes the time to bring up out of the miry clay, and what? Put you right back in it? No, sets your feet on the Rock. The sure foundation. Guilt HATES a sure foundation. It prefers wallowing in the mud.

We are destined for more than mud.

But we have to believe it.

That’s the second thing. We have to believe that we’re more important than any social rule, any house wife’s tradition, any made up expectation. Stop trying to live up to super human standards and embrace being you. Change how and when and why you do things. Define your life according to doable standards. Burden-free standards. The Father’s standards are a great place to start.

And finally, cut yourself some slack. Life is messy enough. Guilt loves nothing more than to get you to sling your own mud, at your own self. Guilt tiptoes away after you continue it’s awful dialogue, with yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You’re complex, and complex can’t be stuffed into a box and made to perform perfectly. Start your day with some ideas, then see what you can do with them for today. Because there’s a tomorrow coming. You have day after day, and chance after chance, and guilt doesn’t belong in any of them.

I’m reminded of a certain product you can get at any hardware store. It removes the stickiest, tackiest, hardest goo from any surface. It’s manna from heaven. Okay, maybe not quite that epic but still. So instead of something like a Goo Be Gone type product, we need a Guilt Be Gone! We need something to wash that away without a hint of guilty residue!

That would be forgiveness. Forgiveness removes even the tackiest forms of guilt. Forgive yourself for being human. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, when in fact, no one is.

And know that you can access forgiveness from the Father. No mistake is too big when a wounded heart approaches His throne of grace. Grace! If forgiveness removes guilt, then grace removes shame. Grace asks you to keep moving forward. Grace sends you back out into your day with instructions to stop being so hard on yourself, to face your day with new dignity,  and instead shine every time you take a small step forward.

So you can raise your voice, and say, “Guilt! Be Gone!”

image by c.duncan

image by c.duncan

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