The plane shook, and she woke with a jolt, headphones out, heart racing, stomach clenched. The “fasten seatbelt” sign flickered on as turbulence grew.
“Please God, don’t let us crash. Please save us,” she prayed.
A minute later, the turbulence died and her fears stilled. It was nothing, it was over. She’d be fine—for now.
This is fear, what held me so captive, what stunted my growth. It didn’t matter where: a plane, a crowded subway car, a tiny room. I was afraid of death, afraid to speak truth, afraid of confrontation, afraid to live freely.
I have long had a love-hate relationship with my emotions—especially fear. Emotions have helped me embrace God’s presence in unimaginable ways; they have inspired songs in my heart and have helped me love better. But they have also torn away my trust in God and have sent me to dark, lonely places.
A friend once said, “Emotions are the absolute lowest form of truth.” I did not understand. How could a feeling so tangible be a complete lie? I responded with a shaky laugh and continued to avoid acknowledging my fear as if it were the plague. It was exhausting: to one minute feel confident and the next to feel hopelessly frustrated.
I finally turned to God and asked Him to teach me about fear. He brought me to Matthew 14, when Jesus called Peter onto the water, and began to speak:
Fear comes when I am far from Jesus. Jesus’s disciples were far from Him. I fear when I am far from Jesus and swayed by the winds of this world.
Fear makes me lose sight of who God is. When the disciples saw Jesus, they were terrified and thought He was a ghost. When I fear, I forget who God is and what He can do.
Fear grips me when I look away from Jesus. When Peter walked onto the water, he turned his face from Jesus to the wind. Fear comes when I focus on the size of my situations.
Fear grows when we lose trust. Jesus said to Peter, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) He did not ask Peter why he was afraid. Fear did not make Peter sink. Allowing fear to hinder his trust did.
Fear takes us from the present. Peter grew afraid when he stopped focusing on the present. He looked to the past (“I have never been able to walk on water”) and to the future (“I will sink”).
Fear leaves when Jesus holds us. As cheesy as it is, what casts out fear is love. I am growing to not only understand God’s love, but to accept it and embrace Him.
I am still afraid, but I try not to run from my fear. I run to Jesus, and my fears leave me. In this life, I will always be held by something. Peter was held by fear until Jesus held Him. I decide every day whom I will allow to hold me in this life.