Overcoming fear will be a lifetime struggle and challenge for most of us. We may have fear of failure, abandonment, rejection, or fear of the unknown. I think I struggle with the last one most of all. Fear of the unknown. I went on a Pretty Sisters cruise in 2008 and took a class on dreaming big and how to overcome your fears. The speaker, author Rebecca Hintze, gave an acronym for fear. She said that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. To me this means that what we are afraid of is perhaps something that isn’t even real – just our perception of what is real. Fear is, I believe, one of the biggest reasons we sabotage ourselves and halt our progression. That said, it isn’t something you can simply remove from your life. You have to replace it with something good.
When I took the above photograph, I was able to overcome one of my fears. I drove to the west coast with my oldest daughter to try and get some ocean and slow water shots using a Singh Ray Polarizing ND filter. I don’t venture out on my own very often, especially to someplace I have never been before. I was taking a photography class from photographer Doug Steakley at the time. I bought his book Photographing Big Sur (which I HIGHLY recommend if you live on the West Coast) and decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone and see a little bit more of this beautiful earth. So I got in the car, drove to Point Lobos State Park and other locations along Hwy 1, and started taking pictures. I was amazed at how I was able to replace my fear with awe, wonder, amazement, and sheer joy. I was definitely in my element and had found my “happy place.”
The quote that I added to my photograph above, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear,” is one of my favorites. I have it cut out with vinyl on my wall in my office close to the painting of George Washington praying at Valley Forge. It has been an anchor for me and is something I look at often. When we fill ourselves with positive experiences and goodness something wonderful begins to happen and we find an inner strength we never thought possible.
Overcoming fear can be hard, but it helps if you replace it with light and truth.
Cheryl A. Esplin gave a talk in 2015 entitled “Filling our Homes with Light and Truth.” In it she talked about the importance of being filled with light and truth so that we wouldn’t crumble under the outside forces we are faced with from day to day. Here is a snippet from her talk:
The concept of being filled with light and truth became particularly important to me because of an experience I had many years ago. I attended a meeting where members of the Young Women general board taught about creating spiritually strong families and homes. To visually demonstrate this, a Young Women leader held up two soda cans. In one hand she held a can that was empty and in the other hand a can that was unopened and full of soda. First, she squeezed the empty can; it began to bend and then collapsed under the pressure. Next, with her other hand, she squeezed the unopened can. It held firm. It didn’t bend or collapse like the empty can—because it was filled.
We likened this demonstration to our individual lives and to our homes and families. When filled with the Spirit and with gospel truth, we have the power to withstand the outside forces of the world that surround and push against us. However, if we are not filled spiritually, we don’t have the inner strength to resist the outside pressures and can collapse when forces push against us.
I feel that this concept applies to fear as well. Ever since I was a little child I was taught that faith and fear cannot exist in our hearts/minds at the same time. One will replace the other. It’s like being afraid of the dark. When I was little I was terrified of the dark. It wasn’t until I turned on the light and saw that all was as it should be that I was okay. I had to replace my fear of the dark with light.
So why am I writing about overcoming fear? I am at a crossroads of sorts in my life right now. If you’ve read my “about me” page, you already know why I started this blog and why I chose the name “Home Baked Joy.” When I was in a car accident four and a half years ago, I sustained a concussion. I could barely read to my children and couldn’t count backwards from 20. Upon getting a CT scan, the doctors found a cyst on my brain. When I got a follow-up MRI, four more cysts were discovered. While a concussion is debilitating enough, having the knowledge that there were foreign objects on my brain was more than I felt I could handle at that time. I kept this knowledge private for a very long time because I was afraid. Afraid of the unknown. I’ve had so many tests done that I have been bruised up and down both arms. I’ve had a spinal tap, multiple MRIs, stool samples, and blood work done. I was treated for neurocysticercosis as a precaution, though there was no concrete evidence that I had it. All of these tests gave me the same result. The unknown. I’ve seen multiple neurologists with no concrete answers due to the size and locations of the cysts. All I was told was that I have a 90% chance of a seizure and that I needed to monitor the situation. I have had headaches almost every single day since the car accident. Medication didn’t help. Recently I’ve had increased headaches, dizzy spells, and have fallen twice in the last month and so I am in the process of scheduling yet another MRI. Thus fear and unanswered questions have entered once again into my life.
I promise that I am not writing this to complain. I am writing this in case someone else out there is struggling with a similar condition or perhaps struggling with their own journey of overcoming fear. Sometimes spending countless hours on the internet searching for a cure, for a prognosis, for symptoms, etc. only feeds one’s fear. I had so much fear at one point that it was debilitating. I was afraid of dying, of having a seizure in public (though I’ve never had one to date), of losing my mind and my ability to think or communicate with the world. Then something shifted in my mindset. What if my fear really is “False Evidence Appearing Real?” What if my daily worries and concerns are all for nothing? What if I died today from a car accident and the cysts would never even be the cause of my death? What if I lived a long and healthy life and was able to find joy in the journey?
This morning as I pondered about overcoming fear and all that I am going through right now, I was reminded once again of the cruise I took so many years ago. While on the cruise, I was given this Dream necklace. It is one that I wear often and one that has great significance. Each piece represents something. When I look at the necklace, I am reminded of my divine nature and my need to dream BIG and to have a positive outlook on life. The heart charm is a reminder that I hold the hearts of those I love in my hands. I am a mother, a wife, and a friend. I need to remember their precious love when I struggle with the day to day living and remember that I have something worth living for. The stone is rough cut and unique just like each of us. We are uniquely shaped inside and out, perhaps a little rough on the edges, but priceless and beautiful!
Then there is the pearl. This beautiful pearl. Pearls are formed out of adversity. To me this is a reminder that our greatest gifts, talents, and strengths are formed through adversity. I often wish I could see the big picture and see what God has in store for me and yet, I believe that this is exactly what he had in mind for me. That I need to replace my fear of the unknown with faith. So I am giving my fear to the Savior and am replacing it with the faith that He knows what is best for me and my family. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I don’t want to spend the present filled with fear and worry. Instead I want continue overcoming fear and filling my life with light.
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