One of the most formidable barriers to a courageous life is the surge of anxiety. Feelings of uneasiness can be significant enough to prevent us from taking the next step in life’s journey. Although we sense God’s leading, this apprehension causes us to pause.
The fear-factor is a very real thing. We all experience it in varying degrees and allow it to manifest in different ways. It’s wise and laudable to exercise caution when uneasiness approaches. It’s a healthy warning system. When the immediate negative reaction, however, does not even allow for consideration of a next action, we effectively remove ourselves from a courageous life.
If we are honest, we’ll recognize that fear creeps into our lives with alarming regularity and prevents our next move. The unsettling nature of uncharted waters often speak louder than our own desires. It’s like walking on a moving sidewalk. You move along briskly but then come to the end. You could stay at the end of the moving sidewalk, taking step after step in known territory while never making the final move to step off the end of the moving treads.
Overcome the Obstacles
We must be aware of our anxieties to be courageous. When we pause to identify them, it becomes possible to unravel their hold and to make a plan to work through them. What produces fear or worry in your day? Some of my fears that keep me on the moving sidewalk of anxieties include:
Anxiety of the unknown compels me to plan and research and then plan some more (resulting in limited forward movement)
Concern that people will think badly of me coerces me to over commit my time (and do things others want but not necessarily what God is calling for my life)
Fear of rejection causes me to over think when to share the Gospel message
When we identify our anxieties, we learn more about ourselves. We recognize areas where growth is needed along with innate personality traits. The knowledge helps us to be courageous. For example: Because I know my people-pleaser tendencies, I typically ask for time to think over new opportunities when asked to participate. This allows me to pray over it and truly determine if the Lord is leading me into something new. If not, with courage, I am able to decline and continue moving forward in areas where I am called.
One Final Thought
We will never live a completely fearless life. As we already noted, caution actually is a healthy response. We need, however, to recognize the big fear obstacles and address them. By calling them out, we are able to take action despite our fears. This is courageous living.
In his article “No Peaceful Warriors”, Ambrose Hollingworth Redmoon wrote, “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear. The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave.”
Prompts to Journal