Staring Fear in the Face Part Three : Fixing Your Feet
This is the third and final part of our series on ‘Staring Fear in the Face’ where Hannah shares some wisdom gleaned from her own journey through fear and anxiety.
Fix your feet
By which I just mean, find some solid ground. Sure, a lot of things have changed. The ground beneath our feet is in many ways shaking. Some days it feels like there will be a world pre-corona and post-corona. But there are things you can still do to ground your feet, to sustain your soul. Work out what those things are. Dealing with fear and anxiety is a marathon, not a sprint. Invest in some good training practices now and they will pay off. Here are mine, for what it’s worth.
Breathe. Breathing has become something of a spiritual discipline for me. I try and practice this everyday. I basically try and slow my breathing down. Physiologically it makes sense as you’re trying to increase the oxygen in your body to take you out of a state of adrenalin and panic. You can find this technique here. The game changer for me has been combining this breathing with prayer. Very simply, as I breath in, I say ‘Abba‘ (which means ‘Daddy/Father’ in Aramaic, the words Jesus would have used) and then on the breath out, I say ‘I belong to you‘. I find it helps me be aware of God’s presence with me in the panic, like I’m speaking it over my body and spirit. **
Talk. Find somebody you can trust who will listen to you. Talk to them, out loud. Sometimes we can only access our pain (that lies underneath our fear) when we have a witness to it. Ask them just to sit and listen, not to ‘fix’ whatever you share, or rationalise it immediately (you can do that together afterwards.) If you don’t feel comfortable doing that with a person, try talking out loud to a chair, or writing a letter.
Thank. I continue to be surprised by how much an attitude of gratitude can change my day. It’s such a basic spiritual lesson you’d think I would have it nailed by now! But again and again I find myself coming up short, empty of appreciation, thinking only of what I don’t have. The witness of scripture shows us that God is a good God. He is! Covid-19 has not changed that. So we can still thank Him, we can still worship Him, we can still thank him for the mercies in our lives. So today, how could you celebrate the life you do have? Could you list the things you love, or you’re grateful for today? Emotionally healthy spirituality means that we can embrace both being ‘sorrowful yet always rejoicing’ at the same time (2 Cor 6.10). It is not just ok – it is right – that we do both.
Focus. Put your energy into the things you can be responsible for. All the helpful stuff you’ll already know about having a routine, doing exercise, finding time to do something that brings you life every day, putting clear boundaries around your consumption of the news and social media… This stuff can make a big difference. Take a look at your day and make a plan.
Try again. A while back, a lovely friend sent me a card. It said this: ‘Some days I amaze myself. Other days, I put my car keys in the fridge.’ After the eye roll and initial chuckle, I placed it on the shelf. I didn’t need the reassurance that day. But a week later when I, for various reasons, had a wobble, the card caught my eye again. ‘A fridge day,‘ I thought. That’s ok. Tomorrow is a new day.
Have a little grace for yourself. This is perhaps the most life-altering global circumstance you have seen in your lifetime. Some days you’ll amaze yourself. Other days, you’ll put your keys in the fridge. Fix your feet. I reckon that Peter, one of Jesus’ best friends, had a lot of fridge days. He went on to be a founding apostle for thousands of churches. He messed it up, he got stuff wrong, but God’s grace was sufficient for him – even in the middle of his fear. And so, I think, with you.
Feel your fear. Find your faith. Fix your feet.
And may God’s peace be with you.
Hannah Montgomery is wife to Tom, mother to Charlie and Grace, mentor, friend, leader… But most importantly, she is a woman who seeks to know personally the deep heart of God. Her pilgrimage into that deep heart of God has not always been easy, but along the way she has discovered some beautiful truths that provide nourishment to others on their journeys.
** If you would like to learn more about how to combine breathing and prayer, check out the ‘Toolshed’ at prayercourse.org and look for ‘Breath Prayer’.