Walking is one of my favorite activities, and I try to get out for a daily trek through the neighborhood. A few days ago, while enjoying my morning stroll, a large German Shepard mix bolted out of nowhere snarling, snapping and growling. This dog meant business!
I froze in fear as I watched that menacing dog approach, his teeth bared in a low, mean growl. It appeared he had every intention of attacking me. I looked around for his owner, but the street was completely deserted.
Suddenly, something akin to indignation rose up in me. I thought, “This is my neighborhood! Who do you think you are?” I just couldn’t believe the audacity of that stupid, ugly dog, to think he was going to bite me on my street, in my neighborhood!
I charged toward him a step or two and yelled, “BACK OFF!” I meant it, and the dog knew I meant it. Sullenly he backed off a few steps and stopped growling, letting me pass without incident.
This was a real victory for me, since I was bitten several times as a child by neighborhood dogs. For many years my fear of dogs accompanied me on my walks. Even if I came upon a friendly tail-wagging dog, my heart would start to pound and I would literally have to stop myself from running home at full speed (now how would that look – a grown women running in frenzied terror from a friendly, galloping Golden Retriever?)
Though I experienced some relief from my terror in the past few years, it was the incident with the German Shepard that set me totally free. It took me getting outraged at that stupid, ugly dog (and at my stupid, ugly fears) to experience victory.
This incident started me thinking about other fears I still need to conquer. I believe God has placed courage in each one of us – but it’s up to each individual to “unearth” it and put it into action. And just like that stupid, ugly dog thought he would take some of my territory for his own, I wonder what other fears in my life have taken over territory that belongs to me?
Fear is a bully that preys on the wounded. Fear will take a past event from your life that caused trauma, hurt, injury, or wounding and capitalize on it until the fear is so blown out of proportion that it doesn’t even resemble the initial event.
If fear is casting dark shadows over your life, perhaps it’s time to put your foot down and say, “Enough!” Allow the things you fear to be the catalyst that drives you deeper into your relationship with God. He is the source of all courage and bravery, and we would all benefit by spending time in his presence every day. When we build our spirits through relationship with God, we are fortified to face those lying fears and say with confidence, BACK OFF!
Paula Friedrichsen has been speaking at women’s retreats and church conferences regionally, as well as nationally, for years. She is a member of Church on the Mountain in Crowley Lake, California, where she serves as Communications Coordinator.
Paula began writing professionally in 2004, and saw her first book, The Man You Always Wanted is the One You Already Have, (Multnomah, 2007). She also writes magazine and newspaper articles, as well as book reviews.
The heartbeat of Paula’s ministry is to encourage believers in a deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ. Whether she’s talking about marriage, joy, abundant life, or even how to thrive in today’s faltering economy—the sub-theme of every message is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
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