How to Break Free from Paralyzing Fear || My Testimony

What was your biggest fear as a kid? Some of us were afraid of monsters under the bed; others hated scary movies. As adults, fears become much more realistic and even dangerous. What is your biggest fear today? Spiders? Heights? Small spaces? Students, you may be afraid of failing your finals. On a more serious note, you might be afraid of a loved one dying or an abusive significant other. And it’s okay to have fears. It’s natural. Deep down, we all have them. You don’t have to be strong all the time. You don’t have to have it all together. Because we’re all struggling with something. We all have weaknesses. Today, I am sharing my testimony on how God helped me overcome my biggest fear.

In this post:

  • The Back Story
  • What the Bible Says About Fear
  • My Testimony: Overcoming My Biggest Fear
  • Four Steps to Facing Your Biggest Fear

I confess...

My biggest fear lies in the doctor’s office. Living with a chronic condition, I endured 13 surgeries in the first nine years of my life. As a result, I am incredibly afraid of needles. I can’t stand the sight. I can’t sit comfortably in a doctor’s office or the dentist chair. I’ve grown tolerant of novocaine at the dentist and flu shots, but what really sends me over the edge is getting an injection on the inside of my arm. Just the sight makes my body react without my control. I just can’t handle it, and I don’t know why. I haven’t gotten my blood drawn in over 10 years.  When I had to get an IV before getting my wisdom teeth out a few years ago, I went into a full panic attack. With this fear, I carry so much guilt, embarrassment and shame. I see people donate blood all the time. They make it look easy, and I think, “I’m an adult. I should just get over this. I wish I wasn’t like this.” But I can’t just get over my fear of needles.

Fear isn’t something you can just get over because, like a snake, fear constricts you, holds you tight and doesn’t let go.

Like a snake, fear constricts you, holds you tight and doesn’t let go.

What does the bible say about fear?

Did you catch my Adam and Eve reference? Satan embodied fear as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3 says:

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.  “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

In this passage, Eve is cautious of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God instructed her and Adam to not eat the fruit or they would die (Gen 2:16-17). Eve is so cautious that she adds another boundary, saying they shouldn’t even touch the fruit. But then the serpent speaks against God’s word, saying she won’t die, and that takes away her caution. She’s convinced to eat the fruit. As soon as Adam and Eve eat the fruit, they feel shame from their nakedness. They are afraid in the presence of God and hide from him. They gained knowledge of good and evil. So what happened to the ignorant bliss in the Garden of Eden? What happened to Adam and Eve’s perfect lives? All this fear and shame came when the devil walked in.

In this way, fear is not from God. It is from the devil. Ephesians 6 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” In other words, our fight isn’t against the world. No, we’re fighting with the devil. Why is he messing with us? His goal is to take us away from God. One of the strategies is to plant fears in our heads that make us question God’s word, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The devil is that voice in our head that says, “Don’t do it. You can’t handle it. You’re not good enough for this. You’re going embarrass yourself. You’re going to look stupid.” We hear that voice when we’re about to give a speech in front of a crowd or play in a sports game or audition for the school play. The devil is whispering lies in our ears to cultivate crippling fear that paralyzes us in our walk with God and stops us from doing God’s will.

The devil is cultivating crippling fear that paralyzes us in our walk with God and stops us from doing God’s will.

God and I have known for a long time that my fear of needles is crippling. It keeps me from getting proper medical care. I’m an adult. I’m going to have more medical procedures in my lifetime, so I know I need to overcome this fear, but it’s something I keep in the back of my mind to deal with whenever I get to it. Oh yeah, I’ll deal with it when I get to it. That was until last week, when God said, “It’s time.”

How I overcame my biggest fear | My testimony

For the past week or so, I’ve been dealing with unusual fatigue, so I went to the student health center on campus. And I don’t like going to the doctor in the first place, so you know I was feeling bad if I actually went willingly. I explained my symptoms to a nurse. She said I needed blood work to check for underlying issues, and my heart sank. Coming into the appointment, I had a feeling the doctors might want to do blood work, but I hoped that they wouldn’t or I would be able to book a separate appointment and bring a friend next time. This is literally my worst nightmare. As the fear rushed in, my heart started squeezing, then my stomach, my throat. The snake!!  I tried to make excuses to the nurse. Don’t I have to fast first? Is there a numbing cream I can use? Is there any medication I can take? Anything!? But no, the nurse wanted to do blood work that day. She left the room, and I start praying to the Lord in desperation. God, I’m going to need your peace right now! I can’t do this alone!

The nurse comes back in with her supplies and suggests putting on music to distract me. As she examines the veins on one arm, I tap Spotify with my other hand, click my worship music playlist, and Lauren Daigle’s song “O’Lord” comes on: "O’Lord, O’Lord I know you hear my cry." 

“Oh I love Lauren Daigle,” says the nurse.

And I’m like, what, wait, you’re a Christian? I get up on the examination table. She puts the tourniquet on my arm, and now I really freak out. This is the bodily reaction I was talking about. Seeing tears in my eyes, the nurse says, “Can I pray for you? Would that make you feel better?”

“Your love has lifted me above all the lies.”

I nod, and the nurse starts praying this comforting prayer over me. I’m so in shock I can’t even close my eyes. All I can think is: Is this really happening right now? Did God just send me an angel? What are the odds I would have a Christian nurse?

“No matter what I face this I know in time. You'll take all that is wrong and make it right.”

So the procedure begins. As I take deep breaths through it, she recites Philippians 4:6-7: “'Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Before I knew it, the blood work was over. For the first time in I don’t even know when, I left the doctor’s office with a smile. I smiled for what God had done.

When faced with my biggest fear and no one else to turn to, God showed up and reminded me that he is right there with me. It made me feel like I had God on my side. I can overcome this fear. While the devil might embody himself in fear, the Lord embodies himself in his people. He uses us to express every part of his character--His loving, comforting, peaceful nature--because we’re made in His image.

When faced with my biggest fear and no one else to turn to, God showed up and reminded me that he is right there with me.

How You Can Overcome Your Biggest Fears

Do you feel paralyzed in your walk with God? Do you need to make a big decision, but are afraid of the outcome? Do you feel paralyzed by fear?

Whatever fear you have, with God on your side, you can overcome. Confidence in Christ fights away all fear. We gain that confidence from putting on the armor of God. The second part of Ephesians 6 says, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

Remember when you were a kid and you heard a loud noise at night, you called out to your parents and they came to your room and comforted you. You can do the same with God. Call out to God when you feel afraid. Pray against the devil and darkness in your life. Declare he is not welcome. Read the truth in the Word of God, so you can identify and reject the devil’s lies.

“I will stand my ground where hope can be found.”
— Lauren Daigle, O'Lord

To those of you who feel paralyzed by fear, have confidence and faith in the Lord. With God, you can take a new job and have no fear. You can move to a new country and have no fear. You can start a new relationship and have no fear. You can go into ministry and have no fear. With God, you can live in freedom from the devil and walk into God’s will with no fear. Period.

God loves you so much that He does not want to leave you the way you are. He wants you to face your fears. And He is ready to help you do that.  Following the model of my story, here’s four steps you need to take when facing your fears:

Four Steps to Facing Your Fears

  1. Ground yourself in God’s truth (find more scriptures on fear below)
  2. Face it head on.
  3. Replace your fear with confidence in the Lord.
  4. Be patient with yourself

Thank you for reading to my story. I hope my story encourages you to grab God’s hand and start facing your fears. Let’s support each other in this journey to freedom. Share your biggest fear in the comments below, and comment encouragement on others’ posts.  What first steps will you take to overcome your biggest fear?

Brighten Your Day with These 10 Uplifting Psalms

Remember these?

Photo Credit: Slate Magazine 

I loved Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul books as a kid! Some of the series’ ingredients of success: celebrity contributors, relatable stories with authentic emotions, and personalized collections for each reader (from the teenager to the mom). There was chicken noodle soup for every stage of life. Drawn into each story, we could connect with each writer's situation and apply what they did to our lives. Like actual chicken noodle soup, each story felt warm and comforting. The series' founders, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, believed that sharing stories changes lives, and I couldn't agree more. Now that I’m older, I have different ways to turn around a bad day. Sometimes I treat myself to another book on Kindle or try a new Starbucks drink or bake brownies.

When I really want to feel good in my soul, I turn to my Bible, especially the book of Psalms. This book of the bible is a collection of song lyrics that the authors wrote in response to their situations. Like the Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul series, the writers of Psalms share relatable stories of feeling far from God, weathering a bad storm, and facing life-threatening situations. Psalms captures Israel returning from exile in Babylon and David’s exile from Jerusalem. I started reading Psalms back in April while going through a rough season. I found the scripture to be so uplifting as the Psalmists model how to stay close to God in troubled times.

Did you have a rough week? Need a nap? Need a drink? Need something to really refresh your soul? Before you break open the bottle, pull out your candles and climb in the bathtub (there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, girl!) ... try reading the Book of Psalms.

Today, I’m sharing my top 10 favorite passages from the book of Psalms.  Maybe you're feeling tired, anxious or desperate. These verses are the perfect pick-me-up on a bad day. Maybe you just had a big win or received an amazing blessing. Let these verses be your anthem of praise.


My top 10 favorite Psalms

“I was so foolish and ignorant. I was like a beast before you.
You hold me by your right hand. You will guide me with Your Counsel
And Afterward receive me to glory … My flesh and heart fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalms 72: 22-26

“Trust in the Lord, and do good. Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalms 37: 3-4

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say on the Lord!”
Psalms 27:14

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken for He is right beside me.”
Psalms 16:8

“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy
To all those who call upon You!”
Psalms 86:5

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”
Psalms 94:19

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever …
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses
For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
Psalms 107:1-2, 6, 9

“I will praise You, for You have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It was marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalms 118:21-24

“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?”
Psalms 27:1

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.”
Psalms 40: NLT

*Scriptures are taken from the NKJV version, unless otherwise specified. Italics added for emphasis.


The Bible isn’t your average book. God’s word is alive as He speaks through each page. Don’t just read the psalms. Interact with them. Highlight key verses. Write all over the pages. Ask questions in the margins.

3 Ways to Interact with the Book of Psalms

  1. Pray the scripture back to God. Did God just bring you out of a difficult season? Pray a song of praise by reciting Psalms 40.
  2. Read the scripture aloud. Remember the Psalms were originally songs; they were meant to be spoken! Read the verses aloud in prayer and to yourself. Scream them if you have to. Declare God’s word over your situation.
  3. Save your favorite verses. Write them on a separate piece of paper, and keep them in places you’ll see them: your car’s dashboard, above the kitchen sink, or on your bathroom mirror. You never know when you’ll need a little encouragement in your day.

I hope something you read here encouraged you today. I hope you feel uplifted and motivated for the coming week. What is your favorite verse from the Book of Psalms? Share in the comments below!

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

7 Day Journaling Challenge Reflections

Have you tried journaling, but could never stick to it? Have a lot on your mind and no way to vent? Are you in a dry season in your devotional life and want to switch things up? My 7-day Journaling Challenge is made for you. 

Last week, I shared why I love journaling, ways to incorporate writing into your devotional life, and 10 free prompts. (Haven't read my latest post? Need to download the challenge worksheet? Click here!)  I will be journaling everyday this week using my writing prompts and documenting my experience below. On this page, you will find the my experience and my reasoning behind each prompt.

How can I start the challenge?

  1. Read my last post. Download the challenge worksheet. 
  2. Each day, grab a pen and journal or scrap paper. 
  3. Follow the prompt instructions.
  4. Share your experience in the comment section of this post. (be sure to tell us what day you're on)
  5. Check here every day at 5 p.m. for my daily reflection
  6. Follow By Lady Bry on Facebook for more updates and fun!

Day 1

Today’s challenge: Take a moment, and close your eyes. Take a few loud deep breaths. Direct your attention to your body. Notice everything you smell, taste, and feel. Capture every thought. Now, open your eyes and dump out everything out of your mind onto paper.

My Observations:

  • an itchy eye, feeling annoyed
  • The Fosters tv show playing in the other room
  • thought: visualized an office building
  • no taste
  • no smell
  • heard the hum of the air conditioning

At first, I assumed my observations were random and trivial: an itchy eye, the hum of the air conditioning, etc. As I started capture my thoughts, I realized these observations pointed me to where my mind focused; I'm starting a new job, so of course my mind focused on an office building and the familiar hum of an air conditioning that puts me to sleep at 2 in the afternoon. In sum, this exercise gave me a greater sense of my thoughts.

Now it’s your turn. Try today’s prompt tonight, and tell me what you learned from your thoughts in the comment section below.


Day 2

Today's Challenge: Making a tough decision? Write out a pros, cons and opportunities list. Include how this decision will provide opportunities for you to share the love of Christ and bring glory to His name. 

Here, let me help you. I'll write down my list. Here's a trivial/comical example:

Decision: Should I stay at home and work on my blog or go to the library?

PROS

  • I work and focus better in the library because of the quiet environment.
  • Food is at home, and I'm always hungry. 

CONS

  • At home, I can easily be distracted by food, roommates, outdoor noises, etc. 
  • If I'm distracted, I'll get less work done. 
  • I will get more work done and plan ahead at the library

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Either way, I share God's truth in writing this blog.

In case you're wondering, I chose to go to the library. While this was a trivial/comical example, I've used this method to make much more important decisions, from choosing between two job offers to selecting a neighborhood live in. This method is more than just a pros and cons list, but makes you take God and His will into your decision making process.

Sometimes I have trouble making a decision because I'm worried I will choose outside of God's will. I've driven myself crazy trying to make a decision because I was so afraid of making the wrong one. I believed, "God has one calling/path/direction for my life, and I need to do everything I can to find it." My friends, that is a lie.

Here's the truth: There is no one right path for our lives. I first discovered this essential truth in Lysa TerKeurst's book The Best Yes (I highly recommend!) and learning this gave me so much freedom. God's will isn't a staircase. There's no one way up and one way down. There's a right way and a wrong way, but there's no one way. God's will is a road, and there's 10,000 ways to get to the right destination. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
— Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

So how do we make wise decisions? By following Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust that the Lord will guide you to the right opportunities. Instead of bending on your understanding of your future, bend to His gentle nudges and whispers even if they seem impossible or crazy. Acknowledge him in every decision you make by determining how you can glorify Him in every opportunity. 

What decisions do you have to make? Share what you think of this decision making method in the comments below.


Day 3

Friends, I owe you an apology. My daily challenge updates have turning into every other day check-ins. To be honest, I've been doing the challenge amidst starting a new job. (more on that coming in my next post on Monday) That being said, I have a free weekend with plenty of time to continue this challenge with you. Maybe you're like me and stopped the challenge halfway through. That's totally ok. I'm with you. Let's pick up where we left off.

Today's Challenge: List three things, people, or events you are grateful for and three prayer requests. 

Gratitude

Dear God, thank you for ...

  1. a successful job interview and new job
  2. a friendly work environment and supervisor
  3. opportunities to share my faith
  4. *bonus* blessing me even when I didn't think I deserved it, even when I doubted you

Prayer requests

  1. soften my heart to start tithing with this new job
  2. boldness to speak truth and love in the workplace
  3. an opportunity to share my faith with a co-worker

One of the latests trends in self-improvement/care is gratitude journaling, the practice of writing what you're grateful for at the start and end of each day.

Why is gratitude journaling important?

Our minds naturally remember bad events easier than good ones, also known as negativity bias.  Let's say you go to a party, talk to a bunch of people, dance and eat great food, but then you have a fight with your best friend. When you go home and think about the night, your mind will focus on the fight, not the fun parts of the night. That's negativity bias.

Gratitude journaling breaks our mental cycle of negativity, forcing us to think positively even in negative situations. I started gratitude journals at the beginning of the year. I never got into the daily habit, but still like to do it every once and a while. Listing my gratitude and blessings easy when life is good, but so challenging when things take a turn for the worse.

So, why do we need to think positively with gratitude journaling? God does not want us to dwell in defeat and pessimism, but instead lift our burdens to Him in prayer (hence the prayer requests in this prompt). He wants us to focus on His goodness and blessings in the middle of the storm. 

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
— Philippians 4:8-9

Day 4

Today's Challenge: Write a list of 16 people you need to pray for and why. Divide the list into four, and pray for 4 people each day for the next four days. Bonus: send an encouraging note/text or call to your people. Let them know you're praying for them. 

My list started as expected with family; then more people came to mind: Friends, I'd encounter that day, loved ones I had not seen a few months, people I didn't even know. I ended with 19 people. 

Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer. You may not see that prayer came to fruition. It could take months or years. You have to believe God will answer your prayers. How can we believe that? How has God answered your prayers or met your needs in the past week? Do you believe he can do the same for your friends? Think down to the details. Write your list in your journal, and share in the comments below. 


DAY 5

Today's Challenge: Write a list of all your fears. 

Today's prompt is about practicing honesty with God. Fear is like an invisible snake. We may not notice fear binding us, constricting us from God's will, sucking the life out of us. We serve a God that can cut us free from the bandages of fear. 


Day 6

 

How to Have Faith During a Difficult Season

Raise your hand, if you're tired of waiting on the Lord.

Let's get real. It's hard to have faith during seasons of transition. Whether you were just diagnosed with an illness, lost your job, graduated college (hello, class of 2017!), moved to a new place, or started a newschool, etc--seasons of transition often breed a lot of uncomfortable uncertainty. You go from knowing exactly what to do  each day to all of a sudden not having a clue what's coming up next. In these seasons, a lot of us try to create routine in being "good Christians." You read your bible everyday, pray each night and give an offering at church every Sunday. When people ask how are you, you answer, shortly "I'm fine" or "I'm good." Your family and friend send you the "encouraging" scriptures. You're excited and hopeful for what God has in store for your future.

But after a while, that initial faith wares away. You've applied to every job, tried every treatment ... and nothing seems to go your way. Sometimes you're sick and tired and #done with waiting on God. 

How do we persevere and continue to have faith in God as he has unwavering faith in us? First, we need fight song. Singer Kari Jobe penned a powerful ballad in her recent album about praising God in the midst of suffering. Listen below:

“Though my heart is torn open, I will trust. I will remember.
Even when my breath is weak,
Even in my suffering, I will sing, “Hallelujah!”
You are my God! You will not be shaken!

For those of you waiting on God in the midst of storm, try singing this song on repeat. Scream it if you have to. Praising and crying out to God brings us closer to Him. When Jesus walked on the water, he didn't immediately calm the storm (Mark 6:45-52). No, in the middle of the storm, Jesus walked out and revealed Himself to His disciples to show them, "I'm here." As we seek Him earnestly, desperately, God meets us where we are.

The Bible tells us to praise God at all times. Apostle Paul sets an example writing to the Philippians from jail (Phil 4: 4-9)

"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The LORD is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In the same verse, he tells us to not worry by, in colloquial terms, being straight with God. Tell Him of your troubles. Be specific. Don't sugar coat You can get real with God. Be honest. There's nothing you can't say to Him. Venting to the Lord in this way allows us to release our worries to Him, and in turn, our Heavenly Father will guard our hearts from anxiety in the future.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." 

You have unlimited access to the ultimate peace on Earth 24/7, and it's found in the Lord. When surrounded by darkness and negativity and self-doubt, we need to keep our minds on the Lord, his teachings, promises and his Word just as Paul says. Fix your eyes on Him and don't let them waiver. Sometimes we forget God created the whole Earth. He masterfully moves the wind and sea. He can calm your anxious heart and take away your fears.  In Him, all faith, hope and peace is found. He has everything you need to weather to storm.

Stay strong my friends. And even when you can't, cling to the God of Strength.