Fear & Courage
Unraveling – Lesson 13 of the “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide
Fear is healthy and natural at times. A little bit of fear will keep you alive and humble. In the same way that a little bit of electricity can keep you alive while too much of it can end your life. While not usually aware of it, fear influences us and affects our interpretations and perceptions of the possible occurrence of events. To surmount this obstacle, knowledge is primary but does not operate in isolation. We must act on this knowledge and engage in actions that rewire the brain, which in turn feeds our knowledge and the cycle of gaining and applying continues to deepen, like the root of a tree. Learn more about overcoming fear in recovery, and moving forward with courage in this lesson of the “Overcome” addiction recovery guide.
When discussing fear, we are not simply talking about phobias like coulrophobia (the fear of clowns), dendrophobia (fear of trees) or even pogonophobia (fear of beards). We are generally addressing fears such as separation, rejection, humiliation, disappointment and failure. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t briefly touch on the fear that surpassed death as the number one American fear: public speaking. I have had to speak to audiences quite frequently over the past few years and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I absolutely dread it. This fear of public speaking, though, reveals something hidden inside of us, questions about the unknown and how will we be received.
Before we dig too deep, let’s explore the physiology of fear for a moment. Fear starts in the brain, in the amygdala. This region is responsible for experiencing emotions, emotional processing and is part of the limbic system. An easy example of this would be to imagine yourself walking out in the woods and you hear a rattle. What is your first response? The most curious thing though about the amygdala is its role in memory formation. If the component of the brain that is responsible for experiencing fear also has a main role in memory formation, what does that say about the concept of fear? By all accounts, it would have to be based on an event that has occurred in the past, with a possibility of happening again in the future.
Since our main focus is recovery, we will now shift course to look at some of the fears that keep individuals in the bondage of addiction. Starting at number one and working consecutively down the list they are: the fear of not having the willpower to do it, boredom, possibility of relapse, fear of change and lastly, the fear of feeling. If fear affects your decisions, it controls you.
… through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.Hebrews 2:15B
The reason it appears that we are doing so much work on the front end of this topic is that we have a simple, two-letter promise that comes from scripture that requires our full attention. And I do not want to be providing supporting information once we get to where we are going. When speaking about this promise an initial feeling will arise, that of courage. Courage is choosing to act even though you feel fear. Courage is a resolve.
Culture of Fear
As of the time of writing this post, we have been living in a culture of popular fear for quite some time now, in America. Y2K, the Mayan Calendar, school shootings and 9/11 come to mind. However, as we age, our definition of fear changes as do the responsibilities. When we were little, depending on how your home life was, there may not have been a huge source of fear, which would usually result in trips to the emergency room due to jumping bicycles off the roof. But, if your childhood was traumatic, fear could be produced from doors slamming, heavy footsteps or hearing arguments in the other room. As we age though, the fear of the boogeyman gives way to fear of losing a job or a loved one. It may come in the form of a trip to the doctor for a routine check-up. However, one fear usually travels with us as we get older: the fear of consequences.
The word we use tonight for fear comes from a Hebrew word that is pronounced “aw-rats” and means dread. And how we either react or respond to that word is what takes its power away or reinforces it all the more. Fear can and will render you useless, if you do not approach it with courage to overcome the mental inertia required.
Courage on the other hand comes from a Hebrew word pronounced “aw-mats”, meaning to be alert, steadfastly minded and established. This word isn’t about tiptoeing on the line of being self-assured or arrogant. Its power resides in a measure of trust in God and having faith in Him and what He is capable of. Courage is a product of obedience to God and an understanding of his faithfulness and his character. We understand courage based on our understanding of His love.
Now that the framework is constructed, we have one verse and one word to focus on. The context of this verse is once again the Israelites and they have previously left Egypt. Their leader, Moses has died. After wandering about in the wilderness for forty years, they are now being commanded, by a new leader named Joshua, to go into a land that is occupied and take it for their own.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9
We could have chosen any other single word or concept to focus on for the remainder of our time; strong, courageous… However, I want to point out one word that I am almost sure has been overlooked because of our ability to allow it to go undetected. This word is a promise, the word is. The word the Lord chose to use was not maybe, sometimes, possibly, was or might be. This word is so important that I wanted to point it out in one more verse:
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.Deuteronomy 31:8
Is, is a promise. An active choice and a description of God’s character. If you are seeking after what God wants you to do, if you profess Jesus as your savior, then cling to the promise, is. If sobriety or doing without makes you sick to think about it, if making apologies or seeking to reconcile or trying to do right when no one wants to encourage you makes you want to give up, if you are scared of failure, be courageous. Fear is especially powerful when you feel alone, like you have no one to help you. Which leads us into our application…
“Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide
Application – Enlist
So, maybe courage for you is understanding you will and can get through the day without giving in to the temptations of addiction. Maybe it is choosing to raise your hand when the pastor gives an altar call. Maybe it is reaching out or simply being available to another in their time of need. It takes courage to do these things, do not let fear stand in your way of better. Enlist the help of others. You are not alone on this journey. Satan loves to separate you from the herd. Reach out for support. Accept the fact that the next chapter of your life with the confidence that God is with you.
Or you may be on the other side of the fence. God has strengthened you and called you to help others. He wants you to encourage and help others to seek Him. Be available for them, even if no one on this planet was available for you. Do not allow the fear of rejection to be an obstacle for the soul of another person. You would be surprised how many people that are active in church are afraid to invite someone else to church. Be courageous and break the complacent mold.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.1 John 4:18
The “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Addiction Recovery Guide series.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book