You might think I’m kind of nerdy when I admit the following: I have memorized the movie The Wizard of Oz by heart. I know every single song and I can literally play it in my mind as if I was watching the movie. It comes in handy when I can’t sleep. DON’T JUDGE ME!
When I was in middle school I was enrolled in a performing arts school and one of the first plays I was part of was The Wizard of Oz. The funniest part of the story is that I got casted as one of the munchkins. And honestly, since middle school, I think I only grew about two inches. I’m pretty short (4 foot and 11 inches tall). Despite being shorter than the average 24-year-old, I don’t mind when people make fun of my height… but it wasn’t always like that. I was a very insecure girl all through middle school and high school. I hated myself. Looking at myself in the mirror was torture and I just wanted to change myself into another person. When I decided to make Jesus my Lord and Savior at the age of 15, I knew that my “old” mentality had to change. However, the deep-rooted insecurity that I had struggled with for most of my youth had taken root into a very ugly and disgusting monster called “fear”.
I can’t remember when I started to fear, worry, and feel anxiety all the time. It came over me like a wave that I couldn’t manage to jump over. When God started using me to pour into other young women’s lives, it was a struggle to not feel intimidated by other leaders that were being used by God as well. I always felt inadequate, less than, and insufficient. And my reaction was to be a little “extra”. You know what I mean by “extra”. Extra nice, extra humble, extra spiritual and extra fashionable. Basically, extra FAKE! God was using me and I was allowing Him to use me, but I think He got tired of me serving Him in fear. He asked me to step down from a few of my responsibilities and during that time, God examined my heart and revealed the junk I had stored away.
In that time of self-evaluation, I came across a verse that I have read many times. Many people use this verse when they pray. Honestly, it’s one of those verses that you kind of disregard over time. But when you truly understand it’s meaning and depth, it changes the way you think and live. It reads: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
When we live in fear, it counteracts the action of “fanning into flame” our God-given gifts. It is clear that with rekindled fire and zeal for God, fear cannot be present. Fear is an extinguisher to faith and we cannot grow in the continual presence of fear. Interestingly, the word fear in this context is better translated as cowardice or the lack of bravery.
If you recall, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz wanted nothing more than to stop feeling scared. He is my favorite character in the movie. Maybe because I could identify with him. The king of the jungle was living in fear which didn’t make him much of a king. He says something in the movie that struck a chord in me, “Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!”. Living courageously (lacking fear), has the power to set us free! Courage allows us to be real and walk in our true identity. If you are a believer in Christ, your identity is that of royalty and the only thing you should be a slave to is your faith in God. Like it says in 2 Timothy, we will have power, love and self-disciple. Power to overcome feelings of intimidation and love to serve others freely as God calls us to. Most importantly, courage conditions us to live dependent on God and not our reckless emotions.
Some practical steps to be free from fear are:
1. Speak to someone you trust that can give you sound advice on the matter. Surround yourself with people who will speak words of love and life into you.
2. Be diligent in deepening your relationship with the God by attending church regularly and reading the bible. Sometimes we do this out of habit but when we learn to do it with authenticity, it makes all the difference in the world.
3. Actively remove negative thoughts from your mind. Don’t contemplate voices and thoughts that are not edifying to you. If it’s a thought that makes you feel less than, fearful and anxious it’s time to purge it.
What are some steps you have taken to overcome personal struggles in your life?