Following Jesus When We’re Too Scared to Take Another Step Forward

Following Jesus When we're Too Scared to Take Another Step Forward | Gospel Girls

For I hold you by your right hand—
I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
– Isaiah 41:13 (NLT)

I remember when I first started to feel truly free. It was in early 2010 right after two years of treatment for three diseases I never wanted. But first let me tell you how I got there. Because it was right at the tipping point into health that my nervous system went haywire and I had the worst anxiety I’ve ever had.

Physiologically this makes sense. Our bodies have two systems that keep everything in check: our hormones and our nerves. Anytime you go through a major illness, they’re bound to get caught in the cross-hairs, and we’re bound to feel the shock waves through our entire system. Anxiety is an incredibly common result of having just waged war against disease. But none of that science matters when you’re the one feeling the impact.  All I knew was that I was suddenly scared to death of things that never scared me before, and for a long time never leaving my house again sounded like a really good idea.

It was all complicated by the embarrassing fact that – if you’ll let me share this with you – I had to pee nearly every 20 minutes, another side effect of everything else that was going on inside of me. Add all of that together, and even a trip to my corner grocery store felt like an emotional climb up Mount Everest.

Over the months I came up with all kinds of routines and habits that helped me hide the fear and minimize any risk of freak out. On the outside I managed to hold it together while on the inside, I was a nervous wreck crying a million silent prayers to God and begging Him to get me through the moment. So of course it didn’t matter how much better I was getting physically. Mentally I felt worse than ever before.

I credit Joyce Meyer’s 21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness with giving me the courage to finally confront the fears and move from anxiety to freedom. But of course it wasn’t her book that helped me so much as it was what was inside the book: a reminder that I could trust the Lord of peace. That Jesus had died to set me free, and that included freedom from what was quickly becoming crippling anxiety.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – John 8:36 (NLT)

One of the hardest parts of the path that Jesus carved for me was the part that led through my fears and into freedom. It was the part where I had to leave my apartment when everything in me screamed “don’t go!” It was the part where I had to stand in line at the grocery store, all the way to the checkout counter, without dropping my basket and running home. And it was the part where I had to stand firm in the middle of my biggest anxieties, gripping Jesus’ hand for dear life, praying like a madwoman inside my head, and choosing to believe the promises we have in verses like the ones above, sometimes wielding them like a sword against any of the doubts and fears that crept into my mind.

It wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t always perfect. There were times when I couldn’t get myself to leave the apartment, and there were times when I didn’t make it all the way through the check out line without having to step out for air and collect myself. But each time I was reminded that Jesus wasn’t any less proud of me on those days than on the ones on which I succeeded in stepping out and confronting my fears. I accepted His grace and picked myself back up the next day to try again.

And then one day, as weird as it sounds, I wasn’t as scared anymore. I’d spent months memorizing God’s word and making it the very air I breathed day in and day out just to survive. And suddenly, I started to feel free.

He sent out his word and healed them,
snatching them from the door of death.

– Psalm 107:20 (NLT)

It was like that moment in spring after an especially harsh winter, when we finally feel the first warm breeze and see the first flowers start to push their way out of the soil and reach toward the sun. For years everything had felt dead and I’d wondered if that moment would ever come, but now there was new life and it was better than I could ever have imagined.

Each step got easier and easier, and emotionally I felt like I was shedding a thousand heavy layers that had previously weighed me down. Before I knew it, I was humming “I Am Free” while walking down the street, while washing dishes, while riding the train. My husband – who was at the time my boyfriend – would look at me and ask, “Why are you singing that song to yourself so often lately?” and I would smile knowing what Jesus had done.

He’d walked me through the dead of winter and set me free into spring. He’d given me new life.

What about you? Have you ever had to confront some of your biggest fears? Is there a verse that helps you cling to God’s faithfulness when it’s too much to handle on your own?

Linking up with the always amazing Faith Jam community at Bonnie Gray’s Faith Barista.

Original photo of Purple Spring Flowers by George Hodan

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16 comments

  1. Wow, Kim that is exactly what I am going through right now. And Jesus has promised me freedom. Reading this is just a confirmation of what is on the way for me. Thank you for being open and vulnerable and sharing.

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    1. Karyn, I do believe He’s promised you freedom, too! I was thinking of you last night and how similar our experiences have been. The last part of the transition from illness to health kind of feels like that point when we have to “step into the Jordan” so to speak to cross from wilderness to Promise Land. I thought it would be just this easy wake up one day and be 100% better, but it was a lot more of a healing process than I expected! Jesus is truly with you every step of the way though and is totally going to get you there. I’m praying for you!

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  2. Kim, Thanks for being willing to share your story honestly. We need more of this is the Christian community – so we can help each other on our spiritual walks through this life. I had a great fear of being abandoned, stemming from my parents’ divorce. And so I wouldn’t get close to people as I grew up. It was too risky. However, God eventually had to show me that I had walls up between Him and I because of this fear. And He showed me those fears and walls by doing exactly what I feared – by making me feel abandoned by Him. It was only by going through it – going back to the pain – that He could help me heal it. I had to face it to overcome it, with His gracious help. Keep up the great posts! And God bless!

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    1. Heather, I’m so glad you’ve been visiting and sharing how similar our stories are. It’s so true – facing the fear is so scary, but when we do that He can heal us. I’m still growing in that area, but the experience I share here was a big one for me. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m looking forward to reading your book online!

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  3. kim,
    your piece vibrated with as much honesty as it did faith and its results! i loved the image of you carrying a tune while at work; a boyfriend who walked with you to a commitment of a lifetime and faith that got results! GOOD for you! And my favorite line you wrote which became my epiphany? “…Jesus wasn’t any less proud of me on those days than on the ones on which I succeeded in stepping out and confronting my fears.” SO GOOD. you refreshed my memory with an, “it’s ok to mess up and forgo the guilt.” your piece reminded me i get to watch His warm Spring of new life restore and renew me! So excited. Thank you!
    i hope you take a peek at my post to see what I am standing on this spring. http://stillprocessing2013.blogspot.com/2013/03/spring_21.html

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    1. You know, I was so nervous to share this that I almost didn’t publish it. I’m glad that the story of how Jesus walked me through this is speaking to you, because it reminds me it’s not about what happened to me it’s about what He did in that situation. He is so good. I will absolutely be stopping by and getting to know you more! Thank you for visiting!! 🙂

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  4. Your transparency here today is reaching others, Kim! This is a wonderful testimony of Gods healing power. I needed this today so much. A verse that helps me a great deal lately s Gal. 5:1 ” It is for freedom that Christ set you free. Stand firm. Then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Love and hugs….

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    1. Renee, THANK YOU for sharing that verse! It really speaks to me, and I hope to commit it to memory. I’m so glad that the story is a testimony of what He can do. If he can pick someone like me up out of the pit and give me new life, anything is possible. 🙂

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  5. I can totally relate to your story. I especially like the memorizing God’s word until it becomes the very air that you breathe. That is true freedom! Thanks for sharing. visiting from Faith Jam Barista….Blessings, Rachael @ Inking the Heart

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  6. Saw you link up over at Hand Me Down Grace and can I just say… beautiful… really, really beautiful. I am learning this year that the grace of the cross and Jesus holding my hand doesn’t make the bad days disappear – but it does help me get through them… with Him right. By. My. Side.

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