As we spring courageously from the tip of fear we launch ourselves into a world of authenticity, truth and freedom. Risky but rewarding!
Authentic living begins where the tip of fear ends!
Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design
Where fear ends-life begins
He was a large, intimidating figure in contrast to my petite 15-year-old frame. The only teacher who taught the required math class I needed to graduate High School.
As I entered the room the smell of fear still hung heavy, mingled with stale air from the previous class.
I took my assigned seat, instantly coveting those who sat further toward the back.
Startled, I looked up. The loud whack of a long, wooden pointer rhythmically struck his beefy left hand. A steady-pulsating-metronome, sending out audible warnings with each strike. Clearly willing us to just, “try and defy him”.
The old, wooden desk at the front of the room inaudibly groaned as his paunchy frame parked itself, overlapping its edge; seams and buttons straining.
Bulging eyes, watchful and attentive, instinctively caused my head to duck behind the student in front of me, buffering me from his apparent omniscient gaze.
He seemed to be a mind reader, instantly ferreting out students he knew he could shame through exposure and failure.
One by one he called timid students to the black board to solve mathematical equations.
As I walked from my desk to stand before the long, black, slatestone, I knew I had met my demise.
With chalk in hand I had crossed the threshold into one of my greatest nightmares!
I never got use to the routine of his class; it was a room filled with fear from the instant I entered its door to my hurried departure.
Even though I spent endless after-school hours on homework, mathematics never crystalized in my creative brain.
It became no secret that I knew little about numbers!
Hiding to protect self
My fateful math class was only one of many shame-shaping experiences in my life. Shame which perpetuated fear and fear which triggered hiding the real me.
Maybe you can identify with hiding your true-self because of shame and fear.
For me it was rushing to be last in line for an elementary relay race. Or standing off to the side in a conversation. Or physically hiding myself in a crowd of critical thinkers. Or sitting in the back row of a classroom.
Many years later I learned that I was a delayed processor. My slow processing required me to take extra time to formulate and plan how I would do things. Fear often caused me to proceed with extreme caution!
But, as I learned, life doesn’t always wait for us to figure out what we think or if we understand what is being asked of us.
Because of this aspect, I learned to hide my fear behind masks. Masks designed to protect myself from what I thought others felt about me. Masks that portrayed the person I thought they wanted me to be.
I was always hoping my façade portrayed a person who was put together. A person that others would accept and approve of.
When my mask slipped and the real-me surfaced, for one quick moment it felt good to be me; but quickly that sense of freedom turned to shame, and I felt vulnerable, exposed and flawed.
Fear of exposure caused me to live in constant fear of what others thought of me, thus perpetuating people pleasing.
Was it this one math class that caused these reactions in me? I think not. But repeated experiences of humiliation, embarrassment and shame, caused me to physically and emotionally flee situations that would somehow seek to expose me in front of others.
This risk of exposure kept me hidden, thus frequently causing me to give-way to the voice of fear-chatter.
When we let fear-chatter dictate,
Risking entering the conversation isn’t even an option.
Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design
The risk of authenticity
As years went by I learned how to remove my masks and identify the cluttered wall of shame in my life. I learned that by living as my authentic self, I could come out of hiding and enjoy a life of freedom.
I knew that to live out of God’s design, I needed to discard fear, and no longer let shame characterize who I was.
But there was still one big problem! Each time I began to take a step in the direction of authenticity, the voice of fear-chatter instantly began its incessant soliloquy. Seeking to keep the authentic me hidden.
What is fear-chatter?
“By now you may be asking, what is fear-chatter?”
Fear-chatter is: an all-consuming voice that speaks incessant lies inside our head telling us that we are never enough. Never good enough. Never courageous enough. Never thin enough. Never smart enough. Never – ever enough!
If we engage this voice, the lies often draw us deeper into a place of self-debasement and self-centeredness. Driving us further away from the truth of what God says about us.
When we give-way to the incessant dialog of fear-chatter, our true-self remains hidden beneath masks of pretense, afraid of being exposed for who we really are.
Two sides of fear
The voice of fear is a bully one minute, daring you to risk being bold; but when you do, it degrades and tells you how lousy you are.
One minute it pushes you to risk, and the next it slanders you when you do risk and act upon its urgings. It is insistent, persistent and relentless.
It debilitates you from stepping onto the stage of life, for fear of showing others your authentic true-self. “What if I get laughed at?” “What if they don’t accept the real me?” “What if I’m not enough?”
“Is what I’m thinking really worth being heard?” “I don’t really have anything of value to offer the discussion. After all, people respect her, and she can say it much better than I could anyway.”
Fear-chatters damaging effects
Listening to fear-chatter damages, destroys and reduces us.
If we give-in to fear-chatters voice, it will keep us from stepping out with courage, and walking in obedience as the person God designed and desires us to be.
Fear-chatter can debilitate us. If we are persuaded to listen to its defrocking voice, we will never live free, as women of authenticity. Rather, we will be driven like the waves of the ocean of defeat; tossed about, unstable, unsatisfied- not knowing which way to turn.
The voice of fear-chatter can keep us feeling invisible; afraid others will find out who we really are. It can make us feel unheard, un-used in ministry and unloved.
If we tune-in to fear-chatter, our thoughts will take an automatic spiral downward. Not only do our longings get squashed along the way; but our spiritual compass will go off course.
God’s instructions are clear. “Do not fear!”
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
Isaiah 43:1 (NASB)
“Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
God, I don’t want to give heed to the voice of fear-chatter. Deliver me God from the enemy of fear. Help me to recognize it’s lying voice as it seeks to convince me that I am something other then what You say I am.
Show me how to take off the cloak of shame from past regrets and to walk in the light of Your love. May I look to You to define me and not to others.
God, it is my desire to be vulnerable so that I can live as a woman who is different by God’s perfect design. A woman who is led by the Spirit of God and not the voice of fear.
Thank you, God, that you are always with me. I do not need to fear!
In Jesus Powerful Name! Amen.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV)
*As you have read this blog post you have learned what fear-chatter is, and how debilitating it can be when we listen to its incessant voice.
I invite you to stay reading as next we will learn to intentionally address fear-chatter with the truth of God’s Word.
Linda Jane Dingeldein respectfully honors the hard working, resilient Mangyan families whose village is near Puerto Galera, Philippines
photography by Linda Jane Dingeldein