Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up. {Is. 41:10}

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I feel a tug at the edge of my jacket and look down to identify the perpetrator. She’s brown and speckled with hair that’s sandpaper soft. Her belly is wide and she’s looking at me expectantly. I smile at her, “Okay, Mama Goat, here’s a snack.” She gobbles straight from my hand, slobbery and delighted.

Later in front of the lion cage I reach out a hand and place it flat against the glass. I imagine the beast on the other side grabbing the edge of my clothing too. The scene that unfolds in my mind is entirely different. I shiver and salute the cage with respect. “You stay there and I’ll stay there,” I think.

This is, in many ways, how we process fear as humans. We are unafraid of what we believe we can control. The waddling goat. The conversation with close friends. The spreadsheet we have done a thousand times. But our hearts speed up and our hands shake at the prospect of what we cannot. The lion licking its lips. The party with a thousand strangers. The new project that has been dubbed “critical.”

When we are afraid our first move is usually to try to gain control in some way. We dress to impress. We choose our words carefully. We go over the numbers again and again. Or we try to control others with shouting or compliments or pans of brownies.

When I went looking for back up for this strategy in Scripture I was disappointed. I discovered, much to my dismay, that the only type of control we are allotted is my least favorite kind: self-control. The universe is not on our list. Nor our relatives. Not the neighbors or the door-slamming teenager or the decorating committee. None of them.

So when anxiety stalks us, we can pause and ponder, “What am I afraid of right now?” Once we name it we can ask, “What can I actually control in this situation?”

A wise friend and counselor, Susan Goss, likes to explain it something like this: We can’t control our marriage but we can control what kind of wife we are. We can’t control our children but we can control what kind of parent we will be. We can’t control our career but we can control the sort of employee we are to our company.

This realization is likely to be met with huffing and frustration, perhaps a few kicks at the table leg and a tearing open of the package of Oreos in the back of the cabinet.

But after all that, when we actually start living this way, we find something unexpected. The fear begins to diminish. In other words, taking the next step of obedience is the equivalent of putting the glass wall between us and the lion. What we fear might still be present, but it can no longer get its claws into us.

Because of the God in us, we are braver and stronger and wiser than what we feared after all. We really always have been—we just may not have known it for awhile.


Holley Gerth

– This post is Part Two of the End the Year with Less Fear series inspired by a live #MoreThanSmallTalk Overcoming Fear video.

– Looking for encouraging gifts? My bookshop has something for every woman on your Christmas list this year. {Psst…lots of sales are going on now.}


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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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