I wrestled a lot with fear growing up. There were countless movies I watched as a child that perpetuated the spirit of fear in ways unimaginable. I was terrified of the dark and couldn’t bear to sleep in my bedroom alone, so much so that I often pleaded with my brother to share my room at night, bribing him with money and all sorts of other material things.
Once it got to about 3 pm during the day, I started with negotiations, please come and sleep in my room tonight, I will give you money or I will buy you suya. I felt the happiest when I knew someone was going to spend the night with me or when my father was going to be out of town, which meant I could move into my parents room and spend nights with my mother.
The Fear Factor
I recall one incident when my mother and I went shopping all day. After we returned home, I put away the groceries, tidied up, and went in for a power nap at about 5 pm because I was exhausted. This so-called nap ended up lasting seven hours as I found myself awake at midnight. I quickly realized that I had fallen asleep in my room, but didn't hesitate to enter my brother’s room to continue the night there.
By morning when my dad was about to leave for work, he walked past my brother’s room which happened to be open, and saw me asleep there. He was disappointed; he could not understand why I could not sleep in a room alone. I was 17 and about to leave for college on a different continent, so there was an immediate cause for concern.
How was I going to survive?
When I resumed college, I had a roommate (thankfully) and roughly after one year my brother joined me and we got an apartment together. It was a small two-bedroom apartment, hence it was no longer a big deal for me to sleep by myself in a room at night. I had also grown up a little, so some sense of maturity kicked in.
However, as soon as my brother moved out after college, I got a one-bedroom apartment. Even more perfect! I loved my little space. I often wondered how my married friends who lived in big homes coped whenever their spouses were out of town. Living in a five or six-bedroom house alone wasn’t even a thought that crossed my mind.
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Fast forward to a couple of years later, I moved back home. The only living space that was available for me at the time was a five-bedroom house. Although I wanted to get an apartment, this was more cost-effective as it was free and no one was living there. I was freaking out and stalled as much as I could before I eventually moved in. By this time I was 29. You would think that fear was a thing of the past, but it moved in with full force as the second occupant of my home.
The first night I spent there, I happened to leave all the lights on in the house, not only that, but I also made sure the TV stayed on as well. Then I prayed like I had never prayed before. I was so afraid. Once I entered the room and shut the door for the night, I didn’t leave for anything until the next morning. In fact, the first few days were extremely difficult as I usually stayed up until the sun came up. Then I was comfortable drifting into sleep.
The fear I once battled as a child reared its ugly head again.
Overcoming The Spirit of Fear
Then one day my father called me randomly saying he was coming to visit. I was exhilarated. Someone else was going to be in the house with me. Just a mere thought about it gave me confidence. He came and that was it, the fear left. Although we didn’t share the same bedroom, I turned off all the lights in the house. Even if his room was across the hallway from mine, I was still calm.
Now what superpowers did my father possess to expel fear, one might ask? I also found myself asking this question.
As such, I began pondering how powerful a person's presence is. Just because my father was in the house with me, even if I didn’t see him sometimes, I felt safe. This then led me to think about how much more powerful God’s presence is.
Although we can’t see Him, we know He is there according to Hebrews 13:5-6, which says “Let your life be without covetousness, be content with whatever you have, for He has said “ I will never leave you nor forsake you” so you can say with confidence that the Lord is my helper I shall not FEAR, what can mere man do to me?''
Then I found my freedom! I began to see that the light I carried on the inside was more powerful than the darkness around me. If I could be by myself during the day, why should night time be any different? If I could trust God to protect me during the daytime, then why should night time be up for discussion when the Bible says that the night is just as bright as day in the eyes of God.
Hence, from that time on I became fearless! God delivered me from the spirit of fear with that simple realization.
Steps to overcome the spirit of fear
Step 1: Trust in God— God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He is always with us, and as such we have nothing to be afraid of. The same way my father was with me, and I did not fear, is the same way God who is more powerful, who protects us from things seen and unseen, is always with us. The Bible says that whoever fears has not been made perfect in love. Maybe the understanding of what God's love means for us is, I will never leave you nor forsake you. From that revelation comes a sense of confidence and peace.
Step 2: Know who you are in Christ—If we harbor fear, it indicates that we don’t trust Him entirely or we don’t know who we are in Christ Jesus. Once you realize your identity, which is a child-of-God and joint-heirs with Christ, then you understand that nothing can separate you from His love and you are more than a conqueror, hence, you can conquer fear.
Step 3: Know what the Bible says about fear—There are a plethora of instances in the Bible where a statement begins with "fear not," this shows that God does not perpetuate the spirit of fear if He tells His people not to be afraid. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) says: " for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
If you are battling fear or anxiety just know that you are not alone. God is always with you, and always for you. Don’t let the enemy lie to you as he did to me all those years I battled with the spirit of fear. Remember, greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
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