David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Fear”

Motivation and the Writing Life (Part 4 of 8)

FEAR IS THE MIND KILLER

So what holds you back? What are you afraid of? People are creatures of habit, slaves of fear. If we allow it, fear can and will rule over us, keeping us from breaking out of our comfort zones. If we venture too far into the realization of our dreams, fear will jump into our paths, growl at us, and bare its sharp teeth. And what do we do? We turn tail and crawl back into our self-imposed prisons of comfort. We’re satisfied to live out our lives within those confining walls because we hold ourselves bound by the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of lack, even the fear of success and the responsibility it brings with it.

I don’t remember exactly when I first read it, but the following quote by Marianne Williamson, spiritual author and lecturer, struck a chord in me that has resonated ever since. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”[i]

Two decades ago I lost my voice after developing a disease known as “spasmodic dysphonia,” a condition that lasted six grueling years (for those of you who listen to NPR, this is the same disease Diane Rehm suffers from). At that time I’d always wanted to learn how to speak better in public so I could teach, so despite my weak, tremulous voice (or maybe because of my determination to overcome this debilitating ailment), I joined Toastmasters International. I then began to conduct interviews for articles because the non-fiction material I was writing at the time had begun to sell. Then a junior college teacher asked me to teach a class on staying motivated as a writer. Despite sounding like a three-pack-a-day smoker, I stood in front of that room full of adults and delivered my talk. I refused to play small.

Each time I faced my fears—the fear of rejection by family and friends, the fear of talking and sounding like an incoherent idiot, the fear of public speaking, the fear of interviewing people—I grew. And over time I soundly trashed each one of those fears. Goethe once said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.” Overcoming those long-suffered fears was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, despite the years of pain and suffering. I learned that fears can indeed be overcome, that they can be defeated. Facing those fears head on and moving forward despite them taught me I can do anything I set my mind to, with God’s help and blessing. It’s the same with the fears I’ve had—and still have—about writing.

Even if no one else believes in your writing, believe in it yourself, because when it comes right down to it, that’s all that matters anyway. Joan Lowery Nixon said, “You must believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself and in your ability to succeed, then you can’t expect others to believe in you.”[ii] Why would they?

Frank Herbert wrote about fear in his novel Dune. “Fear is the mind-killer,” he said. And the life killer. And the dream killer.

Marty Goldbeck, a psychologist and former police officer, spoke about fear at the October 1995 Beaumont Golden Triangle Writers Guild conference in Beaumont, Texas. “The thing that weighs us down is our own self,” he said. “What are the limitations that keep us from writing?” Goldbeck also said there are two things determining whether or not we can achieve our dreams. The first is attitude. “If I choose to have a creative, good attitude, my life is limitless,” said Goldbeck. And the second is choice. It’s your choice, every moment of every day, to do the things you want to do. Like the old king said in the introduction to this discussion, the decision is up to you.

 

[i] Williamson, Marianne. A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”. New York. Harper Collins, 1992. 190.

[ii] http://chichikir.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/there-is-no-one-right-way-to-write/

 

 (Next up: Persistence and Determination Alone are Omnipotent)

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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Fear Not! (2014-10-07 Daily) [2 of 2]

After that day I dreaded driving when it was snowing, especially at night. The distress induced by trekking through that storm would manifest its full emotional fury whenever winter weather caught me on the road, twisting my stomach into knots. I lived through fear’s full-on attack in January 1985, and it took years for the effects of that experience to diminish and eventually disappear. I can truly say it changed my life.

“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is … fear itself,” Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his famous inaugural speech on March 4, 1933. “Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Advancing into a lake effect snowstorm is trivial compared to a newly-inaugurated president taking the reins of a suffering nation, but by God’s grace we both managed to steer our vehicles through fear’s onslaught and emerge on the other side victorious.

I am totally convinced that Satan and the evil forces of the spiritual realm are real because I’ve experienced his direct attacks, both mentally and physically. His demons literally crossed the line into my house one time, and it took a mighty spiritual counteroffensive to drive him out. After the release of The Epiphany of Joy, the devil ramped up his attacks against me and he’s been pummeling me ever since. He’s pissed off because my obedience to God’s command has added one more brick to the building of God’s Kingdom on earth. He’s furious because my stepping out in faith counteracted his campaign of doubt and helped open the door a little wider to the salvation of souls. He’s angry because I allowed the Spirit to direct my thoughts, words, and actions in this endeavor, and my surrender has reinforced my testimony, and my testimony is yet one more voice against the lies being perpetrated across the planet. I have no doubt in God’s divine plan for me, and I have no doubt in Satan’s plan of fear and defeat.  As Jesus assured in the Gospel of John, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV). I’ve resolved that the devil’s not taking me out. No way in hell.

While God provides His word, His rhema, as our sword, the devil’s weapon of choice is fear, and he uses his weapon skillfully and ruthlessly. After all, he’s got nothing left to lose. “Faith is the power God uses to create,” wrote Kenneth Copeland. “Fear is the power the devil uses to destroy.”[1] And destroy he will, with relish and to completion, if we let him.

As I mentioned in The Epiphany of Joy, one of the biggest fears I faced when I left my job and launched my full time writing career is lack—not having enough to pay the bills, losing our house, living in a cardboard box under a bridge. Fear pounced hard after my first royalty payments weren’t even enough to cover the electric bill. But time and again God has brought me around to the truth, and time and again He’s remained faithful to His promises. God cannot lie. Satan cannot tell the truth. So it comes down to a choice: who am I going to believe, God or the devil? The choice is obvious, but sometimes it’s a very hard decision to make.

It took over two years from when God commanded me to write The Epiphany of Joy to when I actually left my job to finish the book. In that time, both Mary and I fought mightily against the enemy’s whispers regarding financial provision. One afternoon Mary walked into my office, and we got into a discussion about the fear of not having enough money to make ends meet. As we talked and cried and prayed, I recalled something I’d recently heard.

“Jesus is my husband,” I assured her. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s Biblically accurate. As the church is the bride of Christ, and because I’m a member of the Body of Christ—the church—Jesus is therefore my bridegroom, my husband. As my own wife looks to me to provide her with security, I likewise look to Jesus for all of my provision. All of it. He is not only my Savior, He is my Lord, and as my Lord He is my Rock, my Security and my Provider. He is ever faithful to His promises and He cares for me deeply; there is nothing to fear—I can rely on that Truth until the day I die, and then some.

Seventy times the words “Do not be afraid” appear in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Seventy times God invites us to step out in faith, let go of fear, and put our total trust in Him. “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?” Jesus asked. “And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7 NKJV). I am valued, I am thought of, I am provided for.

But can I tell you something? Not a day goes by without worry or fear crossing my mind in some form or another. Some days the fear is strong, other days it’s just a passing thought. Some days the writing clicks along, my creativity explodes all over the computer screen, and my thoughts are as clear as the horizon after a passing cold front. Other days, especially lately, fear seems to crawl into bed with me first thing in the morning and cling to me as I try to churn out an essay, a blog post, a book chapter, or a curriculum. The worst days, though, are when fear germinates inside of me and tears me apart like the gastro alien in the classic movie. But I move forward despite the fear, because I know exactly what it is: a spiritual attack designed to knock me off my horse and trample me into ineffectiveness for the Kingdom of God. I know what Satan is up to, I know he’s already lost the war and I refuse to relent to his messed-up plans.

“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free,” said Robert Tew,[2] and there’s nothing like walking solidly in the will of God to set a person free. Doing what I’m doing has forced me to face my deepest and most persistent fears in the fight of my life.  And you know what?  I’m kicking the snot out of it.  When Mary and I took the final step into this new lifestyle over a year ago, we told God flat out we were ready to let go of everything, including the house.  Now that was scary!  But we’re standing on God’s promises of provision, wisdom, courage, and joy. “… seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” Jesus commanded, “and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV).  This life was meant to be an adventure, a joy-filled journey met head on, a gift of experience to be lived out courageously, squarely planted in God’s palm. Even if we have to drive through a blizzard to achieve it.

I would like to leave you with a prayer by Thomas Merton from Thoughts in Solitude. Be blessed and fear not, for God is with you. Always.

 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.[3]

 

[1] Copeland, Kenneth. “Fear or Faith: The Choice is Yours.” kcm.org. 1997-2014. Kenneth Copeland Ministries. 2 October 2014. http://www.kcm.org/real-help/article/fear-or-faith-choice-yours

[2] Tew, Robert. goodreads.com. 2014. Goodreads, Inc. 2 October 2014. https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=Robert+Tew&search%5Bsource%5D=goodreads&search_type=quotes&tab=quotes

[3] Merton, Thomas. Thoughts in Solitude. 1956. Wikiquote. 27 June 2014. Wikimedia Foundation. 3 October 2014. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thomas_Merton

 

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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