Let’s face it, everyone is afraid of something, maybe it’s a really big thing or something you’d never admit to in public. But how do you face your fears? How do you confront the thing that you’ve been hiding from for who knows how long?
First, let me say, I totally understand how you feel. Fear has a way of sneaking into your life and taking over. It starts with one little thing and then pretty soon, you’re hiding from shadows. One of the things I do when anxious thoughts want to overcome me is to remind myself that God did not give me a spirit of fear but of power (2 Timothy 1:7). He also gave me a sound mind which means I have all the resources I need to overcome my fear.
But I always love when I get ideas on how to overcome fear from a biblical perspective. I want to share five of those tips that I got from reading Befriending Your Monsters.
What Does It Mean to Face Your Fears?
So how exactly do you go about facing your fears? Okay, I’m not going to lie to you, facing your fear is hard. It means you have to identify the thing that scares you and do it. Now, let’s put some context into that statement…if you’re afraid of snakes I’m not telling you to go looking for a snake so that you can pet it or something.
But it does mean you need to figure out why snakes scare you. Did you have a traumatic experience that’s somehow linked to snakes? How can you resolve that issue so you can conquer that fear?
Maybe the thing you’re afraid of is more internal, like speaking in public. Don’t go and sign up to be the keynote speaker at an event, but maybe you could volunteer to do the Scripture reading at church. The thing is to slowly introduce yourself to the thing that scares you because a lot of times, it’s harder in your head.
Our imagination can make things huge and scary when in fact they are simply unknown or new to us. Facing your fear means that you make a choice to look at the thing that scares you and face it head-on.
Befriending Your Monsters Review
What is preventing you from stepping into your true identity? Why aren’t you living the life God created you for? It may be that you’ve given into the monsters that want to ruin your life.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I almost didn’t choose this book for review because it reminded me of the song by Rihanna and there’s something about the message in that song that doesn’t sit well with me.
Thank God I ignored my misgivings and decided to read this book. The monsters that Luke Norsworthy talks about are not the fearful Jaws or Godzilla as you may think. Instead, he talks about the sneaky things in our lives that can snatch us away from God’s best for us. Things like comparison, fear, and a desire for more. How many of us can honestly say we’ve never wanted more than we already had? Or compared ourselves–or been compared–to someone else? How many people can claim that they’re not afraid of anything and mean it? I bet not many.
Befriending Your Monsters is an invitation to look at the things that obscure your identity in Christ.
Know God–we’re going to define ourselves according to a standard. Either we’re going to use the world’s or we’re going to use God’s. The best way to find truth is to learn more about the character of God. Befriending Your Monsters encourages you to do that. Explore God’s character so that you have the ability to identify the things that are not of Him–the things that would otherwise draw you into the darkness and away from the truth.
Know yourself–we learn about ourselves only in relation to our knowledge of God. Spend some time in the presence of God so that you can know who you are in Christ.
Run your race– everyone has a specific purpose that God wants them to accomplish on earth. It’s impossible to meet that purpose if you’re too busy comparing yourself to other people and trying to mimic their behavior. Our path is unique and we need to focus on doing what we need to do to finish the work of the gospel.
The author spent a lot of time uncovering the monsters but he didn’t really show you how to befriend them. Still, I enjoyed this book as it gave me a new way of looking at the things that happen in my life. I can look to Jesus instead of leaning into the cravings for more of this world.
I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publishers through the Baker Books Bloggers program; a positive review was not required.
About Befriending Your Monsters: Facing the Darkness of Your Fears to Experience the Light
Monsters aren’t real. As reasonable adults, we know this. But we also know that, while fake, the monsters of fairy tales, movies, and Netflix series embody our very real fears. Large, powerful beings that hunt us in the dark make us feel small, weak, vulnerable.
When characters in these stories run away, they temporarily feel safe, but it’s not until the monster is faced head-on that the story can have a happy ending–and, more importantly, the hero can become all he or she was created to be.
The same is true of the monsters of the spiritual life. The monsters of comparison (I am what others say about me), more (I am what I have), and success (I am what I do) are powerful enemies of a healthy spiritual life. But ignoring them solves nothing.
Pastor and speaker Luke Norsworthy wants you to face your monsters, get to know them, and discover how they are inviting you into a deeper understanding of yourself and a more intimate connection with God.
You’ll never completely eradicate your fears, but if you befriend them, they can lead you into becoming God’s intention for you. Get your copy of Befriending Your Monsters.
About Luke Norsworthy
Luke Norsworthy (MDiv, Abilene Christian University), his wife, Lindsay, and their three daughters live in Austin, Texas, where he is the senior minister of the 1,500-member Westover Hills Church of Christ.
A frequent speaker at universities, retreats, and conferences, he is the host of the popular Newsworthy with Norsworthy podcast on which he has rubbed shoulders with some of the brightest and most prominent voices in theology and spirituality. Luke is also the author of God over Good.
What Does God Say About Fear?
One of the things you’ll notice about the story of Creation is that fear was not something that existed in God’s perfect world. For the first two chapters of Genesis, everything is perfect. But in chapter 3, something changed. After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they experienced two new emotions: shame and fear.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself (Genesis 3:7-10 KJV).
Until that moment that many of us wish had never happened, humanity had no idea they were naked and had no desire to cover themselves. They also didn’t feel the need to hide from God because of fear. But the beautiful thing about God is that the minute humanity sinned, He started reminding us not to be afraid.
There are so many verses telling not to be afraid or anxious and, whenever God or one of His messengers appeared to someone, one of the first things they offered was a reassurance not to be afraid.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3 ESV).
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).
“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 ESV).
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27 ESV).
God wants us to face our fears. He wants us to live our best lives–lives where we are focused on Him and living out our purpose.God wants us to face our fears to live our best lives--lives where we are focused on Him and living out our purpose. #faceyourfears #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet
How to Face Your Fears Head-on
If you want to face your fears head-on, it will take courage. It will take a determination to take on the thing that scares you knowing that God has not left you alone. You are able to do all things through Christ because He strengthens you. There were a lot of takeaways from Befriending Your Monsters, but these five go a long way towards helping you to face your fears.
1. Identify what you’re really afraid of.
It seems easy, doesn’t it? But what if you’re afraid of something that seems simple, like being alone in the dark? According to the premise set up in this book, the fear you name is a representation of your real fear.
“…monsters act as proxies for what truly terrifies us by putting flesh, fur, and fangs on our finitude, our weaknesses, and our limitation.”
But maybe your question is, “How do I know my fears?” The first step is to identify the fears you can name. Make a list. Think about when you first noticed that fear. Was it triggered by something? What does that fear keep you from accomplishing? Name your fear so you can start to face it.
2. Recognize that you can’t grow without challenges and difficult situations.
No one likes to experience hard things. I certainly don’t. But it is true that we grow through difficulties. We become stronger, learn more about ourselves, and draw closer to God; we learn more about His character and His plans for our life.
Our character can’t be formed, our resilience can’t be strengthened, our central values can’t be defined, and our truest self can’t emerge unless we go into the darkness.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ESV).
3. Who do you want to be in the next five years?
Fears can transform us. If we face our fears, we become a different person than if we run from them or give them power over our lives. So ask yourself:
…in five years, whom would the power of your fears, anxieties, obsessions, and insecurities turn you into?
Do you like the person you would become if you gave full rein to your fears? Do you want to be that person? At this point, you have a choice: will you allow fear to win? Or, will you decide to look your fear in the eye and make a decision to change your future?
4. What is your fear revealing about your character?
Fear reveals something about our character. It indicates the way the enemy can manipulate us. Let’s face it, all of us reveal things about ourselves by little things we do every day. The devil, our enemy, watches us and is able to identify these things that he can use to entice us away from our identity in Christ.
If we’re going to reinforce these entry points into our hearts and mind, we have to learn what triggers our fears. How does your fear reveal your need for a Savior? Do you need more patience? More faith? When we identify what our fears say about us, we can go to God and ask Him to help us. We can lean on Him knowing He has the ability to save.
5. Identify God’s will for your life
What does God want you to do with your life? Let me quantify this question a bit. The thing that God is asking you to do may not be your forever thing. It may not be related to your career or even something He wants you to do long-term. It may simply be the thing He has asked you to do next.
Okay, I can almost hear you struggling with that thought so let me put it into context. When God called Noah in Genesis 6, He basically gave him a single task to carry out. Granted, this task had a number of steps and would unfold over a number of years, but God basically told Noah:
- build a boat
- save some animals
- save your family.
That was the task at hand and what God wanted Noah to focus on. After The Flood, Noah had to find new things to do with himself because the task God had given him was complete.
Maybe if God had given Noah more details in the beginning, he would have been paralyzed by fear and nothing would have been accomplished. So, back to you, what is the next thing God wants you to accomplish? It could be something as simple as learning how to be grateful.
…sometimes we learn to leave a box unopened, a drink unconsumed, and an experience untapped because what our Creator wills for us isn’t the acquisition of another deposit but the development of a grateful disposition.
Why Facing Your Fears is Good
Many of us are familiar with the “fight or flight” theory–either your fear will trigger the fighter in you or it will cause you to run away. Sometimes, running is the right reaction as that action may save your life. But in light of the great controversy, running away from our fears is exactly what the enemy wants.
In his discourse on the armor of God, Paul tells us three times to stand against the enemy if we are to win the spiritual war we’re engaged in:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (Ephesians 6:10-17 NKJV, emphasis added).
While this isn’t a teaching on the armour of God, we have to understand that the enemy will use our fears to cripple us in such a way that we lose sight of who we are in Christ. So much so, that we forget what God has called us to do. When we face our fears, we reclaim our identity in Christ. We tell the enemy that we are not going to accept what he says about us but will instead choose to believe what God says.
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