Fear and worry tend to put a choke-hold on life. They whisper uncertainties, reminding us of all we can’t do or will never be. But what does it mean when the Bible portrays God as drawing close and saying, ‘Fear not. I am with you’? What is a ‘fear fighter’?
Bible Gateway interviewed Kelly Balarie (@kellybalarie) about her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears (Baker Books, 2017).
What are the fears you address in the book?
Kelly Balarie: Fear begins as a child. I remember standing on the edge of a diving board for 30 minutes. Each time I would bounce a little, imagining my move, but then, I’d go nowhere. Many of us do this day in and day out: we bounce a little and want to take a leap, but get nowhere. We are afraid. We stay stuck. It is a sad story of discouragement and many times despair. Despite our heart to take the leap, we find we can’t move to where God is calling us.
In Fear Fighting, I explore all kinds of fear: fear of the future, the past, being who God created you to be, criticism, seizing your dreams, moving past the past and more. I also confront the debilitating nature of worry and anxiety in a believer’s life. I explore how to become faithful instead of fearful and hopeful instead of full of angst that the ball is always about to drop.
What does the Bible have to say about fear?
Kelly Balarie: Fear Fighting was my own desperation call to God. I lived anxious, worried, and trembling, rather than walking into God’s greatest callings. I knew God’s Word in my head, but I wanted to move his truth to my heart. I wanted to exchange fear for faith. I wanted to be delivered.
These verses inspired me:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 Jo. 4:18).
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).
What they showed me was: in the face of God’s love, it’s hard to be facing debilitating fear. They’re polar opposites; God’s love repels fear. And, when his love moves in, here, we reclaim our spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. This is a key component of Fear Fighting.
You write about eight fear inducers. Explain a few of them.
Kelly Balarie: A fear inducer is anything that hinders you from being a God abider. If you can’t rest in God, you’ll likely be resting in fear.
One inducer is worry. Worry makes us run like a mouse on a hamster wheel. Around and round it goes, but progress? Nope. We never get anywhere. Worry ends fruitless. Even more, it leaves us exasperated and worn down; certain life will come crashing down. Fear Fighting teaches you how to move past worry into the wonderful things God has planned for you in the present moment.
Another inducer is people pleasing. I remember, in college, I wanted to please everyone. Wanted an intelligent woman? I’d be slow to speak and wise with my words. Wanted an outgoing woman? I’d step right up and start chatting. Call me a chameleon, but I knew who to be and how to fit in. Fear Fighting exchanges the desire to appease man for the overwhelming joy of knowing you please God.
The only problem was when I got home. When I looked in the mirror, my reflection was downcast and demoralized. The truth was, I was living a lie. I was unknown. Isolated. Unsure. What I sold others, was not who I was.
Often, many of us live a lie. It tears us apart and it rips at the fabric of who God has created us to be. Fear Fighting is about awakening the person God has created you to be.
How does a person “cultivate unstoppable faith by harnessing God’s Word”?
Kelly Balarie: For a long time I’ve known God’s Word. I could recite verses on-demand. I could point you to key stories in the Bible. I recite Scripture in a person’s time of need. God’s Word was housed in my head, but not so much in my heart.
We cultivate unstoppable faith when we harness God’s Word in the core, in the depths, and in the heart of our being. Here, rather than living life reactive, we become active participants in God’s story. Rather than wavering when fear comes a’knocking, we start abiding in him, the one we know—beyond a shadow of a doubt—is truth. Rather than staying complacent, we get brazen. We step into God’s callings. We move with faith.
What do you mean by “discover the power of now”?
Kelly Balarie: For many a day, I’ve lived in my past, thinking, “I’ve always failed and I always will.” For many a day, I’ve lived in the future, saying, “I’ve got to get to that destination and then I’ll be happy.” Living in the power of now is about resting in the presence of God. Where God is working is your right here, right now. Your present moment is where joy is; it’s where peace is and it’s where God will liberate you. Don’t miss it. Fear Fighting helps us become alive to the transforming work of God that’s right before us.
What are daily bravery decrees?
Kelly Balarie: I’ve been so surprised. A variety of people have read Fear Fighting and told me, “Kelly, I never realized how much I struggle with fear until I read your book.”
I believe fear is our bad best friend we get used to. Fear becomes such a part of our day, we don’t realize we’re walking in worry, anxiety, or fret. Many times we become unaware of what we’re believing.
Daily bravery decrees break the power of lies. They replace the underlying belief with the life-charging power of love and grace. They’re short lines that you can carry with you through your day. They’re truths you can dwell on instead of dwelling in fear.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Kelly Balarie: The Bible Gateway app is my go-to spot for God’s truth. I can’t tell you how many times it’s lifted my day and sent me out with fresh encouragement. I’m thankful to God for all they do to bless so many.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Kelly Balarie: Be encouraged. If you fear, you aren’t a bad Christian—you’re human. Fearing less is a process, but it’s one God will help us through. Our part is to be ready, willing, and able to fight; to fall, arms-wide-open, into God’s love. This is what Fear Fighting is all about!
Bio: Kelly is both a cheerleader of faith and a fighter of fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at www.fearfightingbook.com.
Kelly Balarie is a passionate national speaker who has spent nearly ten years leading groups of women in spiritual growth, marriage building, and general Bible studies across the nation. She has lived her subject matter. Her faith was built as she battled through a debilitating eating disorder, depression, multiple sclerosis testing and concerns, company failures, family deaths, job losses, and times without income or money. Throughout difficult circumstances, Kelly has looked past the pain to uncover the beauty of God’s always-developing purposes for her life. Her greatest desire is to share this treasured beauty with other women who need a fresh drink of God’s grace and restoration. Kelly is a featured blogger at Crosswalk.com and iBelieve.com. Her work has been featured on Relevant, (in)courage.me, and was also the cover story on Today’s Christian Woman. She lives with her husband and two toddlers near the sun-soaked shores of the East Coast.
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