A Million Bees

Hi friends! This post is part of a 7-week series on overcoming fear in which a few friends will be dropping by as guest bloggers. Please visit their blogs, linked at the bottom of their posts here, if you’d like to hear more from them. Here’s to getting a little more free from fear together. – Bree

A Million Bees by Jennifer Petecki

Overcome: Deal With — to defeat or succeed in controlling or dealing with something.

Overcome: Unable to Act — to prevent someone from being able to act or think in the usual way.

Overcome: To Defeat (an opponent) — prevail.

I am not much of a writer, so forgive me if I make mistakes. When I started this project, I asked several other women to write a few words about how they overcame fear. I had a strong need to share from many points of view the process with overcoming fear. Not just from the side of the overcomer but of the person attempting to overcome, as well. I don’t want to bog down this article with my own personal story. Like many of you, I have ADLBD. Attention deficit long blog disorder. The 6 other women have beautifully written how they overcame fear and how they are working toward getting free or staying free. I will share the more practical side of how I allowed God to work in me and through me by renewing my mind daily. If you haven’t read the 6 other articles in our fear series, please check them out.

Let’s get a few things out of the way.

You may have trouble breaking free from fear if you are telling yourself this is your personality, your dad was stressed out all the time so you are too, it doesn’t harm much, it’s just the way God designed you, etc. If there is something in your mind right now making you think you can’t even be totally free I want you to stop and ask God for hope to flood your mind. Then allow Him to start working on your heart and mind.

You need you ask yourself: are you willing to put in the work (especially at the beginning) to break free from fear? Do you want to be healed?

A story from John 5. One man there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and realized that he had spent a long time in this condition, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am on my way, someone else goes in before me.” Then Jesus told him, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man was made well, and he picked up his mat and began to walk.

I am 36 and I can’t imagine laying by a pool for that long waiting for someone else to put me in. You have to ask yourself, do YOU want to be made well?

Ok, ready? How do I renew my mind daily?

Identify and ask God if there are any lies that need to be replaced. Can’t think of any right now? Wait until your husband comes home and irritates you. What pops into your head? Some of my lies toward my husband used to be: Why am I the only one that cleans or disciplines, He hasn’t said two words to me today, or Why won’t he help me?

Mine revolved around absolutes and partial truths. My husband does clean and so does my son, my husband does speak to me, but he is more internal and thoughtful, and he does help me. These were twisted lies or partial truths and sometimes more blatant lies.

I would start with reminding myself of God’s Word. If I didn’t know it, I would start reading or do a scripture search. God’s Word says I am not alone. Yet, I felt alone when I was cleaning by myself. I had to convince myself of God’s Word by repeating it over and over. As often as needed until those lies either went away or I was able to immediately say, “No, God’s Word says I am not alone.”

Is it kinda this easy? Yes. But it takes practice and learning God’s word. It takes being willing to break free from fear or other mental hindrances.

The way I described replacing lies, works the same with fear.

My husband was an hour late from work one night and I was going crazy wondering what happened to him. Was it a wreck? Did something bad happen? I could have been imagining that something good was happening like he was bringing home dinner, but I was so focused on it being bad news. I was panicking. This is irrational fear. Fear without any truth. The only truth was he was late and I didn’t know where he was. That’s it. I needed to activate hope. “God, what does your word say?” Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” If my husband has a hope and a future, he will be okay.

If we know all things work together for good, our mind begins to be at peace when our son doesn’t check in on time or we can’t get a hold of our elderly parent. Our mind begins to be at rest in God’s truth, until the truth is revealed. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This works for every thought that enters your mind. If your thoughts are critical, mean, condemning, make you feel bad, make you panicky, or make you want to harm yourself or someone else, they are NOT from God. Pay attention as you go into the new year trying to recognize your thoughts, God’s thoughts and the thoughts of the enemy. Make a list of the obvious lies. Maybe fear isn’t what you deal with the most but insecurity is. Start filling up your mind, changing it to see the biblical truth that you are: known, loved and seen by God, you are not alone, you have strength, you are ________. Whatever you need, God will provide it in His word.

Find the lies or negative thoughts. Replace the lie with the truth.

What is the truth? God’s Word. Not your own opinion and not the advice of a friend. Get the real biblical truth. Our friends and mentors can be an amazing help, but we need to seek God’s Word first.

Read it, memorize it, write it, speak it, sing it, and start filling your mind and heart with it.

Start with Psalms if fear is the biggest problem. And start playing praise and worship music in your home. If you deal with fear, praise and worship will transform your home. It’s also hard to get in a fight with your husband if people are singing to God in the background.

“I can’t get a hold of my mom! She always answers the phone.”

“God, when I am afraid I trust you and have faith in you.”

Psalm 56:3 (AMP) “When I am afraid, I will put my trust and faith in You.”

You are praying back scripture. You can think on these things, you can pray them back, speak them out, declare them, because they are powerful. God’s word is living and active. Sharper than any two edge sword. You not only renew your mind but you replace deep lies with truth, you heal your mind and heart of wounds and you start to transform. You will think clearer and feel safer. You begin to have more peace and less negative thoughts.

“God, you have not given me a spirit of fear! I have not been given a spirit of fear!”

I screamed this once as a million bees landed on me at a gas station. Okay, maybe like four bees? But four bees is enough bees. Funny in hindsight. I was scared, I am human. But I knew to call on the truth. I have not been given a spirit of fear. I have been given the Holy Spirit and he renews my thoughts and attitudes.

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”

John 14:15-31 (AMP) (Jesus said) “I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]”

When fear tried to enter my room one night, I said out loud, “no.” It was more of a creepy feeling or shadow than really seeing something, but I knew it didn’t have the right to mess with me. I don’t live in fear anymore. “I am not that person anymore!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” I rolled over and said out loud to God, “I will lie down in peace and sleep for you alone will keep me safe. I will dwell in your safety.” Psalm 4:8 (NLT) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. I had memorized that one back when I had depression and trouble sleeping.

I do claim to be free from fear, but hear me when I say, fear will try to keep coming back off and on. Stay strong, renew your mind, tell fear “no”, and live the abundant life God has blessed you with. In the process of writing this project God exposed a couple of areas of fear that were deep in my heart, so I prayed and had him deal with them. He wants us to be made well and he cares so much about us. Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” He knows our anxious thoughts even when we don’t.

Let’s pray!

Father God, hi. Thank You for what You are doing in and through each of us as we learn new skills or are reminded how to break free from mindsets and lies. God you have not given us a spirit of fear but the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to bring us perfect peace and strength. Thank You for allowing me to share how I overcame fear with You leading the way. It’s all for Your glory and honor Lord. You came to set the captives free and I don’t want to be a captive anymore. God you are so so good to us and I will remind myself of Your goodness even when my circumstances don’t line up with what the Bible says. Use us to teach others how to break free. Give us passion for those that haven’t heard the good news yet of the freedom You offer. Thank You for life. Thank You for giving us the mind of Christ that prevails and defeats our enemy’s lies! Amen!

Are you an overcomer? How have you overcome fear? Do you use a variety of skills?

My favorites are praise and worship (all day – every day), prayer, and reading and declaring scripture. I use several translations of the bible. Use the one you like but if you are stuck, I suggest trying something new. I like to read a lot of translations so I can gain deeper understanding.

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Overcoming fear. Freedom from the idol of addiction.

When I first started penning this post in my head, I knew I wanted to write about a time that I overcame fear. I wanted to share with you the tools I used to help me overcome my greatest physical, emotional, and spiritual battle. I heard a song recently called Clear The Stage by Jimmy Needham. The lyrics are so true to what I had to do to survive quitting my 20 year addiction to opiates. You can listen to the song here: https://youtu.be/6smGew7dGto

I’ve overcome many fearful situations in my life. Specifically, in the past 2 years, I’ve overcome the fear of leaving a decade long abusive relationship and marriage, the fear of leaving a good job, the fear of leaving my home, my husband, my dog, my town, and the fear of moving home (again) and telling my family the truth about how I had been living.

I also recently overcame the shock of being verbally abused and pushed out of my home church by pastors I love and respect. To be fair, they didn’t tell me I had to stop coming to the church. They did, however, call me names and treat me inappropriately, and so I chose to leave. Praise God that I never had much fear about telling my family why I wasn’t going to that church anymore. I actually had a great peace about it. That peace came from God and from knowing my family loved me so very much. I’ve heard horror stories of families and friends disowning and turning on loved ones because of their sexuality. But I had no fear about that with my family. After all, with everything I’d been through, the least of their worries was who I chose to love… as long as it was a healthy, loving relationship. There was some fear about telling certain friends; friends in the church, my friend who is a pastor’s wife, my friend who is a pastor’s daughter, my mentors and women I consider spiritual mamas, and my friends at work who didn’t know much about me. I am so blessed that in each of these instances I’ve been met with nothing but kindness and love. In fact, all of the above was fairly easy compared to the fear of quitting my addiction.

Absolutely the scariest thing I’ve ever done is quit my 20-year addiction to opiates. Quitting was a decision I had to make. It was hard. I knew what was ahead of me once I quit using the drug that prevented my withdrawals. I was under a doctor’s care and being prescribed a medication to prevent withdrawals. It was a band aid medication. I wasn’t abusing painkillers anymore, but I was now addicted to this anti-opiate medication. What a lot of people don’t realize is that stopping that medication would bring on the same sort of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms as quitting heroin. I knew what that meant because I had tried to quit many times before on my own. I knew the weeks and months of physical pain and sickness and emotional turmoil quitting a 20-year addiction would take. I had tried to quit dozens of times before. I knew the fire I was walking into. I also knew that going through the fire was the only way to get sober. It would burn me inside and out. But it would also refine me and heal me, burning out the old and replacing it with the new. And I wasn’t going into that fire alone; this time I had Jesus and my loving family.

The first line of Jimmy Needham’s song says “Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze. If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols.”

That is what I had to do. My addiction had become an idol. I had come to know Jesus years before I quit. I was going to church, doing Bible studies, listening to worship music, going on Christian retreats, reading my Bible and praying daily… all while being medicated everyday just to maintain “normal”. But as the lyrics go “you can sing all you want to and still get it wrong; worship is more than a song“. I had to clear the stage, clear my life of all the stuff that was preventing me from quitting drugs. I had to leave my co-dependent abusive relationship. I had to quit my job where being high was the only way I could function. I had to set ablaze all the things I thought I wanted, and set them at the foot of the cross, entrusting myself to Jesus. I had to humble myself before my family and Jesus. I needed help and I couldn’t do it alone.

I was very sick for weeks; weak, malnourished, depressed, not sleeping … all the typical opiate withdrawal symptoms. My memory was awful and my moods rollercoastered. I was a terror to live with and a sad sight. One very specific thing I remember is that at 39 years old I was too sick and weak to load a dishwasher. I knew that in time I would heal physically but that it would take even longer for my brain to heal. It can take the brain a year to begin healing from the type of addiction I had. And so I waited.

“Take a break from all the plans that you have made and sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper. Beg Him please to open up his mouth and speak, and pray for real upon your knees until they blister. Shine the light on every corner of your life until the pride and lust and lies are in the open.”

During that time of waiting, during the sickness and pain of withdrawal and healing, I turned to God. I put a battle plan in place. Sick as I was, I laid in bed for weeks reading the Bible. Weeks turned into months. Tired as I was, I wrote the Psalms (specifically 34, 116, 23, and 91) out on paper over and over and read them aloud over myself. This was a very good tip from a dear friend, and I recommend it to anyone dealing with a difficult situation. I still do this today when experiencing difficulties; it calms me and brings me peace. There is something about writing the Word out on paper, not typing, but slowly writing, paying attention to each Word and reading them aloud over yourself as if God wrote them just for you. I prayed and had trusted friends praying for me. I listened to worship music and praised Him even though I was hurting so bad.

“Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken.”

It had been weeks, going on months of me lying around the house sick and weak. More times than I can remember, I thought for sure I would not survive, or didn’t want to. One day, as I lay sick in my bed, I opened my Bible to John 5:8 where Jesus tells the man to “pick up your mat and walk”. And so I did. I got out of bed and went for a walk outside. I had not been outside for so long. The sun felt good. I couldn’t do that every day. Some days I was too weak or too depressed. Some days the best I could do was go sit in a sunny patch of grass in the yard. It was springtime. The giant oak trees became my church, the flowers the stained glass, and the birds the choir. I just kept looking for God. I knew He was healing me.

“Then seek the Lord, and wait for what He has in store, and know that great is your reward, so just be hopeful.”

Then it happened. One day I was able to help my mom load the dishwasher without getting sick or too tired. Before I knew it I was able to unload the heavy dishes and stack them up in the cabinets. Who knew that doing the dishes would be one of the biggest memories and milestones of my healing? It meant I was getting stronger. It meant I could finally help my mom who had taken such good care of me even when it was extremely hard to do so. I was thrilled in that moment. Standing there over a sink of dishes in my mom’s kitchen I wept. I wept for joy knowing God had healed me. I was getting stronger and I knew I would continue to get stronger as weeks turned into months which turned into a year.

Today I am proud to say that I conquered my fear, crushing the idol of addiction, and I am 1 year and 7 months sober. The process drew me nearer to the Lord than I had ever been before. The tools I used, like writing out the Psalms, praying with friends, and leaning into the Lord through His Word and worship, are still tools I use to conquer fear today. I know I could not have gotten off drugs and remained sober for 19 months now without Jesus. I have not relapsed once. That in itself is a miracle. I was healed completely by God. It is my biggest testimony. Praise God; I am healed.

“We must not worship something that’s not even worth it. Clear the stage; make some space for the One who deserves it. Anything I put before my God is an idol. Anything I want with all my heart is an idol. Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol. Anything that I give all my love is an idol.”

(1st picture: 2016, 2nd picture 2018)

Perfection, Performance and Anxiety

Hi friends! This post is part of a 7-week series on overcoming fear in which a few friends will be dropping by as guest bloggers. Please visit their blogs, linked at the bottom of their posts here, if you’d like to hear more from them. Here’s to getting a little more free from fear together. – Bree

Perfection, Performance and Anxiety by Heather Hughes www.mirrormirror05.com

Wearing a mask, building walls, the need to appear perfect, all play into anxiety. When you are a strong Type A personality with some slight OCD tendencies, anxiety seems to be a natural part of who you are. Well, at least in my case it is. Growing up, my family was a hot mess. I took on a great deal of responsibility at an early age. I guess as I grew up the need to look and at least appear perfect along with the need to control everything intensified. It wasn’t until well into adulthood I even realized that some of my behaviors, thought patterns and behaviorisms were linked back to anxiety.

I’m a married, mom of three, who happens to be on a church staff. I also hold a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling. One would think looking at this list, I would have all my stuff together and never waiver in my faith. When I look at where I am in life, while it may not be perfect, I really do have a great life. I have been married to the man of my dreams for a little over 13 years. I have 3, beautiful, healthy, active kiddos. If that’s the case, then why and how does anxiety play into my current life? The answer is deeper than what I can get into in a single post, but it’s a combination of past trauma and biology. Do you know how humbling it is to even admit out loud I have an anxiety disorder and have a therapist?

What many people don’t realize is anxiety falls on a spectrum. Some of what you think of anxiety is what you picture and is often portrayed in movies. Other people are ones you may consider to be “Worry Warts,” or characterize as “high strung.” Not all who struggle with anxiety have panic attacks where you are struggling to catch your breath, crying uncontrollably, or rocking in a corner somewhere. Sometimes the person in front of you may being having a panic attack and you don’t realize it’s happening at all.

For example, a couple years ago I went on girls’ beach trip. It was divine. I was with some of my best girlfriends. The weather was gorgeous. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We were sitting in beach chairs, books in hand, enjoying conversation and listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore in front of us. If I were to describe a perfect moment in life, this would be one of them. All of a sudden a feeling of dread washed over me. My heart started racing and I wanted to flee. It was literally a feeling of fight or flight. The most frustrating thing is there was no identifiable trigger. All I could do was put down my book, get up and jump into the ocean. I swam out a ways and then stood there with my back to the shore doing deep breathing exercises until I no longer felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. My friends all assumed I was hot and wanted to cool off, not knowing anything was happening. Once I felt like I had my body back under control I went back to my beach chair. It wasn’t until later I told one of them what really happened. She wanted to support me, but because I was so embarrassed I couldn’t tell her in that moment.

In a later conversation with my therapist, she told me that in times of complete peace the body, always on guard, took the total lack of issues and triggered a physiological response. There is not always a identifiable trigger to panic attacks. We also talked about how other situations, not necessarily stressful can trigger an attack. Lack of sleep, hunger, intense situations and sometimes even talking to certain people can trigger an attack. Most people assume if people like me would “just quit worrying” or “think positive thoughts” the anxiety would disappear. Like so many other mental health disorders, there is a chemical imbalance and it’s not something we can just “think away.” Trust me, if that were possible I would have done it a long time ago.

Given that it’s something I have to live with, how do I cope on a regular basis? Most days I’m honestly ok. Therapy, the greenway and deep breathing exercises have been the best ways for me to deal with my anxiety. So far I’ve been able to avoid meds. This may not hold true down the road, but for now I don’t take anything.

The Lord and I also have many many long conversations. Please don’t hear me saying this is something that can be prayed away, because I know from experience, it can’t. It’s not that the Lord isn’t capable of taking away anxiety, but He doesn’t always choose to remove it from a person’s life. My faith is important to me and I can’t imagine walking down the road of anxiety without my faith. There are days when the fact that I am a Christian and on church staff the guilt and shame come into play. On those days I have a couple of people the Lord has put in my life I can turn to and lean on. I’m grateful the Lord has put people into my life who can be His hands and arms on the days I need them.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned this year is that I can’t please all people, all the time. There are days when I strive to do everything right and know that I’m going to fall short and it has to be ok. For so long I’ve allowed what others think to rule my life and I notice on the days when my anxiety is at its highest, I am trying too hard to please those around me. As silly as it sounds the song “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” has become an anthem for me in coping with life. Yes, the Lord has used a secular song to speak volumes into my heart and life this year. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let things, situations and even people go, especially if they don’t accept you for you.

My greatest encouragement to anyone who walks this path is to let things go. Don’t tell people you want to do things you don’t want to do. Don’t continue to try and get certain people to like you. Your greatest value comes from the Lord and not those around you. On the hard, high anxiety days cry out to the Lord. Give it all to Him. He knows how you are feeling anyway, so let it out. His shoulders are large enough to handle it. It may also help to find a trusted friend or therapist to help you walk the hardest, darkest days of anxiety. You are NOT alone. You are NOT broken. You ARE loved. You ARE valued. The anxiety many never completely disappear, but it does not have to define who you are or where you go in life.

Heather Hughes is a wife, mother of three and on staff at The Glade Church. She has been blogging for several years and has a book in progress. Heather’s passion is to speak into the lives of women, assisting them to build authentic relationships with the Lord and those around them. Blog: www.mirrormirror05.com

Fear