Afraid + Brave = Courage

Gulp. Being double-dog dared by your two older brothers ups the ante when it comes to courage. I remember in my elementary school days mustering bravery to squelch my inner terror. My brothers and their friends seemed to have no fear. But me? I’d sit on the edge of the barn loft, peering down into the pile of loose, billowy hay below. “Jump, scared cat, jump! Come on, chicken. Jump!” Gulp. It didn’t matter if the boys were kicking loose and sailing into the thick blanket of prairie hay. My buns clung to the edge of that wooden beam as I envisioning sure injury and possible death.

iPhoto Library“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do,” American World War I fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker once declared. “There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” We actually need fear for courage to exist? I certainly understand the hesitancies in life to try new things and press beyond what we consider our capabilities and limits. You know, the speaking in front of an audience, giving birth, getting a colonoscopy, going back to school, eating boiled okra, changing careers, moving to another state. We’ve all got scenarios that make us squeamish or hold us back from taking risks.

Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” That sums up my childhood days of double-dog dares and talking myself through the risk of free falling into that cushy hay pile. If I recall, I finally summoned enough “mental and moral strength” on my third visit to the edge of the hayloft. I needed to watch the boys jump and come up laughing, not crying. I needed to jump for myself and not them.

“Jump, scared cat, jump!” I braved the hayloft plunge and my fresh courage took me back to the ledge to jump and squeal in delight another time or two that day. Once I overcame that particular fear, my bravery, mixed with common sense, emboldened my courage for other life adventures. Like starting this website and writing this blog to hundreds of you. 🙂

Afraid + Brave = Courage. You ready to double-dog dare your bravery on today?

 

Brave and Resilient Tip #95: Take a risk. Let fear plus bravery be your guide to courage.

 

 

Let’s Talk

Fear in Our Present Times

Q. Can you talk about how not to walk in fear considering our present times, and how to live with both caution and protection?

A. Let’s Talk! We began talking about fear last week. Your question today is about another layer of fear because of our world situation. Here’s how I am processing that kind of fear.

 I do believe that the Lord is My Shepherd! I daily give Him my path. My bottom line is that I will be OK if He has me in His care. Every day’s news and crises are filtered by my trust in my Shepherd; and I have to process that a lot, because I am a news hound!

But! In spite of the news—good or bad—God’s sovereignty is my hope. There are so many promises that He does hold the world in His hands (despite appearances) and He holds me. Last week we talked about “Coming ‘round the mountain.” This week we’re talking about mountains “slipping into the sea” (verse below). We really CAN feel safe.

We do live in fearful times from a human standpoint, but we also live in times of seeing the miraculous from a spiritual perspective. We hold the key to how we choose to see each day’s news. I call it a double lens: I see humanly but also spiritually. The peace we need to walk in NO FEAR comes with that important second lens.

I just had cataract surgery with an implanted lens. Hmmmm, I “see” a word picture here. We do have the ability to have His peaceful implant daily. That’s our secret weapon!

For Deeper Reflection

Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.”

2 Corinthians 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses [pulling down of strongholds, like fear].”

Ephesians 6:10-13 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

 

Let’s Talk

Overwhelmed by Fear and Worry?

 

Q. Would you please talk about being overwhelmed by fear and worry? 

A. Let’s Talk! Fear and worry are rampant in our culture. Drugstore shelves are lined with meds to dull the side effects of those issues, but we find we need much more help than that.

The help we really need is inside us and above us—in our heads and hearts—that connects us to the Someone where we can choose to rest and be okay no matter what.

There are legitimate things to fear in our world like the Ebola virus, groups hostile to America, tornadoes . . . and the list goes on. Let’s call those normal, healthy, reasonable fears. Then there are the irrational “what-if” fears that consume us and stop us in our tracks as a mountain in our path. Both kinds of fears overwhelm us, and we weren’t meant to live in fear.

It is said that fear [either kind] is a signal that we are focused on our present circumstances down below instead of on our help from above! Similarly, a definition of worry I heard years ago is that it is a signal that I have assumed responsibility for something that is not mine. In other words, we can seek God’s help, His perspective, and His freedom. When we do, we can go around that fear mountain unstuck and not overwhelmed.

Just this week I realized that I was going around a mountain that had been in my life for a few years. I’ve even been singing the folk song, “She’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain when she comes . . .” and below are the Bible verses that helped me. (I’ve got to go untie my six white horses.)

For Deeper Reflection

Mark 11: 23-24 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”
Matthew 17: 20 “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’”
Matthew 21: 21 “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

A 180 on Fear

Shortly after 9-11 marred its way into our lives, I had the privilege of interviewing a number of grieving family members directly affected by the terrorist mayhem. I talked with Lisa Beamer whose husband Todd became one of the iconic passengers aboard United Flight 93. Todd’s “Let’s roll” rallying cry emboldened a courageous handful of passengers to storm their attackers before the commandeered airplane slammed into a Pennsylvania field. Instant comrades in their last moments, Todd and the flight’s other brave passengers saved unknown thousands of lives on the ground that fateful September morning.

two way arrow road sign - Version 2
Recently I ran across portions of my conversation with Lisa just a couple weeks after losing Todd. Her grief was painstakingly fresh yet her words comforting.

“If your perspective is only on this life and you are holding onto your little world at all costs,” she explained, “that’s going to be a very fearful thing. Anything can impinge on your security or threaten it—especially terrorism. Despite all the best efforts of our government, we will always be vulnerable in some places.

“Most people’s knee-jerk reaction to the events of September 11 was to look to something higher than themselves—go to church or a prayer service—and I think that’s an indication that people deep down know that this isn’t all there is to life,” Lisa continued. “It’s easy to forget about those deeper issues when life is good, but when a true crisis strikes and people’s earthly security is knocked out from under them, that God-given desire for looking above yourself and beyond yourself comes through.”

What wise words from a newly widowed 32-year-old—a pregnant mother suddenly raising two small boys on her own. Fear hisses when our circumstances spin out of our illusion of control. Fear claws into our thoughts and hunkers down until we look above and beyond ourselves. This 180-degree change in perspective happens when we train our eyes to view the needs of others around us and steady our focus to “see things from [God’s] perspective (Colossians 3:2).

As Lisa reminds us, “If your perspective is only on this life,” fear will eat away at the best of you. We won’t all be called to bravery at 36,000 feet like Todd Beamer. But we can start rolling today with looking above and a beyond our fears right in front of us.

Brave and Resilient Tip #83: Fear dissipates when you look above and beyond yourself.

Let’s Talk

Choosing Not to Fear

Q. Could you please share some more thoughts on not choosing FEAR while I am waiting?

A. Let’s Talk! Here’s a word picture. In that waiting room there is a door named FEAR and another door named REST. Behind the FEAR door is more worry, anxiety, destruction, and darkness. Behind the REST door is love (believing the best), a list of what’s true, worship music, nudgings from God as you listen to Him, and a button for fresh dependency on Him.

Ahhhh, do you feel the difference just hearing what’s behind the doors? Fear never solves a problem—it creates problems. Sadly, we default to fear as a part of the human race as we face uncertainty and delay. BUT WE CAN CHOOSE TO SHUT THAT DOOR. It really is a choice which door you enter fully.

Did you see the video this week of the two elephants swinging their trunks in perfect time to classical violin music? Have you seen the faces of busy shoppers (even grumpy ones) change miraculously when a flash mob of singers and instruments enter the scene? What a change of mood! We can reverse fear and train our hearts to rest as we listen to music and even sing along. Music on a secular level changes our hearts, but imagine the giant step above that if you listen to and even sing worship songs to your Creator! Would you try it this week? Let us know the effect you had closing the door on fear as you immerse yourself in soul-lifting music.

For Deeper Reflection

Psalm 150:1–6 (ESV) Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Psalm 100:2 (ESV) Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Psalm 95:1-2 (ESV) Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

 

 

Let’s Talk

Fear in the Waiting Room

Q. Why does fear show up when we are waiting for something or someone?

A. Let’s Talk! Fear is an unwelcome guest in the waiting room of life as we face unknowns, for sure! Fear is never invited and stays longer than we’d like. There are ways to lessen its grip on us, though. Fear feels really big, but it is really a “lack of.” Let’s do talk.

Fear shows up when there is a lack of trust, a lack of information, a lack of faith at the moment, or a lack of remembering what’s true. We do have a choice when fear creeps in. We can let fear consume and control us, or we can choose to think on all the things we do know that are true about the situation. We can change that channel!

I had a fear test days ago myself. My little dog, Millie, underwent extensive oral surgery and the waiting-on-the-vet-call was excruciating. At one point in the LONG wait I realized I had let fear control my thoughts. I had let my guard down. But then I reached for my sword of truth (my Bible) and the darkness faded immediately. The grip released. I remembered these truths: Millie was in competent human hands, God was there and could handle any outcomes, and I did not want fear to rule me. When I changed the channel to what I could bank on as true, fear lost.

We can defeat fears that bully their way into our thoughts and emotions. Let’s talk more next week about ways to counter fear as we wait.

For Deeper Reflection

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ . . . .”

Isaiah 41:10 “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.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

Let’s Talk

Fear in Turbulent Times

— by Dr. Helen McIntosh

Q. There’s so much fear and anxiety in our world. North Korea wants to bomb us, so many feel overwhelmed financially and more. How do we overcome this fear?

A. Let’s Talk! A contest years and years ago asked for paintings that illustrated peace. Many tranquil scenes were submitted as you would imagine, but the winner was a painting of a mother bird hovering over her nest of babies in the cleft of a rock behind a large and thunderous  waterfall. Yes, IN SPITE OF our circumstances, brave and resilient warriors seek peace!

There is another picture of birds – this time eagles – that will provide a visual of possibilities. A friend, Jeanne Carter, gave this as a devotional a few days ago:

  • Isaiah 40:31 says that, “We who wait upon the Lord will renew our strength; we will mount up with wings like eagles; we will run and not be weary; we will walk and not faint.” Concerning eagles’ nests: Have we considered that the feathers that have made our nest comfortable may have been fear, worry, anxiety . . . something familiar? Has the Lord shaken your nest? Jesus is trying to pluck things out of the nest and the sticks of life are poking us, making our nest less comfortable or familiar than it used to be. He is encouraging us to get out of the nest with Him into a free fall of total surrender, trusting in Him alone.

 It is God’s kind intention to help us navigate our fears, especially in turbulent times. He lovingly wants to deliver us and protect us. We have talked about reframing fear and anxiety in earlier posts (Reframing Fearful Thoughts, Fear, Control, and Letting Go) and asking God to speak to us very specifically about all that is “under” the issues. Another friend used to say, “It isn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the load under the straw!” What is under your straw? Can you give God your load? It is freedom and the flight path upwards.

We’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks. I would so welcome your sharing your personal loads/straws so I can address the more specific needs of your hearts. Will you? Let’s Talk! You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.