“She seemed to suffer from… you know, the fear of life.”
It was this phrase I heard while walking down the corridors at the University, passing by a conversation while I was deep in thoughts — but this phrase, these few words caught my attention and kept swirling around in my mind for many days after.
The fear of life.
In all honestly, I so understand that. I am looking at this season of endings and beginnings, of completion and new things. I am graduating with a Bachelor’s degree this month, and I am already more than half into my Master’s. In two and a half months, I will start my internship (as a speech therapist) after which I will be graduating very soon. Suddenly, I am staring at this thing called life where so many options seem to be open and there is the desperate seeking to know whether this option or that option is right or wrong — and honestly, it is quite terrifying on most days.
So this phrase, the fear of life — it makes sense these days.
I keep wondering, that maybe it comes easily to the heart that has crashed and burnt one too many times. Maybe it is the way that a heart remembers the bleeding wounds, the same way scarred skin still remembers the cuts. Maybe the hurts of the yesterdays, that we thought were long forgiven and forgotten — still sway our hearts and beg us to take cover, to build these walls of safety around us.
When we come to that crossroad where decisions need to be made for the future, it seems like this iron-fisted fear takes hold of our hearts and steals our strength, creeping into dreams in the restless, fitful nights and leaving a weight on our chests, heavy enough to make us forget to breathe. What once seemed like barely manageable but somehow doable, now becomes this impossibly great mountain — and on most days, we are too exhausted to even try and take the first step.
But the moment we make giving up an option, I know the iron-fisted fear keeps pushing us towards that and only that option. Though giving up seems like the best option — it is also the option that forgets our Maker, whose scarred hands carry us through every season of life.
“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
But we are all only human. I think we forget that quite often, requiring this supernatural knowledge and capabilities of ourselves — so that when failures comes around the corner and bumps into us, we stumble and fall hard, our balance thrown off in the swirl of life because no part of us thought that falling could ever be an option.
Fear keeps us from living so easily. I wish it would not, for your sake and mine. Because fear has a tendency to make things bigger and worse than they actually are — and the truth is, you are a conqueror in Christ.
So maybe that is where we are right now. Empty-handed and exhausted, the fear of life looming behind our shoulders and we let the shadow of fear cover us, cover that spark of hope that is set in our hearts. Maybe we have nothing to offer — and yet, that is always the biggest lie that keeps us from living for the glory of God. Because when we have nothing to offer? We have everything to offer, as we raise our empty hands to the Lord and ask Him to fill our hands with His purposes.
Maybe the only thing you have right now to offer, is your heart — the one broken, bruised heart that has been knocked around too many times to bear much more. But with that heart comes your faith, your dreams and prayers — and with those, your nothing becomes everything.
Because in all of it, God is with you. He is able. He is willing. He sees you, your weaknesses and failures, the fears and doubts — and He loves you. Just as you are. He wants to use you. Just as you are. And He wants to bring you forward.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Dear friend, I wish I would have the right words, the needed advice on how to let go of fear. I wish I could tell you to live life with a heart that is free from fear, that isn’t stopped by the crippling anxiety of the unknown. But all I can do is to remind you, like I am reminding myself so often these days — that your soul has been redeemed and set free. Death cannot touch you; the darkness cannot hold you down. His grace is always greater than any circumstance. He is with you. You are so much braver than you know.