Satan's Greatest Tool (And How You're Using it)
A few months ago we were asked to perform for a HUGE event. We were definitely excited to be asked, but we were also terrified. We began to wonder if we were really ready for this, or if this was the right time to take this on. What if we bombed it? What if we forgot the lyrics, or tripped on sound cords, or had major technical difficulties? What if we were never invited back? We had a long conversation and actually considered turning the event down.
And then I realized something.
Each of our reasons for saying "no" were driven by one thing: FEAR. Fear of failing, fear of embarrassment, fear of disappointment.
I brought this up and it completely changed the way we saw the event. We decided to say yes to the invitation. And as soon as we did, our fear was replaced with peace. Sure, we knew might still face failure, embarrassment, disappointment--but those things no longer scared us. Once we put fear in its place, we were filled with confidence and courage to tackle the challenge. We almost lost an amazing opportunity because of fear.
That day I was reminded of something:
GOD DOESN’T SPEAK THROUGH FEAR.
And what a clever trick it is! All he does is place fear in our minds- and then WE take over. We create the images, the play-by-play, and the conversations that feed that fear. Satan just sits back and watches as his one, tiny little playing piece results in a domino effect. I’m sure he laughs as we personally destroy our own goals, dreams, aspirations, and inspirations. It’s really quite cunning.
So how do we beat fear? How do we stop using Satan’s tool against ourselves? Having been in many situations that require me to fight fear, I’ve come up with a few tips.
1) Recognize that fear is not real.
My daughter is deathly afraid of sharks. More specifically, she’s convinced a shark will come wiggling out of the shower drain and that will be the end of her. On one particular day, she was crying about the images she placed in her head. So we came up with a plan. Each time she imagined the shark coming through the drain, I told her to put a clown nose on him, a huge floral hat, and fake, nubby teeth. I could see it working in her mind right away, and immediately her tears turned to a belly laugh. Since then, I can sporadically hear her laughing in the shower, and I have to smile, because I know why.
She was fearing something that wasn’t real. And once she realized that it was easier to overcome. Once we set our minds to it, we can combat that feeling with something that IS real. Faith dispels Fear. Light dispels Darkness. You get the picture. It only exists if we allow it to.
I have a friend who used to be terrified that one of her children would die. Sometimes the fear felt very stifling to her and she got tired of carrying around that worry and stress. One day, as she was praying, she realized that her fear was NOT REAL. She said to me, "I realize that yes, one of my children may die, but I have the faith that God will help me through that trial WHEN AND IF it comes. I would rather hold on to that faith than the crippling fear of 'what if.'"
'What if' IS NOT REAL.
Fear IS NOT REAL.
2) Prepare for the worst, but IMAGINE THE BEST.
My son is...cautious. Last year we took our family to Disneyland, and convincing him to go on rides was painful. Finally, after fighting over several attractions, I asked him, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” He thought for a moment and said, “I might not like it.” (Uh, OK.) I then asked him, “And what’s the best thing that could happen?” He shrugged and said, “I might love it.” It seemed to click in him that even if it ends up being worst case scenario, he would live to tell the tale.
So ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You might fail. You might be embarrassed. You might get hurt. Those are all things no one wants to throw themselves into, but heaven knows millions of people have experienced the same. And more often than not, you’ll learn valuable lessons along the way. Then ask yourself, “What’s the BEST thing that could happen?” Imagine that. Because there’s a chance that scenario will actually happen. (Case in point--my son loved every ride.)
You MIGHT fall in love with the city you just moved to! Your new step kids MIGHT adore you! Your book MIGHT be published!
Hold on to the hope of the best case scenario, and have faith God will help you through the worst.
3) Remember no one is asking you to be the best.
Have you ever wanted to start a blog, make a career change, learn to sing, or write a book? Have you ever been asked to do something that terrifies you? What's stopping you?
Many times we hesitate to take on new experiences because we fear we won’t be the best. (This is actually the one I struggle with the most.) But here’s the thing--you will ALWAYS find somebody who is better at (fill in the blank) than you are. You WON'T be the best.
There may be someone who doesn't need the best, but who just needs YOU--your example, your stories, your perception. Sometimes we receive inspiration or opportunity to do something scary, simply because by doing so, we’re blessing the life of someone else. You may not have the chance to change the world, but we will all have a chance to change a life. And to a Heavenly Father who so loves us individually, that's just as important.
I once heard President Thomas S. Monson say he wanted to live in a way so that when the Lord needed something done, He could count on “Tom Monson” to do it. I would love to live by the same precept. The Lord will use us to do His work, if we let Him. He will teach us lessons, if we let Him. He will grant us peace, insight, and joy, if we let Him.
So let go of your fear and let Him bless you.