I remember toasting in the New Year with a glass of something pink and bubbly as my sister and I watched The Ball drop together in my living room. I remember thinking that 2020 was such a cool number and that it must be a lucky year full of excitement and new horizons.
Obviously, I won’t quit my day job for fortune-telling.
It’s now June, and I feel like I’m stuck in a personalized production of World WarZ or Walking Dead. We’ve had impeachment trials, an almost-war with Iran, World Wide Pandemic, lockdowns, riots, destructions, millions unemployed, economic disruptions, UFOs declassified by the government, murder hornets, and unrelenting anticipation about the rest of the election year.
As a human, my first reaction was fear. Panic. Dismay. Heart palpitations.
But as a Christian, my first reaction should have been resting in divine strength through God’s presence, love towards those God has put in my life, and a well-control mind guided by common sense.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” -2Timothy 1:7
As it happens, American-Christians don’t live in active faith. We are rich, well-fed, safe, and un-persecuted (by the rest of the world’s standards.) We “don’t need God” daily because really bad things don’t happen in our world. When hard times disrupt our life, we clunkily change gears from fear to faith. Christians should automatically fall back onto faith, skipping fear as a first option entirely.
As the stock market crashed and I lost hours at my job, my first reaction was to panic. But once I came to my senses I knew that God called me to a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. Panic is not an option nor a luxury Christians get to dabble in.
Tolkien once said, “A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it.”
There comes a time for every true Christian to face the fear of 2020 and turn back to Faith. When I started to climb out of my hole and find God’s presence again, I had to do the uncomfortable and dirty job of cleaning out the cobwebs from my heart.
I think it’s easier for us to fold into a fetal position and wrap ourselves in a blanket of fear than it is to confront our own rationality. It’s far harder and more uncomfortable to act in faith, truth, and love. Living in fear is not only spiritually detrimental, but it is also directly linked to many diseases! God tells us not to fear 365 times--it might be because it can physically harm us as well as spiritually maim us.
Fear is also a tool used by the Enemy to wound the effectiveness of God’s people. If you are living in fear and anxiety, you have essentially defected to the Devil’s side and you are a burden to God’s kingdom, not a builder. If you have one rebel bone in your body, use it to rebel against the comforts of fear.
As I climbed from “the pit of despair” there were 4 things that helped me free my heart from fear. I'm still a work in progress, and fear will always be an enemy. But when we can get to a place where fear is not our first reaction, we have overcome!
Refind Your Faith
When your faith-game isn't on point, the rest of your life will lack as well.
It's so important to refind your faith and rebuild your relationship with God. Not because you want to get something from Him, but because Jesus is the most amazing life choice you will ever make. He affects every part of our lives and we need Him even when times seem good.
For the person who carries God in their heart, they get to partake of this incredible promise of Hope.
Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Highest
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Highest, who is my refuge[b]— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
This is basic Christianity 101, but even I forgot it: God has to be the source of our hope and our peace. He is the God who made heaven and earth--His long term plan is reform and universal peace. Remembering and resting in the thousands of promises in the Bible should be commonplace Christian practice. But here we are in the middle of a pandemic, worried.
We have to get back to God to experience the fearless, peacful life we long for.
Many of my friends (and myself) have gone back to the Bible and cleaned out our prayer closets. Getting closer to God has never brought so much peace in my life. When I hear more bad news, I can sleep because Jesus is here with me! He already wrote the ending. It's going according to plan!
A great place to start your spiritual walk is to read the Bible. Hang out with friends who are seeking God, too. Pray. Live a life of genuine love to others. Fear has no place in the light of God's presence.
Delete Social Media And Be Picky About Your News Sources
The opposite of a sound mind.
If you can feel anger or fear bubbling up over a headline, without asking questions or understanding the true context, you are responding emotionally and not in a sound, well-balanced mind. Fear is an emotional response to things that are sometimes not even true. Every time I opened my IG or FB apps someone was arguing over something political, some were calling for the end of the world, and others were reposting false link bait which unsuspecting scrollers read and assumed was true.
The party happening on social media is way too wild for me, guys.
Deleting social media is a sore spot for many people, and at first, I felt uncomfortable about leaving it. But now that I’m on the other side, I have no regrets. The result is peace.
Because I have more time, I keep in touch with the people I care about the most through old-fashioned text, calls, and MarcoPolo. We also have people at our house for dinner and games about 4 times a week! My social life is far more meaningful (and private) than ever--and I’m free from the lies, the control, the mainstream, the needless fear. When people talk face-to-face about real issues, the world seems less cold and lonely.
I dabbled in a lot of little online sins like gossip, assumptions, cowardly comments, unfriending people in real life, etc... those sins have turned into a much bigger problem: personal unrest. And I know that I am not the only one.
The same goes for the News. When God said he gave us the “spirit of a sound mind,” that means we can rationalize evenly without emotional reactions. News headlines are formulated scientifically with the intent to create emotional responses, which spark anger, fear, and hate. The Media manipulates your fear to squeeze money from the high ratings and clicks, and I refuse to play the game.
Rethink your news sources. Stray away from the big companies like FOX and CNN and tune into smaller stations with brighter commentators who aren't consumed and controlled by money. It's okay to be unorthodox and branch out!
This is not about being uninformed or hiding your head in the sand. It's about freeing yourself from anything that is not pure, useful, or true.
Rewiring your lifestyle is hard work, but you will become addicted to the newly found freedom once you commit.
“Education is freedom.” I’m not sure who said that first, but it’s a powerful, powerful quote. If you want freedom from fear, education is the place to start. And the best part is, you just need a local library, not a college campus, to be educated.
Most of the fear in the world right now is a false truth or overdramatized truth. Many times there are creative ways to fix those same problems if only people were educated and informed.
If the extent of your education comes from social media, it’s time to branch out. If you followed the above advice and got rid of social media, you probably realized you have a lot of free time now. Use this time to re-see your world. Peace comes when we have a sound mind and can clearly see the fears in front of us for what they are, or have solutions to fix them.
Love The People God Has Put In Your Path
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. ~1 John 4:19-21
This is something that has been on my heart the most since our world started spiraling out of control. I think focusing on others and their needs is a key to peace because Jesus’s last and greatest commandments were to “love one another” and to “love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Love is the most powerful element of our humanity because it is the opposite of everything bad. It has the power to undo wrong. It can conquer fear. It can bring back the dead. It makes life worth living.
Jesus's last command wasn’t to stockpile food, or live your best life, or be a famous evangelist: it was simply to love people around us. He even said to love your enemies! Jesus’s love was in action his entire life.
Is our love in action?
"Love people" sounds like such a Disney thing to do and it sounds so silly. But the greatest things are often the most obvious. Jesus taught us how to fight evil with goodness, charity, and humility because when the world is full of darkness and evil, that is the greatest and most effective way to fight back.
Love isn’t an emotion but an action. Jesus lived a perfect life. Jesus died for us. Jesus healed. Jesus walked with people. Jesus talked with people. Jesus showed mercy to his enemies. If you look closely at your life, who has God put in it? He put you in someone's life for a reason. That reason was to love them. Build relationships with people. Open up your home. Ask genuine questions. Fill areas of need. Compliment strangers. Volunteer. Pray for your enemies. Have respectful conversations with them. Show out-of-this-world kindness.
The greatest enemy of fear is love. Why? Because if you are too busy loving, you don’t have time for mindless fear.