I've been afraid of birds most of my life. A colorful parakeet didn't stay on its perch in the pet store when I was little, and it resulted in a traumatic event. Throughout my life, my fear of birds has become a "fun" fact people learn about me. But a few years ago, God revealed something about my bird phobia to me: I was proud of it.
I was comfortable being defined by my fear. Being scared of birds made me different and unique, and it came with a funny story to tell. My fear was fueling me, and I liked it.
Fearing birds had become a part of my identity, and although it stood in the way of total freedom, I didn't mind. But as my inner healing journey progressed and I surrendered everything to God, He led me to a place I'd sworn I'd never, ever go: into a bird cage.
When we think about about a topic like fear, usually we want encouragement on facing our fears, or turning fear into faith. And while these are important topics and steps along a spiritual journey, how often do we stop and ask ourselves if we're actually proud of what makes us afraid?
I'm not talking about the knee-jerk emotional reaction of fear to things that catch us off guard and startle us. I mean, there's justified reasons people who encountered angels in the Bible were quickly told, "Do not be afraid." Fear of violence, monsters and death is also a very real thing. But some of our fears are less warranted and much less scary.
We can stir up attention by fearing what other people think. We're afraid of the stock market, interest rates and other financial interests yet secretly proud that we're making money. We fear our kids' futures, yet it's really a source of proud parenting. We all have "birds" in our lives: things that make us unsettled and afraid, yet also give us a sense of identity.
True surrender and putting our full faith in God asks us to rid ourselves of pride, which includes facing the fears holding us back, or deciding to stop worrying about things we cannot control. It's a mature step to take, and sometimes a hard decision. But it's one God honors as we let go.
Prayer: Father, help me not only identify my fears, but show me if I've built up any pride or a false identity with them. Help me face what scares me, and give me courage and comfort as I surrender. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10, NKJV
This devotional first appeared in the Monday Morning Survival Guide. Subscribe to get next Monday's devotional emailed to you.
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Thanks for your devotional on pride associated with fear. Never thought of that. I’ve been terribly claustrophobic my whole life. It can be very complicated at times, not being able to get on elevators. I hate it. Thank you for a new way to approach it. I’m going to work and pray on this.
Wow, thanks for sharing that comment! I am glad it resonated with you. I’m still working through my fear of birds, I don’t love them but it was helpful to consider the idea of facing it. Prayers for you as you work through it!