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Why Do We Get So Afraid?
"What is there for me to be so afraid of? If God is God and I am his and he loves me, I don't have anything to be afraid of." — Natalie Abbott

Why do we get so afraid? And what is our first response when we feel fear? Join Vera Schmitz and Natalie Abbott, sisters and co-founders of Dwell Differently, as they talk all about fear—their irrational fears, their real fears, and where fearfulness is actually rooted. They look at two responses to fear, and share Scripture passages that have been helpful when they experience fear and anxiety. There is hope to be found today, right in the middle of our battles against fear, as we remember who God is!


 “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” — Psalm 27:1


Last week's episode, Be Strong and Take Courage // Jamie Ivey

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT: Natalie: Hey, welcome back to the Dwell Differently podcast. It's your host, Natalie Abbott. Vera: and Vera Schmitz. Natalie: Oh yeah. Here we are again. How you doing lady? Vera: I'm doing great. I'm so pumped to talk about this verse. (READ MORE)

Vera: There's a song  my church sings that uses the words in this verse. And it's fantastic and I actually hum it quite a bit.

Natalie: You're going to  have to forward me that song. Maybe you need to put that in the All Good Things email. For those of you that don't get the All Good Things email, I have to say I was a naysayer about it. I was like, “Psh, we don't need another email." And I love that email.

Vera: There's a tiny little kicking picture of me that is a gif that I'm like kicking my leg. Anyway, one of my friends used it in a text message stream the other day as a celebratory gif and I was like, “Oh my gosh. Thank you for pulling that from All Good Things.” But no, it's a fun email. It's got silly stuff in it. It's got important stuff in it. It's kind of like a little punch in your inbox.

Natalie: Yeah, well you just need to put that song in there so that we can listen to it because now I want to hear it. How come you haven't shared it before? Rude. Just rude.

Vera: Anyway, the verse is, “the LORD is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” It comes from Psalm 27:1. It is fire.

Natalie: It is fire. God is my light. God is my salvation. God is the stronghold of my life, and therefore, Who should I be afraid of?

Okay, before we get started diving into the real, real meaning of this, first I have to ask you, Vera, "Do you have any weird, irrational fears?"

Vera: A hundred percent.

Natalie: Okay. Okay. I can't wait to hear this because I feel like I have a litany of things that I would say, but I want to know what you would say.

Vera: I don't think it's irrational. That's how strong the fear is that maybe other people would call it irrational. I think I'm totally irrational, but I'm like [00:02:00] legit afraid of snakes.

Natalie: I feel like that is not irrational at all.

Vera: It isn't, except that I feel that fear in situations where I shouldn't fear it. Do you know what I mean? Like if I'm out in the woods and I'm on a hike, like, yeah, keep your wits about you. There might be a snake and I for sure do. I mean, every third thought and when I'm hiking is like, “Is there a snake there? Oh, is that a snake? No, it's not a snake. Okay, keep going. What's under that rock? Oh, it's a cleft rock. Be careful there might be a snake lurking in the dark.” Like I, legit, I'm afraid. So in a situation where there might be a snake, I'm on heightened awareness. However, in situations where I shouldn't be that concerned about a snake sitting on my deck or on my front porch there's this low key buzz going on of like, there might be a snake in your bush.

Natalie: There's a snake in my boot.

Vera: Exactly. And maybe this is why it's also irrational last summer, um, this is a terrible confession. Matt was outside, doing lawn and work and stuff, and I was inside, and the screen door was closed and I went to the screen door because Isaiah - my, at the time, five year old, was calling for me.

He's like, “Mom, Mom, Mom, come here, come here, come here!” So I open up the screen door and I walk out on the deck and there's a snake. He's like, Mmom, look, it's a snake!” And what do I do? I legit get back in the house and shut the door on him. I left him out there with a snake, and I'm yelling for Matt, like, “There's a snake! There's a snake!” Total self-preservation. I was the worst mom ever in that moment. But yes, that is irrational, like, it's, it's rational, but it's, it's actually pretty irrational.

Natalie: I feel that for you. I'm sorry. So I also have an irrational fear. I have a couple I would say, but this one is pretty debilitating at times for me. I'm afraid of [00:04:00] enclosed, really tight spaces, especially places without windows.

So actually my podcast recording closet, I only come in here to record because there's no windows and it's in the basement and it makes me feel like the whole house is going to crash on me. But we used to have this closet when we lived in Chicago, and it was under the stairs, like a Harry Potter closet. It was a closet that kind of went way deep back and it was actually a closet within another closet.

Vera: I'm actually starting to get claustrophobic just listening to you talk about this.

Natalie: Maybe I shouldn't explain it because there are those of who are claustrophobic. I'm a five outta 10 right now on an irrational fear scale and feeling a little bit anxious, especially cuz I'm recording this in a closet.

Uh, but I could not go in there without feeling like the whole house was gonna come crumbling down on me. And I would have these panic moments anytime I went into that closet. So I ended up starting to make my kids go in and I mean, they'd be, they would like to pull a bin out. I'm like, Nope, that's not the bin. Go back. Like, I just couldn't,

Vera: Hey, look at us sacrificing our children to our fears. Both of us.

Natalie: We are terrible parents, but it was just like, I just could not get myself to go into that closet. It was really, really hard for me to do that. Anyway, I think we have these irrational fears, all of us, these weird things. Sometimes I think, my irrational fears show up in my dreams a lot of times. Like if I have a weird nightmare, it always includes something of an irrational fear. I am always on a stage and I haven't memorized my lines. Or that sort of thing. It's like that insecurity, sometimes based in your childhood, I feel like, like you had some kind of experience.

Vera: Yeah. Mine is always that I'm failing. I'm failing something. It's like I'm stepping onto the floor to do my gymnastics routine and I forgot that I needed to learn the routine or it's the last day and I realized I didn't ever go to that class. So it's terrible, like you're gonna fail, which is probably my deep thing that I always have [00:06:00] struggled with, is like trying to be perfect.

Natalie: Okay, so let's talk about our real deep fears then, because I think that there is a reflection sometimes in our irrational fears that we're like, I know I shouldn't be afraid of that, but something about us as humans makes us fearful, right? Why do we get so afraid? What is it about us as people that we're afraid of?

Vera: I mean, I think for myself, it's always rooted in the lack of trusting God. It's as soon as I start to rely on myself. And my resources. I stop trusting in the one who holds everything and who has time in his hand and is above everything and can see everything and is doing things for my good and all of that. Fear comes when I stop focusing on God. And his strength and his power and his love and care for me.

Natalie: Yeah, I would say, similarly, what makes me feel afraid is that I know that I am capable of failure. I know that I am not in control. I have this kind of facade going all the time where I believe that everything is gonna be fine and I'm in control and it's okay and whatever. But deep down, there's always a part of me that's like, “What if everything falls apart? Like, what if everything fails? What if the worst case scenario happens?” And I think our fearfulness is rooted in truth. You know, like the reason that we are afraid as humans is because there's a lot to be afraid of. There's a lot that we don't control. I think you're right, Vera, that if there is a God and if he has spoken and he does love us and he has sent his son to die for us, and that he succeeded in every area where we fail, that he gives life even out of death, that all of the possible fears that we could [00:08:00] have they don't have any power over us. In Christ, then, you know, when we're trusting in him, then we don't have any reason to be afraid. But, we do have these fears.

There are two responses then I think that we can have to our fears. There's the response of faithlessness. Like what you said, like when I'm afraid it's because I'm really not trusting in God.

Or there's the response of faithfulness, of trusting that God is over all of these things and above all of these things. So let's look first at that. Typically for me, like a knee-jerk response when something is bothering me or something that I'm afraid of, like where do I typically go with that fear?

 And then let's look at what this verse is teaching us that we can do with our fear.

Vera: Yeah. You know what's interesting for me? I've noticed this over the years. I tend to really trust God when it's something huge. If I have a huge fear, It's something that really is keeping me up at night.

I fully rely on God. I know I can't do it. So I'm like, “Okay, God, I need your help.” And I rely on him and I'm able to relinquish that control and really trust in him to be my stronghold . When it is a smaller fear, one that is just kind of under the surface, one that I think maybe I can control, I will keep it. I will let it fester. I will harbor all of that like tension out of self-reliance. Do you do that?

Natalie: Okay, so for those of you who are familiar with Enneagram, I'm a nine, which means I am the most self unaware personality type. Uh, so a lot of times I am not aware of my fear. I like have that weird kind of feeling of tension in my body. And it's like don't pay attention to that. Don't pay attention. You know, like, don't go there. I'm the person who doesn't go there with my [00:10:00] fear most of the time. In fact, in the blog post for the first of the month, I actually talk about how I discovered that I have this fear that we're gonna financially fail.

And it was only because I blurted out to my husband. In the midst of him saying like, “Every time you do the bills, you're really grumpy, and you kind of snap at me.” And I'm like, “Well, it's just because I'm afraid we're not gonna have enough money!” And I'm like, “Oh, wait a minute. I am afraid that we're not gonna have enough money.”

So I typically stuff my fears, but then when I discover my fears, it's like, a process for me. It is deeply drawn out, like I discovered this about myself probably a month and a half ago, and I'm still talking to Jesus about it. It's like I struggle to fully recognize it still.

I wanna get rid of that fear. I want to be able to pay my bills without feeling anxious the whole time. But I struggle to figure out how to do that. And it's almost like I wanna ignore it. Like I know it's there now, and now I actually do want to ignore it.

Before it was like I was unaware and I was ignoring it in a kind of mentally unaware state, but now it's like I'm actually actively ignoring it, so. That's what I do with my fear. I ignore it. Yeah.

Vera: So in the last month and a half then, what has been effective for you to face that? Because for me, I'm the opposite. I'm always aware. So when I feel that fear, lately- and I've been talking about this in All Good Things- here's another All Good Things plug, I've been really praying the Lord's Prayer and I've been praying specifically one for my daily bread.

So if I'm feeling anxious or afraid of something, I'm praying for my daily bread for that thing. Like, “God, I feel like I don't have an abundance here. I actually believe I have [00:12:00] nothing. Will you give me everything I need?” and then when I pray and lead us not into temptation, I'm praying, then help me to not be tempted to go back to this mindset.

Yeah. My temptation is to come back and to say, I don't have enough. I'm not like, it's, it's gonna be terrible, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever the, the lie is and the fear that I'm like holding onto. So it's like, okay, God, give me my daily bread, but now help me to not be tempted. Lead us not into temptation.

Natalie: Yeah, I think that's really good. God is always so good to help me through whatever it is I'm struggling with through his word. And so as I've been thinking about this verse and spending time in it and writing about it, honestly, I think you could go through any possible verse and I would discover some way that I'm failing at it.

But, this particular verse and this particular moment in my life has been really helpful because I have been trying to be more confessional. When I'm getting ready to pay a bill or when I get off the phone with somebody— for example,  I just found out we have a huge medical bill. My daughter had appendicitis and I'm like, “Ph, wow, that's a lot.” My first response was anxiety, like, “Oh, are we gonna have enough money to cover that? And that's a lot, and, you know, blah, blah, blah.” And then what I went to instead, because I'm trying to be more self-aware with my fear, is to actually confess to the Lord—I am sinning against you in this, I am not trusting you. Not trusting that you are going to provide for my family like you have always provided for my family. And so just that confessional it actually is this release for me of me saying the thing that I'm feeling out loud to him. It's like a chain reaction then. It engages my ability to think about it rightly and say, “That's a [00:14:00] ridiculous fear. You're being anxious about something that you don't need to be anxious about.” Honestly, we were on a youth pastor's salary, one income with five kids forever. He just provided every possible thing. And now we're on two incomes and we still have five kids. I should have been more afraid then, you know what I mean? And so I can look back on those times when he just provided everything that we needed. And so I do, I recount to him, “God, in all of these ways, you have been faithful. I trust that you will be faithful to me in the future forever with all of these things.”

Vera: Isn't he so good to bring it to our awareness when he does?

Natalie: Yes. I needed this. I needed to stop feeling anxious every time I paid the bills.

Vera: Exactly. And then the thing that just kept coming to mind when you were talking is the verse out of Romans 12:2—

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And that's what you're doing when you are in the Word and you're reading it, you can be transformed . I can be transformed. Whatever our leaning is, you know, these personality tests and all of that, we all have these particular leanings and, and particular sin patterns or thought patterns. It's like that is true to some degree, but we can also be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Natalie: Yeah. Just, the other day as I was thinking through this, I've been trying to memorize Psalm 19, and in that there are two things that David says. He says, keep me from willful sins, like sins that I intentionally commit. And then he also says, keep me from sins that I'm unaware of. And it was like, as I was feeling that anxiety, that verse came to my mind of like, keep me even from sinning against you in my unaware state of heart. Like you said, it's such a blessing when God reveals that to me so that I can trust him and I can [00:16:00] overcome that fear, right? Because I'm never going to overcome that fear if I'm not aware of it. And God wants me to overcome that fear by trusting in him because he is God and I am in Christ, and therefore I have nothing to be afraid of. Like the Psalmist says in Psalm 27, “Of whom shall I be afraid?” What is there for me to be so afraid of? If God is God and I am his and he loves me, I don't have anything to be afraid of.

Vera: That's right. That's so good.

Natalie: So, one last question for us then. Do you have any person in your life who helps you remember these things?

Vera: It makes me think of my kids, you know? They get afraid of things—that are irrational monsters in their closet or something under their bed, or what was that sound? They can't sleep. And I have the privilege of knowing more than them, and I get to say to them, “There's no monster under your bed.” I don't even know where that comes from? First of all, why do kids always think there's a monster under there? But I get to lead them as a shepherd in a sense, and to say to them, “I know more than you do. There's no monster under there.” And so I think as adults, a lot of times we don't have that person who is just ahead of us who is saying, “Hey, there's no monster in there, Vera.” Our other sister oftentimes used to say to me when I was a bit younger, “Vera Beth, whenever you think it's the end of the world, it's never once been the end of the world. Never once. You've thought it's gonna be the end of the world many a time. But still the world is spinning.” And I think about that often. I remember her encouragement to let it roll. I think just asking yourself that question, and I do have those people who remind me, like especially my husband, [00:18:00] he's very good.

Like I just straight up call him when I'm afraid I just call him at work and I'm like, “Listen bro, I'm gonna need some prayer cuz. I need you to pray. This is my fear. I know this isn't true. I already even feel better now saying it out loud.” That's the first thing for me. As soon as I say it out loud, I'm like, “Whew.”

I confess it to somebody else, typically Matt or one of my close friends, and then I ask for prayer and that is just a routine that I have to be in. I think that's a really good question— Who are you bringing this to the light with? Because if you are bearing it yourself, that's a lot. You don't have to do that.

Natalie: You don't have to do that. That's a great message for us. I think sometimes we're so embarrassed by the things that we're afraid of that it seems ridiculous to us to say it out loud. But when we say it out loud, that’s when we find that freedom to be like, “Oh, I shouldn't be afraid of that.” It's that exposure. Like when we bring things into the light, like you said, it really exposes them for what they truly are. And it allows us to tackle it in a different way and, and honestly, like I would say too, we didn't talk a whole lot specifically about our verse. I talked a lot about this verse in the teaching episode and then in the episode last week with Jamie Ivey about each of these true things about God and who he is, specifically, that God is our light, that God is our salvation, and that God is our stronghold or our safe place. So if you want to go back and listen to either of those episodes, you're going to find even more depth and more kind of practical advice on how to overcome your fears by specifically claiming the true things about God.

Vera: Are you saying that I'm not deep? You're saying I'm not deep.

Natalie: No, I intentionally didn't talk through those things because we already talked about it.

Vera: I'm just messing.

Natalie: I know. [00:20:00] Stop. Geez, geez. Everybody's listening and you're just making fun of me. These are real things that we can do when we tell God who he is, when we claim that truth, when we have somebody in our life that we confess our fears to, and we allow them to speak that truth into us.

I'm sure when you call Matt and you're afraid Matt is giving you God's truth back. And reminding you of what God has done and reminding you of who he is and how he loves you. We need people like that in our lives. And we also need God's Word in our life to give us that foundational thing, especially when we wake up at 2:00 am and we don't wanna roll over and wake up our husband, or we don't want to call our best friend on the phone or whatever.

God's truth is always with us. And, this specific verse, I hope as we are memorizing it this month, would really give us this arsenal. When we wake up and we're afraid, or when we feel like there's nothing that we can do or say that the LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold or the safe place of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? And that goes for not just whom or whom, but also for all of the things that we can be afraid of. There's nothing that anyone or anything can do to separate us from the love of Christ. So, I hope that this verse is an encouragement to you this month.

Vera, thanks for chatting with me about it today. And, I just have to tell you as we close that, as we were opening our pool a couple weeks ago, there were two snakes in my pool.

Vera: Nope. Nope.

Natalie: I'm not really particularly afraid of snakes, but I don't love snakes either. I just literally walked away and screamed for a second, and then I had to come back and take him out of the pool.

Vera: We're gonna close with this. There's a reason why Satan is a serpent. There's a reason. That's all I'm gonna say. That's all I'm saying. [00:22:00]

Natalie: There is definitely some enmity between the man and or the snake and the woman. So it's real. It's real people. It's real. All right. Thanks for joining me, Vera. Thanks for listening in. We'll be back next week, just kind of chatting through some last closing remarks about this first. We'll see you then.

Dwell Blog/Podcast Featured Content

Vera Schmitz and Natalie Abbott

Vera and Natalie are sisters and co-founders of Dwell. Together they create the images and content that help you memorize and meditate on one verse every month.

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