The Opposite of Fear Is Not Courage
A few months ago I had a week full of fear related to my work. I felt overwhelmed, andthe thoughts running through my head looked something like this:
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“This is too much.”
“I need to just find another job.”
“I’m not going to be able to fulfill everyone’s expectations.”
You may recognize this pattern of negative self-talk. Rapid-fire statements rooted in a place of fear. Each one you listen to and believe hits you a little harder and if you’re not careful, you will one day find yourself leveled by your own thoughts, flattened by your own fears.
I think our reaction when we feel afraid about something happening in our lives is to look for courage. We listen to familiar messages about inner strength and digging deep down to find it. Fighting through and being stronger than you think.
But what about those times when you do dig deep down searching for inner strength and courage within yourself and you come up empty handed? What do you do then when your knees are still shaking, what’s in front of you remains daunting and you determine that your inner strength must be so inner at this point that is un-findable?
I am beginning to wonder if courage is the appropriate response to fear.
One morning as I sat on my couch allowing the negative and fearful thoughts to play in my head I noticed a quality of these thoughts I hadn’t seen before: They were ungrateful. Not only were they negative, untrue and made me afraid, but they lacked gratitude.
Which got me thinking, what if I combated this season of fear by being grateful, rather than courageous?
So I tried it out and began to argue fear with thankfulness.
For example, I was worried about an upcoming conference call. It was with people in my field who were much more seasoned and smarter than I and I was afraid I would say something stupid or they would be able to see how ill-equipped I felt.
But before the call, as soon as I caught myself feeling afraid, I stopped and said thank you. “Thank you, God, for the opportunity to speak with people who are more knowledgeable than I am. Thank you for this chance to learn and grow. Thank you that I even get to do this as my job every day.”
The gratitude didn’t say I was courageous. The gratitude didn’t say I was stronger than I thought I was or more capable than I knew. No, gratitude simply put me in my place as a human and put God in his place as God.
When we are grateful in the midst of difficulty or fear, we are forced to take a posture of humility before our God. Nothing like saying thank you can do this to us.
When our fear comes from a place of insecurity in ourselves or uncertainty about the future, courage may not be the answer for us, but gratitude shifts things into perspective. The blur of scary and fearful focuses into a more accurate picture in which God is big and we are small and this is exactly how it’s supposed to be.
I just saw your article appear in my Inbox and wanted to reply since I’m in the middle of writing a similar blog post!
I’m writing about the connection between joy and gratitude. It’s all based on what I’ve learned from reading Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. Have you read it? I just discovered her work and now I’m a massive fan.
Brene explained that her research showed that joy was always connected with gratitude. Without exception. Every person that was able to experience joy in their life, also practised the habit of gratitude. She also talked about how fear and vulnerability can get in the way of all that.
Anyway, if you haven’t read it before, I think you would enjoy it.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I love The Gifs of Imperfect and pretty much everything Brene Brown says and writes! I need to read it again to remind myself of all of those connections. Thanks, Dennis!
Andrea, Thank you so much for writing this blog. This morning I was facing a conversation that I felt similar to. It was as if the Lord was speaking right to my heart through you. I than your Mom for turning me on to your blog.
I love it when we read what we’re supposed to read exactly when we’re supposed to read it. The Internet is a wonderful tool for the Holy Spirit 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Laurie!
I’m in a season where I am full of fear and frustration. I’ve noticed that my heart has grown hard and cold- definitely not grateful. Thanks giving me a new perspective on things.
It’s so hard to be in seasons like that. Fortunately they are seasons. Gratitude isn’t a cure-all but I think it certainly helps and moves us into a freer place.
I struggle with fear a lot, and reading this gave me a whole new perspective on how to deal with it. Thank you so much for your insight!
This is an excellent article. Fortunately at present my problems are few, but for many years I have lifted myself from a period of negative thinking simply by praying long prayers that were only lists of things for which I was (or am) thankful. I also find this to work wonders when I am unhappy about a person and I find when I thank God for the good things about that person they soon over-shadow the petty actions I was disliking. Blessings to you as you continue your journey to the work God has prepared for you to do.
Yes! Gratitude can change pretty much any situation. I love that you applied this to “difficult” people. I need to do the same!
Love it; thank you, Andrea. It’s a great message for all of us, young and a little older:) The fears may be different, but they have the same root… not appreciating the provisions God has already given us and the safe passage thus far. I remember your dad saying to “stack your stones!” I love that, and it has stuck with me:) As a matter of fact I have little smooth stones stacked around my house for that very reason. God is good!
Andrea, this is really, really good food for thought!! You keep keepin on and I will keep read readin on!! Blessings
[…] The opposite of fear is not courage. […]
Andrea, thank you for being so humble as to sharing your deepest thoughts, experiences, fears and strengths. You allow God to use you in a mighty way when you testify all you go through and you show us all that although you love our Lord and Savior with all your being, you are still human and you struggle. Yet through it all you draw your strength from Christ and you show that without him we are nothing, but with Him He dwells within us and we can do all things through Him. I have so many struggles and it’s so hard for me to deal with them and there are many, many times I have been in the mindset you have shared with us in this blog. You help me to be able to focus and find the strength I need and the courage to go on with all my daily struggles whether it be in my work or my marriage. Those are the two biggest struggles I deal with. I am so grateful for God blessing us with you and your family. You have nothing to fear! You are blessed with a gift that no one can deny…I pray for God to continue blessing you in all you strive to do and to witness to you just how special you are and you have a mighty purpose to fulfil!! <3
All I have to say is, thank you.
some time back you blogged about starting each day thinking about 5 positive things. how are you doing on that? it’s hard when you’re not wired that way. DW
“…and you determine that your inner strength must be so inner at this point that is un-findable” , “The gratitude didn’t say I was courageous. The gratitude didn’t say I was stronger than I thought I was or more capable than I knew. No, gratitude simply put me in my place as a human and put God in his place as God.” – how do you come up with sentences like these? Beautifully written and so true! Thank you for sharing. 🙂
[…] Lucado wrote a blog post entitled; The Opposite of Fear is Not Courage and she asked a very thought provoking question: “What if I combated this season of fear […]
I stubbled across this as I was asking God and searching about a connection Between fear and gratitude. This season for me has been filled with much fear and I have so much to be blessed about, that I needed to remember these blessing clearly.
So one day I took a masters class in the Calm app in regard to gratitude. I have been dealing with fear for sometime and the minute I completed the masters class and did a few gratitude exercises I realize that m yFear has softened. It impacted me so deeply that I wondered to maybe gratitude is the right opposition to fear. So in the calm app there’s an exercise to do a gratitude countdown starting from 10 up to 1 stating what you are grateful for, I did it during the gratitude masters class and Tamara Leavitt who is the author of the the masters class challenges to do it daily.
So I tried it again today I have been struggling with some feelings of fear and vulnerability and I took a nice warm shower and in the shower I decided to do the gratefulness countdown and just like when I took the Masters class my fear softened almost disappeared.
I want thank you so much for sharing and allowing the Holy Spirit to use you in such a way to let us know that there are more responses to fears and that those responses come in the form of being grateful.
I am grateful for this blog and I will certainly added to my gratefulness countdown thank you Andrea thank you!
PS: A girlfriend of mine just told me about Brene Brown’s book the gift of perfection and seeing it on the blog today, that someone also recommended it to you as well is further confirmation that I am on the right road that God is looking out for me that God is leading and directing me and so I’m going to order that book today because I believe God has better for me than drowning in fear bless you Andrea?