Muzzle the Monster

SO...funny story, I had started this blog about the big bad wolf but had only sketched out a thought for the artwork.  Then as I was scrolling through the events on Facebook I saw this painting class so I took it!  It was a great experience and I loved the teacher.  To me it is typical that when you have something going on in your mind, writing or art it all comes together in unexpected ways.  Trust the process, trust God.


The fear I lived with on a daily basis is ridiculous.  Always waiting for the "other shoe to drop".  There are seasons where it seemed to subside and seasons where it seemed to rule my life.  We all have fear.  I write about it often because I think it is such a dominant theme in our lives.  We live with rational fear and we live with irrational fear.  It manifest in many ways; fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of risk, fear of unknown, fear of death, fear of being hurt(isolation), etc.  I could go on and on about all the different types of fear but each fear we have is individually wrapped in our life story, the circumstances of our past and our daily life.  Fear brings friends to the party like worry, isolation, anxiety, depression, codependency and insomnia.  Fear is highly individualized and yet at its very core the same.  Fear is nothing but love turned upside down.  

Recently I had this vision of fear, a picture instead of just the feeling. 
I saw little Red Riding Hood all grown up.  In her hand was a leash and on the end of the leash the big bad wolf.  He was muzzled, unable to bark at all.  I sat and thought about my old friend "fear" who at one time in my life had been the driving force.  Fear of rejection, fear of disapproval, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear for my children, fear of it all crumbling down, all of these things were out of control in one way or another in my life.  Ravaging my mind with constant racing thoughts of terror.  

Fear had become so familiar, I didn't even realize the intrusion it had in my life.  Fear was a constant companion. I thought I was doing as well as I could, and maybe I was.  I had a child that was addicted to drugs, a high pressure job (life) and two more children to be concerned about.  In that seasons life was thick with untamed thoughts, anxiety and restless nights.  Nights were spent ruminating on my fears and my days filled with striving to control my life in order to calm the fears. Some of my fears were rational but often those were overshadowed by the  monster of irrational fear.  I was happy but lurking beneath the surface was a tsunami of fear.  All of my striving in my own strength could not keep it down.  My faith stayed strong, it kept me a float in the ocean of destruction but I could not seem to win the battle.  I am forever grateful to those that surrounded my during those days and spoke truth and hope into my life. 

So what changed?  How did I go from that person who was controlled by fear to a person living predominantly a fearless life.  Well, in all honesty the worst happened and I survived.  Pain changes people, it just does.  I had to look hard at my life (it was a shambles) and build a new one.  I had to choose love and joy.  I truly am living out my dreams, taking risk and sometimes failing but always winning.  Winning, because I take the risk.   I am an artist, braving to do things the very things I am afraid of and doing my best to live in love.  Trying everyday not to let fear win.  I still struggle with fear in some areas of my life, those areas where the deepest wounds are but it is not consuming.  

Let me state this  again very clearly, I still struggle with fear but it is manageable now.  I try to stay engaged in the battle daily.  Here are my notes on Fear.  

1.  With fear there are two battles---one to get free, the other to stay free.  Life has to be intentional.  We can learn and grow in our understanding of fear, tear ourselves loose of it's grip but if we are not intentional we will find ourselves right back in it's grip.  It is a lifelong battle.  Fill your life with intentional choices of love not fear.  
2.  Much of our fear is based on our past.  Our wounds typically direct our fears.  Learn to heal those wounds, don't give them any more power over your life by allowing them to dictate how you live.  Here is an example from my life:  I was afraid of my art not being good enough (okay well actually I was afraid of not being enough all the time ) because I thought my art wouldn't be good enough(it was discouraged in my circle at the time) I quit doing something I love, painting.  I could give you a million more examples but you are likely already thinking of your own.  Don't let the past dictate your future!
3.  Quit feeding your fear.  Stop thinking on it, stop ruminating over and over about what could go wrong and flip it on it's head.  I love that quote, But what if I fall oh my darling what if you fly? When your mind is racing ask yourself these questions:  Is this real? What is the worst that can happen?  What is the best that can happen?  Then quit feeding your fear by rehearsing it in your mind over and over and start focusing on what the best that could happen is.  God has given us the ability to retrain our brains, start thinking on those things that are good and lovely.  Think on love. 
4.  Realize that we see things often as the big bad wolf when in reality fear is just a dog that you control.  Put it on a leash and muzzle it.  I always think of this acronym...FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.  Seventy five percent of the time, fear is not based in any type of reality.  YOU have power over it. 
5.  Fear will keep you from living fully in the present, rob you of your love and joy.  Fear keeps us focused on the future and protecting ourselves and our loved ones but that focus keeps us from living with love in our present because we are living with fear instead of love.  The absence of fear is actually a childlike faith, a joy in today, a love and zest for life. 
6.  To realize your true passions and potential you must be willing to embrace fear and take risk. Once I survived the loss of my son and the loss of my marriage I realized that i could survive anything.  You can survive anything.  I just started tuning into my fear and running towards it, that is what changes it.   I leaned into the scary things and found out they had no real power.  I failed and failed again and then eventually succeeded.  Failure is part of success but if you refuse to try you will never experience the exhilaration of success.  Choose to believe in the power of love to carry you through failure.  

I spent a great deal of my life trying to protect myself.  Creating a world where everyone loved me, where everything would be perfect.   I thought I lived in love but actually the house I built was founded on fear.  I filled it with as much love as I could but in the end a bad foundation will always crumble and fall apart.  Turns out it was a house of cards.  We really have no control over life, it is in the makers hands.   Choose to believe that in His hands love will win. 

I haven't won the battle but I am building a better foundation.  A foundation built on truth, faith and self love.  It is not wrong to love yourself, it is necessary.  I loathed myself for many years, treated myself poorly and believed I deserved to be treated like a dog on a leash.  That was what fear had done to me, my life of self protection was really just a form of slavery.  

I can only tame the monster of fear with love.  Love for myself, love for my God and love for others.  If I love myself I will fight against allowing fear to rob me of life's best.  If I love God I will trust Him and His plan.  If I love others fearlessly I will experience authentic love.  All of these things muzzle the monster of fear in my life.  This is my choice, what will you choose?

 Life isn't always easy friends, but it is "brutiful".  A mixture at times of beauty and brutal experiences.  There is always love.  Look for it, fight for it and believe in it. Thanks for reading tribe.  I write for me and I write in hopes that it will help others. 

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