From time to time, I love to introduce you to some of my wonderful friends who are also passion about intentionally living for Jesus. Tracie Miles is one of those gals. She’s a fellow writer over at Proverbs 31 Ministries, best selling author of a passel of books, and a woman who has walked through the fire and come out stronger than ever. I’ll let her tell you the rest…
Life had been hard for many, many months. My marriage of twenty-five years had abruptly ended due to circumstances beyond my control, and overpowering negative emotions seemed to be running my life. The day finally came when I was sick and tired of feeling sad and spent, and I knew I needed to retake control of my thoughts. I was tired of letting my feelings boss me around, and I longed to break free from their stronghold over my mind and my life, but also my peace, joy and happiness. I could either control my mind, or it would continue to control me.
I decided to spend some time in prayer, and bowed my head. I began asking God to show me what I needed to let go of – mentally and emotionally – and to equip me spiritually to break free from the negative thoughts consuming my heart and mind. God soon helped me realize that I had been struggling with many negative mental strongholds, but there was that had a life-robbing one chokehold on my peace.
Suffocating fears of what the present day, and the future, might hold would crush my spirit every morning before I even got out of bed, and would rob me of sleep at night. Fears of how my children were feeling and coping. Countless fears that would always morph in my mind the more I thought about them, forcing me into thinking about all the “what-ifs”. Nine times out of ten my what-ifs were followed up with fear inducing thoughts of worse-case-scenario theories that would pull me deeper into sadness, even if they weren’t entirely rational.
So, in my prayer time that morning, as God opened my eyes to the invisible enemy I had been fighting – the fears in my thoughts – I committed to working on my attitude and to surrendering all the fears that had been building up in my head for months.
I got out my journal and began to write down my fears one by one and to my surprise, within minutes, I had written out thirty-three fears that had slid off the tip of my pencil with ease. Thirty. Three. Paralyzing. Fears. Have mercy. I didn’t realize until that very moment how my fears had multiplied or how much they were damaging my attitude, much less that they had such a strong power over my thoughts, emotions and perspectives.
Immediately, I surrendered those fears and all the accompanying emotions to God in prayer. I wanted to break free from fear, and grab onto hope instead. I committed to God and myself to take a stand against letting them slip back into my subconscious. The difference that prayer of surrender made in my outlook and my life going forward amazed even me. Slowly, yet assuredly, as I intentionally captured fearful thoughts before they crushed by spirit or threatened my peace, my attitude began to change. I invited God to help me transform my thoughts, and that is exactly what He did.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “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.” (ESV) These words were primarily directed to the Jews who had been exiled during their difficult captivity in Babylon. God was reminding them they were His, and therefore, had nothing to fear. We are also His. Therefore, we have nothing to fear.
God’s promise to be with His beloveds, to strengthen those who need strength and to uphold with His own mighty righteous hand, is as valid for us today as it was for Jews back then. We won’t always be protected from things that eilicit fear in our hearts, but we can always surrender those fears to God and trust that not only will He will never leave our side, but He is more than capable of handling whatever it is that is filling our hearts and minds with fear.
Although most of my fear-induced emotions and feelings that fretful night were valid, I had allowed them to take over my mind and, in turn, take over my life and my happiness, in addition to robbing me of much needed sleep and rest.
Maybe today you are struggling with fear regarding a difficult circumstance in your own life. Maybe you’ve received a concerning health diagnosis, a termination at work, or are facing living life without someone you once held dear. Maybe the bank account is low, the refrigerator is empty, and the bills are due, and you have no idea where money is going to come from. All valid fears that elicit valid emotions. Yet regardless of the scary unknowns in your life which seem large and looming, many of which you feel inadequate to handle, there is great news, my friend.
As believers, we all have the power of the Holy Spirit within us to break down the stronghold of fear and grab hold of the peace God offers. We can all learn to submit our fears to God if we choose to put our trust in Him, instead of tossing and turning every night under the weight of worry.
How wonderful would life be without the presence of fear? How much happier would you feel if you no longer had to carry the burden of worry? That type of living is possible, as we learn to focus on faith instead of fear. We can control our mind, or it will control us.
To win a free copy of Tracie’s book, Unsinkable Faith, leave a comment and tell me one way you focus on faith rather than fear. We’ll randomly pick one comment and send a FREE copy of Tracie’s new book and study guide.
For many people, remaining optimistic and feeling positive about themselves and their lives is a constant battle — especially when circumstances are difficult and life is hard. For others, negativity is something that only sneaks up from time to time, yet still wreaks havoc in their hearts. Regardless of the root causes, once pessimistic thoughts permeate our minds, our feelings and emotions begin to control us instead of us controlling them. Eventually it doesn’t seem possible to stay positive, happy, and full of joy, and negative thought patterns shake our faith, causing us to sink emotionally, mentally, and spiritually over time. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Despite what storms roll in, hearts anchored in God don’t sink. When we change the way we think, we can change the way we feel and live, even if our circumstances remain the same. Intentionally embracing the opportunity to experience a transformed heart and a renewed mind opens the door for a changed life, because a positive mind will always lead to a more positive life.