Three signs fear is running your life and how to overcome it

I am well acquainted with fear.

As a girl, I watched my dad battle cancer and will never forget the fear that word – cancer – struck in my family. So when I heard it again years later, but in regards to my own health, the suffocating effect of fear struck again.

I also see fear in the eyes of every girl who’s a victim of human trafficking, fear that often lasts long after their rescue due to the immense, unspeakable trauma they’ve experienced. Part of the work we do at A21 is to care for these girls and equip them for lives after trafficking, including the emotional and spiritual healing that is necessary to overcome that level of fear.

Throughout my years in ministry, I’ve seen friends, family and complete strangers paralyzed by fear, as they are faced with the unexpected, plans went awfully awry or received news they never wanted to hear.

When I found out I had cancer, I could feel fear setting in, trying to grip me like it naturally does, but I knew I couldn’t let it overwhelm me. I had a choice – walk in fear, or walk in faith.

And if we’re not careful, it’s easy to succumb to fear and let it run our lives. Here are three signs that fear might be running yours:

1. It’s overwhelmed you.

Are you constantly worrying about your circumstances? Are you overwhelmed by thoughts of what could happen? Do you find yourself having a hard time focusing on anything other than what it is you’re afraid of?

When I found out I had cancer, I could feel fear setting in, trying to grip me like it naturally does, but I knew I couldn’t let it overwhelm me. I had a choice – walk in fear, or walk in faith. It was faith that had always propelled me forward through my circumstances in the past, so I chose my faith in that situation. The fear didn’t go away, but I knew that being tempted with fear wasn’t the same as giving into it – and not giving into it was the only way I could overcome its grip.

2. You’re dwelling on the negative.

The internet is perhaps one of the devil’s strongest tool when it comes to fear. You might start the day out with a sore throat, but after 20 minutes online, you’re dying of a terrible disease that you’ve likely passed down to your children through genetics. People who let fear run their lives have a tendency to dwell on the negative – to seek it out, worry about it, and speak negatively of their circumstances.

In order to overcome the fear you’re facing, you must consciously work to keep negative influences, words and emotions at bay. You can do this by bringing others along you on your journey to hold you accountable, choosing friends who will speak faith to you in the face of fear, and by offering God your worship and praise, even when it seems counterintuitive to do so.

3. You’ve lost your focus.

We’ve each been put on this earth to fulfill a purpose. We each have something that makes us come alive, that fully utilizes the gifts and talents given to us by our Creator. If you’ve stopped doing that thing or are delaying it because of your circumstances, fear is running your life.

The enemy wants to derail our lives from the plans and purposes of God – if not for a lifetime, then at least for a season. He wants to pull our focus away from God’s promises and divert it to our crisis. He wants to paralyze us in the present and veil our vision and hope for our future.

At the threshold of every challenge – of every new opportunity for growth – the enemy will send a spirit of fear. I know firsthand the power of fear to intimidate, paralyze and debilitate. But we know God doesn’t send fear. Instead, he equips us to resist fear by trusting him.

Trust in God – trust in his promises, in his goodness. Allow God to work in you and through you, despite the situation you’re facing. Confronting fear never ends, but being controlled by fear can end.

Christine Caine is the founder of A21, an international anti-human trafficking organization, and Propel, a women’s organization dedicated to helping women realize their purpose, passion and potential. She is the author of seven books, including her most recent, “Unexpected: Leave Fear Behind, Move Forward in Faith, Embrace the Adventure.”