HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY YOUR FEARS AND ANXIETIES?
Anytime you love or want something deeply, you will notice fear and anxieties because you might not get them. And anytime you can’t control the fate of those things you want or love, you will notice fears and anxieties because you might lose them. Today, we’re gonna help you identify lurking fears so you can expose them and let Jesus speak to them and begin the journey of living a fearless life n Christ.
Phobias: Fears can create a phobiac! That’s what I call someone who has phobias. Everything is a crisis and danger is all around. You ever met some like that? You can’t do anything. You get in your car and they’re like, “Wait, what if your handle is connected to a trigger that sets off a bomb! Let’s walk!”
If you were ever to do a quick study on all the different phobias human beings have, you will likely be shocked as I was as to all the different phobias that have been created due to humanity’s perennial fear problem. Here’s a list of few of the phobias that I found humorous enough to post:
Alektorophobia- Fear of chickens.
Alliumphobia- Fear of garlic.
Anglophobia- Fear of England or English culture or people.
Anthrophobia – Fear of flowers.
Chaetophobia- Fear of hair.
Barophobia- Fear of gravity.
Ovianphobia- Fear of sheep.
Homilophobia- Fear of sermons.
Hamartophobia- Fear of sinning.
There’s even a really extreme phobia Ed Welch discovered called arachibutyrophobia: the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. You think about anything long enough, and you could have a phobia about anything; don’t try it at home!
Just thought we’d add a little humor to tonight’s intense sermon to loosen everyone up. We need not live in this kind of fear and we were not created to utilize fear in this manner. This is where the whole anxiety topic arises.
Dreams: You ever consider looking to your actual dreams and nightmares as a gauge to determine what you’re afraid of? Do you have any fear and anxiety dreams? Many of us have dreams where we are either running from something, pursuing something we can’t get, being unprepared in front of a crowd, feeling overwhelmed or being out of control. Some crazy people actually have dreams where they are unprepared for something, everyone’s laughing at them and they look down and realize they aren’t wearing anything. Dreams reveal a lot about our emotions.
What are your dreams about? The content may be fiction and unrealistic, but look more for the overall tone of your emotions with in the dream. If you’re running from something, then you’re “fearful”. If you’re unprepared and naked, then you’re “anxious” about something. If you’re overwhelmed and spinning too many plates, then you’re feeling “pressured” or stressed out”. Pay attention to your dreams.
Physical Clues: Our bodies are always looking to our emotions to figure out how to respond. Our bodies are like little kids who trip and fall and then they look at their parent to see how they react. If the parent freaks out, then the kids freaks out and vise versa. At the first hint of a threat, our bodies speak to us: heart palpitations, sweaty palms, perspirations, tension headaches, clenched jaws, impotence, rapid breathing, loss of appetite, problems sleeping, high blood pressure and on and on the list could go. Our bodies are always telling us what our minds are doing and thinking.
The number one category of prescription medication in the U.S.: antidepressants. The number one over the counter medication in the U.S.: sleeping pills. People are freaked out and overwhelmed and cannot handle life. And medication is not the answer.
Here’s why all these physical symptoms occur: When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. Then your heart pounds faster, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure rises, your breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. Your adrenal glands are working! These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, they speed up your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flight from the danger at hand.
But anxiety causes our bodies to remain at these unhealthy levels for prolonged periods of time and this is when we destroy ourselves, not just emotionally, but also physically. Our bodies shut down and stop working and then we drink an energy drink or 15 cups of coffee a day just to keep up. This all breaks your body down and leaves you vulnerable to all these complications and you ultimately take years off of your life….years!
Just so you know, this is your pastor. I am that guy who lives at these levels and it has been a constant journey for me to let Jesus take me down from these intense, driven emotions. I stress out or freak out to the point where my heart beats from the bottom up instead of the top down, I have digestive problems and too many headaches.
It takes me hours sometimes to fall asleep because I’m wound up so much that my mind won’t stop.
Stress: All these symptoms that your body is screaming to you, are saying, “STOP!!! YOU’RE STRESSED!!! WE NEED A REST!!!” Welch says, “Stress usually means there is too much to do in too little of time, or the things we have to do are beyond our competencies…. and if you listen to your stress long enough, you will probably detect the theme of control. Stress is saying that life is teetering on the brink, right at the farthest reaches of your ability to maintain some control.”
Now answer these question: What would happen if you just really lost all control? You don’t know and you don’t want to know because stress is telling you that “life is risky.”
Busy and driven: This is a perennial problem in America. Go, go, go! More, more, more! Better, better, better! Younger, younger, younger! Different, different, different! There is no end to what the world asks of us. This is why 1 John 2:15,17 says: “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world… 17 the world is passing away along with its desires…”
Welch recalls that Blaise Pascal (a 17th century philosopher) was one of the first to suggest that: “Personal character can be assessed by how people handle rest and solitude.” What are you like when you’re alone, in solitude? What are you avoiding? What is it about quiet places that scare you? What keeps you from sitting still?
Depression: Drivenness and depression have a lot in common, because most of the time it’s the driven person who is taking on the world, becoming overwhelmed and their body and minds can’t handle the world, so they check out. Listen closely to depression, and you will likely find fear and anxiety. “I don’t have what it takes. I can’t handle the despair. I am afraid of not keeping up. I can’t sleep. I am going to be exposed for who I really am if I fail.” Welch says that “underneath that emotional pain is terror.”
Depression is almost never sought. Instead it seeks you out and then it throws you into a dark pit of despair and hopelessness. The depressed person who doesn’t want to get out of bed most likely doesn’t want to face the dangerous and uncontrollable world out their. And if they do face it, they could face failure, rejection, or even death. So depression chooses to paralyze you.
Or depression can drive you to do anything just to feel better:
Shopping sprees: “I’m depressed. I want to feel better. I’m going to the mall.”
Over eating: “I’m depressed, I’m gonna eat until I feel better.”
Alcohol, pornography, gambling, over working, taking more trips, excessive checking of your facebook account, more, more, more until you feel better….
Depression can increase when choices increase: More choices, more chances of you missing out or picking the wrong thing: “All these restaurants! What if the wait is too long? What if my food is cold? What if it ends up being too expensive? What if I can’t decide on what to get? I like 3 different plates!! Oh no!! This is killing me!! There’s too many options!!!” More freedoms $$, more fears!
Anger: Anger says: “You’re wrong, I’m right!” “I want that! Give it to me or else!” “You have no right to do that!” “I’m gonna make you pay for that!” You want something, and you might not get it. Now, if you are tough and not a man of fear, you resort to anger because heaven forbid you admit your fear of losing an idol or not getting it. Thus you get angry. James speaks directly to this kind of fear:
James 4:1-2 says: 1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
You want power, control, money, sex, love, better food… and you can’t get it so you get angry! Or if you do get it, it is constantly being threatened to be taken, so you get angry when threats come and will even kill others to keep what you have or get what you want.
In the last post, we will unpack what fear reveals and what Jesus has to say about our fears and anxieties.