Facing Your Fears to Live Life to the Fullest

Photo by Viktor_Gladkov/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Viktor_Gladkov/iStock / Getty Images

by Megan Montgomery

Growing up,  I was always more cautious than my two adventurous brothers.  You could regularly find them tearing down a steep hill on their rollerblades while I stayed on the smaller hill and slowly took my time, careful not to build up too much momentum. When they built a homemade snow jump for sledding, I refused to try it out and while I missed out on a fun moment, I felt vindicated when their joy ride ended with a trip to the emergency room and stitches. As this happened regularly over the years, some of that caution was probably wise but not all of it. Some of it was fear.

As I started to grow into adulthood, the fear just got worse and started expanding into things I had previously been able to do with ease.  Things I used to love like acting ceased to be fun as I developed stage fright and even anxiety over public speaking. Heights, flying, confined spaces, it seemed like everything caused my heart to pound and my stress levels to go up, which sucked the enjoyment out of different activities and caused me to miss out on things just so I would not experience the fear.

It has been a long journey but I am happy to say I am back to the place where I enjoy public speaking again and I am more adventurous than I have ever been in my life.  That’s not to say there aren’t ever situations where fear tries to come in but I have learned a number of strategies over the years to help safeguard against fear.

  1. Do things afraid. It may sound counterintuitive but facing my fear and doing things even while I was scared of them was very helpful to breakthrough. Whether it was public speaking, singing karaoke, taking a trapeze class, white water rafting, or allowing myself to be vulnerable in my writing, I started saying yes to the opportunities in front of me.  Then I climbed up to the trapeze mount for the first time, I wasn’t just filled with anxiety but I was in full-fledged body shaking mode. But, as I decided to push through and just go for it, the fear started to break off of me. It didn’t always fully break off the first time I did something but as I continued to push through my fears, I experienced new levels of freedom.  What was most amazing to me is that the freedom and confidence carried through to other areas in life. Who would have known that swimming with manta rays or flying around the waters on a jet ski would help me have more courage public speaking? Or who would have thought that singing karaoke would give me the moxie to try trapeze? Somehow it’s all interconnected to me and the very act of not allowing fear to rule one area of my life helped to stop it from taking over other areas.

  2. Get lots of quiet time. In our fast-paced, digital world it’s easy to get stressed out and anxious.  I find I need quiet time with the TV off, not scrolling through my phone, in order for me to really unwind and rejuvenate.  I also rejuvenate a lot quicker in nature and even though I live in NYC, I find beaches and parks to go to on the weekends when it is nice out, even if I can only get there for a few hours.  In the winter, my relaxation time is more likely to be a bath with salts and lavender oil. No matter what the R&R looks like for you, I highly recommend some digital detox time.

  3. Get plugged into God.  During my quiet time when I am unplugged from everything, I like to plug into God.  For me that looks like is talking to God and processing things with him, and singing along to worship music. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out all fear.  God is love, so the more time I spend resting in that perfect love, the more I feel fear leave me. There are also a number of other verses that I like to spend time meditating on as it reminds me of who I am created to be and who God is.  Another one I love is “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7.) When thoughts of fear or anxiety come up, I read these verses and remind myself that is not who I am. I am a woman of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  

We all have unique gifts and strengths to offer the world and when we live our lives in fear, it holds us back from living fully. Life is too short to let fear have the upper hand. Go and do one thing today that you’ve always been afraid to do.   

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are ALL meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

 

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Megan Montgomery

Megan Montgomery is a marketer by day, writer and avid traveler by night whose home base is NYC.  She has a passion for “all things kids” since she is a big kid at heart and has been involved in international missions for 15+ years, traveling to 25 countries both for missions and personal travel. 

When God Redirects Your Life to His 'Yes!'

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by Julissa Soriano

“Cast a large net and see what returns to you.”

That was the advice that a wise friend gave to me at the beginning of this new season that was preceded by seasons of seemingly endless disappointment and pain.

After graduating college two years ago, I began searching for direction in my life. After praying about it, I felt called to do missionary work. So in October of 2016, I went on The World Race, an eleven-month missionary trip that took me to seventeen countries. Throughout the year I met incredible people from around the world and it completely changed the way I viewed life.  

But, when I returned to America I hit a wall. Actually, I hit a couple of walls. There were many roads that led to dead ends. And if I am being honest I didn’t really seek opportunities because I was easily overwhelmed by everything. It was like God was telling me that New York wasn’t where I belonged but I had no idea. Something was just off and I could not put a finger on it.

God shut down job opportunities, a relationship, living on my own, and grad school. I thought for sure all of these things would work out. They were all really good things, right? These were areas in my life I prayed for and believed in.

Every closed door taught me more about myself and my ideas about prosperity and success. I thought true prosperity was a job title, a busy schedule, a relationship status, how skinny I was, an account balance, how many thriving friendships I had, my educational level, and material possessions.

Common buzzwords at my church were, “There is more!” “More increase!” Or my favorite.  “Expansion!” Our definition of prosperity in the Western church is MORE, MORE, MORE. Ask for more, believe for more, and receive more, AMEN!!?? But what if the only thing I got was more of God and His presence? Would I be satisfied with just that? I walked away from church confused sometimes. I thought to myself, “God you are good, and I love you with all my heart. So why aren’t you doing this for me? Where is the fruit?”

After applying to graduate school and receiving a denial letter, I cried a ton. There I was yet again experiencing a loss. I had reached the end of myself. All I could do was lay on my aunt's floor and sob until I was physically exhausted.

But God continued to comfort me. Although I didn’t see Him do the works in my life that I wanted him to, He did offer me peace, unending joy, comfort, and greater intimacy with Him. I was perfectly lost in His presence. He reminded me what true prosperity was.

True prosperity is eternal life. True prosperity is what happens to your soul because that is the only thing that instead of monetary value has eternal value. Think of anything in your life that lasts forever. Exactly. Peter talks about how to receive eternal life in 2 Peter 1:3-11.

He said, "Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!" 

All that truly mattered was my relationship with Jesus.

The plan was if grad school didn’t work I would move to California. I went on a fast and one day I begged God to give me a word in the Bible. I didn’t want my move to be an emotional decision. I didn’t want to run from my problems, because I knew they would follow me wherever I go. When I opened the bible page I landed on “Whatever is on your heart, go and do it; God is with you.” (1 Chronicles 17:2) That same day I booked a one-way ticket to California, leaving on May 1.

Ending this chapter in New York has made me think about how far I’ve come since my real birthday, August 28, 2012, the day I was baptized. I think about how lost and distorted my view of God was. I thought of God as this observer calculating His love for me based on my every move. If I did wrong I would pay, if I did right He would give me good things. It sounds silly now but it’s true.

He is a God who is in the business of being patient, obedient, and steadfast. The further along in our walk with Him, the more He begins to test us so we can grow spiritually. He roots for us! Everyone always says God doesn’t give you something you can’t handle. I disagree with that. Maybe at the beginning of our walk, He gives us what we can handle. As we grow stronger, I believe He gives us things He knows we can’t handle so we can only rely on Him. God wants to flex and get all the glory.

More recently, I learned to seek God and trust Him, even more, when all my efforts fail and I feel hopeless. I learned that chaos bows down to me. Chaos serves me so that in the midst of it I can gain the character and strength to fight bigger battles. I learned that all authority belongs to my Dad, and He works everything out for me. I learned that my Dad holds a staff and a rod in His hand to pull me back to Him and ward off my enemies. My Father lovingly placed no’s in my life to redirect me to His yes.

So here’s to a new season in LA. Like Abraham with the Israelites, I have no idea what the next step is. All I know is He is sending me to LA. My responsibility now is to turn my faith into action. So I am doing all that I can with faith and trusting God with the impossible. I am glad I get to experience this new season in my life with a restored value system and the correct meaning of true prosperity. Everything else in this life is an added bonus.

I am excited to take you along on my journey!

 

Julissa Soriano earned a B.A in Journalism and has a passion for arts, fashion, beauty, travel, humanitarian work, women empowerment, and animal rights. She is currently a blogger and Associate Editor for Wit + Grace Magazine.