How to Cure Your Fear of the Future

How do we live without fear of the future? We can be confident in our future as we take the next step of obedience. Via http://holleygerth.com

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She is clothed with strength and dignity;

    she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25

I catch a few moments of a news program featuring guests who are talking about the future. One predicts financial doom. Another shares a new medical condition that’s sure to wreak havoc on lives. The next encourages viewers to stockpile because you never know when the next natural disaster may strike. By the time the show is done, I’m ready to hide in my closet and never come out.

Yes, I believe in being wise about the future as well as what’s happening in our world. But there is a difference between wisdom and fear. That’s especially important to note as a new year has just begun.

So how do we live without fear of the future?

The ultimate God-sized dreams girl shows us how in the well-known Proverbs 31 chapter.

Here are a few of the God-sized dreams she pursued . . .

Being a wife of noble character

Real estate investing

Running a vineyard

Making a difference in the lives of the poor

Having a family who’s respected in the community

Living a beautiful life

Building a profitable business

Gaining wisdom

Scripture tells us, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks” (Prov. 31:17). This woman has a life full of verbs. She brings, selects, works, gets up, provides, considers, plants, sees, holds, grasps, extends, makes, sells, supplies, speaks, watches, and fears the Lord. While her virtues are often praised, it’s clear that all of them are more than simply beliefs. She’s a woman of action. Even in the small things, she’s always taking the next step.

When you are always taking the next step of obedience, fear of the future diminishes.

The only way to cure fear of the future is to be faithful with what’s been entrusted to you today—and to actually do it. Most of our fears are based on fantasy, “What if I release this book and no one wants it?” “What if I go to that get together to build relationships and no one wants to talk to me?” “What if I take this next step and it doesn’t work out the way I want?” As long as we stay in that stage, fear can reign because there’s no reality to conflict with our perception of what will happen.

Faith trumps fear not by simply wishing it away but by action. Many times when God says to His people, “Do not fear,” it is followed by some kind of specific instruction. He’s reassuring them and then showing them what they will need to do to replace that fear with faith.

In the life of the Proverbs 31 woman, we see this in two specific ways: strength and dignity. She is “clothed with strength and dignity”; therefore, she can laugh at the days to come.

Strength conveys that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to see God’s purposes for her life fulfilled. She doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.

Dignity describes her character—how she conducts herself as she takes action.

Doing what you need to do right now and becoming who God wants you to be a little more each day are two of the best ways to face the future without fear.

I imagine the future trying to taunt the Proverbs 31 woman by telling her that she doesn’t have what it takes, that God’s plans for her will never unfold, that she is getting older by the minute. Her response? Laughter. “You silly future,” she might say, “I’m too busy to worry about you. I’m living what God has for me today—and I will do the same tomorrow too.”

We can join her as women who are confident our future is in God’s hands. And that means we can focus on what He has for our hands to do right here and now.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

 

Enjoy more encouragement like this: You’re Made for a God-sized Dream

Books by Holley Gerth
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How Do You Know if a Desire or Dream is Really from God?

How do you know if a desire or dream is really from God? These 10 questions will help when making a decision! Read more at http://holleygerth.com/

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Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. {Romans 12:2 NIV}

It’s the time of year for dreaming and deciding. 

An idea comes to mind. A longing appears in your heart. A hope finds its way into your conversations. How do you really know if it’s from God?

First of all, that’s a beautiful question to ask. Most people move ahead in their lives without pausing to ask what God wants. And here you are desiring to know—truly know—if this is what He has for you before you take another step. That alone is pleasing to Him.

And I don’t believe He wants to keep us guessing. But He also doesn’t usually tell us outright what we are to do. After all, His highest goal for our journey with Him is an intimate relationship, and ordering us around would make us more like robots than His beloved people. Usually, we discover what He wants us to do as we go.

In Romans 12:2 above, Paul tells us we are to “test and approve” God’s will. In other words, we’ve gotta try stuff. We don’t usually like that approach. It’s scary. We might mess up. We could get it wrong. And yet that is the only way for us to really know God’s will—by experiencing it.

The precursor to that process is to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” {Rom. 12:2}. In other words, to be committed to seeing our lives from God’s perspective. We do that first by being in His Word on a regular basis. Even if it doesn’t have specific instructions for our situations, God can use His Spirit to illuminate what we need to see. The Bible is not a static text but rather is “alive and active” so God can use it to show us what we need for our daily lives.

We can also ask ourselves a series of questions that help us determine whether or not this dream or opportunity is likely to be from God. These are ten questions I’ve found to be helpful when evaluating a decision or dream:

10 Questions to Ask Before Making a Decision

  1. Does this opportunity fit with my strengths?
  2. Does this fit with my skills?
  3. Have my life experiences prepared me for it?
  4. What do the people I trust most say about it?
  5. Do I feel an inner tug or “leading” from God to do it?
  6. Does the opportunity line up with Scripture and what I understand to be God’s purpose for me?
  7. Are there any possible “phantom reasons” that could be tempting me to say yes when God wants me to say no (ex: fear, guilt, a desire to please people)?
  8. If I say yes, what will it mean saying no to?
  9. If I say no, what will it mean saying yes to?
  10. When I look back in ten years, will this be a story I want to share?

This list isn’t complete, of course. But hopefully it provides a starting point for you.

(Side note: one thing that’s not on this list is, “Do I feel scared silly about doing it?” What God asks us to do often does lead to fear in the beginning. When He says “do not fear” in Scripture, it’s most often to someone who is already afraid. If we’re walking the path God has for us, then it seems fear is more often confirmation to continue than a reason to turn back.)

After evaluating and praying, it’s time to “test and approve.” In other words, you move forward with what God has asked you to do to the best of your knowledge. You stay closely connected to Him in the process and as you go, you adjust. If you make a mistake, you learn from it. If you clearly see His hand in something, you do more of it.

God’s will isn’t something we will see in one single moment. It’s more often something we discover along the way. And in doing so, we find more of what our hearts really need—the God who wants to share every bit of the journey with us.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. If you need more encouragement and practical tools for a dream or decision, You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-Sized Dream can help.

 

Books to encourage you…

Books by Holley Gerth
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What to Do When Someone Barks at You

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My husband, beagle-basset {aka “bagel”} Katie and I stroll along a neighbor street as autumn leaves turn colors and occasionally toss themselves toward us like confetti.

We round a corner and a trio of dogs sound the alarm. Two small. One large. They each offer their version of a bark–a deep, gruff warning; a high-pitched yap; and a trying-to-be-intimidating whine.

I’m startled for a moment and stop in my tracks while my dog keeps moving right along, tail wagging happily. I look in the direction of all the noise and realize why: those three dogs are firmly behind a fence.

Katie {affectionally nicknamed “the beast”} is wiser than me in this way. She pays no attention whatsoever to anything that can’t actually hurt her. Not a single “woof!” in response. Not a missed step. Not a concerned look.

She doesn’t engage in unnecessary vocal back-and-forths. She doesn’t run over to the fence just to show her strength and protect her image. She doesn’t wag her tail to convince them to change their minds and like her. She just carries on.

I, on the other hand, pay a disproportionate amount of attention to barking–even when the source has no real power over me. The enemy of my soul growls a discouraging lie and I consider giving up on my dream. A criticism comes in from the far corners of the internet and I think about throwing my computer out the window. An offhand remark from an acquaintance hits a tender spot and I bristle.

I’m in a season of reevaluating where and how I spent my energy and emotion. I find myself often asking this simple, hard question about each choice I make: Is this really worth it? And when it comes to responding to the barking that comes from behind fences the answer is clearly this: Nope, it’s not.

If you hear barking ask yourself this:

Can this actually hurt me or is this simply triggering my fear?

What will it cost me to engage in this?

What do I risk missing out on if I get sidetracked by this right now?

I keep going back to the same passage in Hebrews 12 a lot lately:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I always thought of those in the “great cloud of witnesses” as cheering us on. And, mostly, I hope they are. But I think the real point is this: there will be all kinds of spectators in the race of your life and your job is to simply persevere and keep moving forward with your eyes fixed on Jesus. No matter what anyone else says or does.

In other words, pay no attention to that barking from behind the fence.

It’s not worth it. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

You have places to go. You have dreams to pursue. You have a purpose to fulfill.

Your Master is beside you. And in the end, nothing else really matters.

Carry on, wise and brave friend…

XOXO

Holley Gerth

{enjoy more encouragement like this in You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dreams}

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The Wild Art of Dreaming

 

Hearts photo by Stephanie Ackerman

photo by stephanie ackerman…check out her fabulous site!

Last week I got to share about God-sized Dreams with a group of amazing women at Camp Create. As I stood up to speak the first night I confessed, “Creating art used to scare me silly. I wouldn’t even go near a hot glue gun.”

My fear came from a false belief that there was a right way to make art and that the end result had to be perfect. A few months ago I did an art journaling class that set me free. And I came to understand this: creating art and dreaming aren’t that much different. And they’re both good for our souls. Here’s what I mean…

Creating art and dreaming both require giving up control. Things never turn out the way you picture them in your mind. This can be wildly frustrating and incredibly freeing all at once. Art and dreams teach us to let go and trust.

Art and dreaming also both mean getting messy. We have to get our hands and hearts right into the middle of it all. Neither one are spectator sports. They’re not about perfection but instead growth and beauty.

Art and dreaming are more about the journey than the destination. We may think we want a certain outcome but what really benefits us most is the actual doing and becoming that happen along the way.

Art and dreaming are unique to each of us. No two people will create the same thing or have exactly the same goal. We reflect the wonder and glory of the God who created us when we open ourselves to one-of-a-kind expressions.

Art and dreaming both involve fear. And the only way to become braver is to put ourselves in situations where we feel fear and do it anyway.

Art and dreaming aren’t necessary for surviving…but they’re essential for thriving. They make us come alive deep down inside.

We are works of art made by God. We are living dreams that began in His heart. Creativity isn’t something that belongs to a few of us–it’s an essential part of all of us.

Make art.

Dream.

Be.

Wherever you are today.

In whatever way you can.

Even when you feel afraid.

You have beautiful gifts to offer the world that only you can create. 

How do you enjoy expressing your creativity? What helps you dream?

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. If you’d like encouragement for your dreams, my books You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dream can help.

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The Wild Mysterious

Hey You, Courageous Girl, the one standing with your toes dipped into the edge of the divine dream that’s been placed on your heart. The one glancing over your shoulder and wondering what everyone will think if you dive into the deep. The one poised on the edge of one of the most powerful heart moments of your life.

Go for it.

Dive into the Dream by Holley Gerth

{all the images I create are yours to use, enjoy and share however you’d like}

Will people understand? Nope.

Will they cheer? A few yes, most no.

Will you get a trophy, or better yet, a crown? Not in this lifetime.

We as humans, especially as women, long to be understood. We love to hear, “I get it” and “me too” and “I know just what you mean.” But we serve a God of the wild mysterious.

I few years ago I confessed to a friend that this was my worst fear: Having my heart misunderstood. And that fear has come true. Over and over. And despite my best efforts, it will happen again. I’ve come to understand being brave and courageous means moving forward when no one–including you–has a clue where you’re truly going.

If you try to make everyone understand, you will stand still all your life. So leap into the fear, step into the spotlight, dive into the dream.

Lay down your desire to have everyone’s approval.

It’s the hardest and most freeing thing you’ll ever do.

And tomorrow you’ll have to do it again.

Recently I whispered, “God, I’m so tired of what you’re doing in my life making no sense.” In response I sensed what I really needed to know most: He is with me. Even if I can’t see the whole plan he can. And he loves me. That’s truth beyond what I can comprehend…or anyone else can either. And it’s all I really need to know.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

 

p.s. I’m excited about this…

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