It is not only life’s the major crises which induce fear. The little day to day things do so as well. In such situations we can either go into denial, by burying whatever it is that’s making us anxious or fearful ‘under the carpet’, so to speak, or blame ourselves for worrying too much, or for not knowing how to deal with whatever, or whoever, is making us afraid. Neither of these strategies is particularly helpful for overcoming fear. But there is a better way. Take, for example, the impending visit of a difficult relative. The event itself may be Thanksgiving or Christmas, both not all that far away now. Here is one way of keeping fear of a particular person within manageable limits:
Find a space, and a time, when you can be sure of not being disturbed. Sit quietly. Let your breathing and your thoughts slow down. Be in the presence of Christ. Allow him to see the fear by perhaps laying before him all the possible scenarios which you fear may occur in regard to this particular person over the coming holiday period. Let Christ see them and ask him to take control of them – in other words, to own them. Then look calmly at these scenarios, and realise that none of them has happened yet. One of the ways in which we try to deal with fear is by anticipating difficult or challenging situations. This already puts us in a defensive, and therefore weak, position. Being defensive, and having to protect oneself, makes it difficult to engage with the other person. For one thing, it’s hard to pick up on their efforts to understand us better, or be more constructive in their way of dealing with us. They may be just as anxious and afraid of us as we are of them.
So allow the anxiety to remain with Jesus and know yourself to be completely free in regard to this person. Know yourself as valued, loved and worthy. From this strong place, you may suddenly feel compassion for the difficult person. Pray for them out of this compassion. Start doing this now, before the dreaded visit takes place. Bring yourself back to the safe place you are in the company of Jesus. Surrender the fear to him (this is something you will have to do every time the fear returns), and ask instead for the grace not to be afraid to love them.