The Four Most Powerful Words for Overcoming Fear
It wasn’t a particularly useful skill, but it was something that I loved doing. It was my “claim to fame” as a kid, my one impressive trick. For a while, I was good at diving. I had a friend, Carrie, who did back flips off the diving board like it was the easiest thing in the world. One summer day, between fourth and fifth grade, I asked her to teach me how to do what she did.
Carrie was my best friend, a tiny, but bossy, little dictator. Tough. Fearless. She was a gymnast, trained in the tradition of coaches who demanded perfection and yelled to get results. She took my request seriously, channeling her best imitation of Bela Karolyi(except we were at the pool, not the gym). We didn’t stop practicing that afternoon until I was successfully doing double backflips off the end of the diving board.
I was more scared of Carrie than I was of hurting myself on the diving board. But she got results! And it’s actually a good memory, that afternoon of learning how to do back flips, because I was proud of my accomplishment.
For the next year, anytime I got in a pool, I would practice and push myself to add even more difficulty to my flips. I never had a coach (other than Carrie) and I never competed. But still, I dreamed of doing back flips off the high dive at the Olympics.
One day, being somewhat careless, I didn’t get enough distance between the diving board and my head as I flipped backward. My head hit the board on my way into the water. There was a lot of blood in the pool and the lifeguards strapped me onto a backboard, just to be safe. I was fine, other than a cut and a knot on the back of my head. They wouldn’t let me back in the pool afterward (of course). I had to go home and be watched for a concussion. The incident didn’t feel particularly traumatic at the time. I was mostly upset that I had to go home and I couldn’t swim anymore.
Shortly after that, during the winter of my sixth-grade year, my family moved to a new town. We didn’t have an indoor pool nearby anymore so it wasn’t until months later that I was back on a diving board.
I walked to the end of the diving board the following summer, fully expecting to do my usual back flips, unaware of any fear, but at the last second, I turned around and did a simple forward dive. I tried again. And again. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even bring myself to do a back dive. No matter how much I wanted to do my back flips, I couldn’t. I still can’t. It’s a weird mental thing. It’s my “fall off a horse and get back on” story. Only that time, I never got back on, and it was too late. Since then, I’ve done my best to never let that happen again. I get back on, right away.
That story happened a long time ago, and it really isn’t a big deal that I can no longer do back flips off diving boards, but that experience stayed with me in a profound way. I learned how powerful fear can be. I’ve learned that grit and determination are not always enough in overcoming fear. Since that time, I’ve often, silently, repeated the words, diving board, to myself whenever I’ve been in situations where I’ve suspected fear could take over. Those words have been helpful, but I’ve got four more words. These are powerful words, more powerful than anything else, in overcoming fear:
“God, I trust you.”
A few weeks ago I was in a car accident. Nobody was seriously injured but it was bad enough to total my car, and fear was threatening to take over. I’ve never liked driving. My daydreams often involve living downtown in a big city (the appeal is never having to drive). But for now, I’m a suburban mom who spends many hours driving my kids around. I have to deal with it, whether I like it or not. After the accident, I was thinking, diving board, as I forced myself to get back in the car and drive again. At first, it was scary, but I’ve relaxed by now, and though I still don’t enjoy driving, I can do it. There was some grit and determination involved in getting back on the road, and the words, diving board, helped- but more powerfully, @@God, I trust you, were the words that made all the difference.@@
God is in control. He is completely sovereign, perfect in love, and infinite in wisdom. He can be trusted.
We all have different fears and various ways of coping. Please know that you aren’t alone, left to overcome those fears with nothing but your own grit and determination. It’s not enough. God is real and he wants you to place your trust in him. He loves you. Say the words, “God, I trust you” and see for yourself what a difference he will make in your life.
Trusting God and letting go of fear is a topic that is close to my heart. Anxiety and worry have been a big part of my past. By the grace of God, they're not so much a part of my present. I'm learning to let go of fear as I'm growing closer to God, placing my trust in him. It's a process. I wrote a book called, Look to Jesus: How to Let Go of Worry and Trust God. It's my hope that this book will encourage others who struggle with fear to place their hope in God and trust him. This book is available on digital, paperback, and audio. You can find out more, here.