“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Fear is a powerful word. Fear is real. It can stop us right in our tracks, debilitating us. It is the enemy messing with our heads—lying to us, telling us we are less than worthless, and discouraging us from hope. Fear also mirrors that you need to grow in strength and wisdom.
I was afraid of my mother. She was very strict, critical, and moody. She was the disciplinarian of the house. I felt I could never make my mother proud of me as a child no matter how or what I excelled at. Often, she called us, “stupid, good-for-nothing kids.” When I became an adult, I was still anxious and worried she was looking over my shoulder, disapproving angrily, even when she wasn’t there in my apartment.
I wanted to become an actor with my main goal being to make a television commercial so my mother could see me looking back at her on her T.V.; then she would see that I could shine. When it aired, she was shocked, happy, and proud, especially when the neighbors said they saw her daughter on T.V.! She didn’t know I could act or desired to. I finally felt an achievement of my own, and validation that I mattered to her! I WAS GOOD FOR SOMETHING. I knew it; I just had to prove something big to her. How sad that I wasn’t sure of her love or felt validated that I was important to her. That fear was a lie, and I bought it.
“What are YOU afraid of?” I posed this question one night at a dinner.
One guest said he was afraid of getting cancer because his family has a history, and many family members had died from it. Both his parents were diagnosed and, thankfully, are survivors.
One woman said she was afraid of being racially profiled.
Another said she was afraid of being alone in dark, unknown locations.
A young man said he was afraid of disappointing those he loves.
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25
“What do you DO to calm your anxiety?” I asked them.
“I get cancer checkups; I need to take care of myself and my family.”
“When I’m afraid, I do what I love. I draw and write stories.”
“I surround myself with good people I trust, and work with my community in being a part of the solution and not the problem.”
“By having the support and love of my family, it gives me strength.”
- Action cures fear.
- Prayer leads to strength.
- Support provides wisdom.
- Mentors encourage and give good advice.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
Action cures my fear. When I’m nervous, frazzled, or scared, I stop and acknowledge the moment, take a breath, and then I say this little prayer over and over again, “God is with me all the time.” When I do, I don’t feel alone, my anxiety melts away, and , it’s replaced with focus and courage. Change your focus; keep your sight on God.
“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13
Prayer is strong medicine. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer, it is an honor to pray for others. God lets us contribute to aide one another in this way. *A helpful tip – If you feel uneasy about asking for prayer for yourself at church or don’t attend church for whatever reason, ask your prayer warrior friends on social media for their help. There are so many prayer groups that you may join or just put in a prayer request. God sends help when we least expect it.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil 4:6
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Support and knowledge provide wisdom. Support is all around us; you just need to seek it out. We know more about mental illness, cancer, racism, dangerous streets, and the weather— basically anything that we’ve ever known, and tomorrow we will know more.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 NIV
Seek a mentor. These are people you trust, admire or respect. They could be within your community or not. They could be doctors, teachers, parents, clergy, or co-workers. The internet is full of free information and encouragement. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Reflecting on my relationship with my mother, we realized she suffered from mental illness, she was possibly bi-polar. This was never diagnosed because it wasn’t something doctors knew too much about back then. She wasn’t sure how to express her love, and didn’t understand how to control her emotions. She didn’t confide in anyone and felt alone and afraid, which turned into resentment towards her husband and children.
Before she passed away many years ago around Halloween, she was invited to a neighborhood party. As I was helping her with her costume, in a tender moment between us, she confided in me a secret. Apparently, when she was young, she once had dreams of performing in the theater as a singer and actress, but was afraid to make it happen because, she grew up poor, and nobody she knew believed in that kind of dream or in her. Then she became married, had kids, and her dream was over. She gave me a sweet, proud smile, and said she was proud I was able to make my dream come true. I realize now that back then, when she was having a good day, she was always singing, and singing took away her fears.
Fear may have led me to reach down deep, which made me gain the strength to bring up the good stuff that gave me the momentum to move forward. It may have pushed me to seek Jesus and His wisdom, and also to reach out to others for help, and even to open my borders to new opportunities, knowledge, and growth in His name. But the one thing that I did not do is, let fear rule and cripple me. I know I am good for something. I always was, and will always be because, I am a daughter of the King of Peace.
And that is the truth.
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’” Isaiah 41:13-14
About this Contributor
Irene Santiago’s moto is A.B.C = I Act Because of Christ. She is an award winning, working actress, voice talent, speaker, acting coach, and producer. Her work can be seen in television, film, theater, and several commercials. You can find her on her website, facebook, twitter and IMDb.
The article, How Fear Inspired My Life & Career, first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).