I’m much better these days, but I once struggled with anxiety so severe that I’d go for days hardly sleeping. I remember reading some of the over 300 times God says in His Word not to fear. It bumped my fear up several more notches. I was afraid of being afraid.
Secondary disturbance occurs when we become disturbed, then disturbed about being disturbed–afraid, and then afraid of being afraid. There are two forms of secondary disturbance: Moral and pathological. Moral secondary disturbance says, “It’s wrong for you to be afraid. You’re a failure;” pathological says, “This fear will kill you. Order your coffin.” I think I had a little of both.
Counterintuitively, the first step in resolving primary fear is accepting it. Yep, I said that. In other words, address your secondary disturbance first. It forms something like a hard psychological shell cutting off access to your primary disturbance. Dissolve the shell, and gain free access.
So let’s resolve secondary disturbance: When God says not to fear, He does NOT say, “Don’t FEEL afraid.” You cannot control your feelings of fear directly any more than you can stop the sunrise. Accept those feelings as part of your humanity. They come from a mix of genetics, trauma history, learned behaviors, current circumstances, and bad habits. With God’s help, you can resolve trauma, and learn new ways of thinking and functioning, bringing more peace into your life.
Redirect your thoughts now to some safe things in your life. Do you have a favorite person, pet, or place? Take a moment and thank God out loud for three of the safe things in your life.
Let us pray. Dear God, You have called us to a life of courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to do what is right even though feeling afraid. You yourself know what fear is like, as you feared separation from God. But you gave Your life to save us; that is, to make us safe for eternity. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, God.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7