“I truly believe every single one of us struggles with some type of fear,” says author/speaker Angie Smith, “whether it’s fear of flying or fear of being ‘found out.’ Maybe you don’t worry about dying, but you get sick thinking about the fact that you might fail.”
Admitting that “fear is a major part of my testimony,” Angie talks openly about her struggles, blending her own experiences with those of men and women from Scripture to help us start dealing more effectively with these true, human emotions.
Sheila Walsh writes, “In What Women Fear Angie holds up a mirror so that we can see ourselves from every angle, the thoughts we display on the front shelves of our lives and those we hide. The greatest gift tucked into this book is the overwhelming picture of the mercy of our God who understands our fears and invites us to stand beside Him in the rain and let His love wash us clean.”
A Conversation with Angie Smith
WoF: Why did you decide to write a book about fear?
Angie: It has just been such a stronghold in my life for so many years and the more I talked to women about it, the more I felt like it would be good to do. It was really cheap therapy for me!!! I loved digging into Scripture and trying to understand God’s heart for me in a different way. I got so much out of the experience.
WoF: Do you think there’s a universal fear all women share, or is it more variations on a theme?
Angie: I think that everyone struggles with fear in some way, although some people don’t recognize it. For example, one of the fears I wrote about was the fear of “being found out.” It’s not your typical, bump-in-the-night kind of fear, but more of an internal struggle that exists. Another example is the fear of being rejected. I feel like there are so many things that actually do fit into the category of fear but that most people don’t normally associate with the word “fear.”
WoF: Why are we so reluctant to admit that we’re afraid?
Angie: We are reluctant to admit anything that expresses a lack of control, I think. Fear always comes from areas where we don’t feel like we have control, so it’s a natural struggle. Many people believe it shows weakness, or even worse, lack of faith in God. Ouch. I had to do some serious soul-searching to get past that last one. I have beat myself up for years because I felt like a failure in this area. I think a lot of people would say the same. Studying the Word of God on the matter really freed me up to understand it differently.
WoF: You make a fascinating connection between regret and fear. Tell us about “the panic that I have done more damage than can be repaired” and what we can do about it.
Angie: Again, we don’t have any control over what has happened in the past, so it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “what could have been” trap. In my own life, this could have swallowed me alive if I had let it. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way, and I am so grateful that the Lord chose people who were average, run-of-the-mill mess-ups to be in His love story. It takes the load off a little!
WoF: Share a little bit about the “fear of the Lord” and what that means to you.
Angie: It’s good (and necessary) to fear the Lord. It isn’t because He’s scary, but because He is sovereign. In feeling the weight of your position with regard to Him, you should be aware of who He is. We fear Him in the sense that we are reverent and recognize His power. It gives me a peace I can’t describe, because at the end of the day it reminds me that I’m safe with the One who works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Incredible…
WoF: You’ve been speaking at Women of Faith events for a while now, and (hooray!) you’ll be back with us this fall. Is it still just as scary as when you began? What keeps you coming back?
Angie: A paycheck? No, actually that’s the icing on the cake. I would say it’s scary. Really scary. But fear isn’t always bad…it can push you right into the place where you have to rely only on Him. So the fear gets swallowed by love, and it’s only He who can manage that exchange. I love connecting with the women there and really feeling like I have genuine relationship with them. We’re all in the same boat, and it’s nice to realize you aren’t alone in there.
WoF: Any final words for our readers?
Angie: Ummm, not that I can think of. It’s probably because I hate goodbyes. So I just say “see you later!” And here’s another chance for me to do that. Not because I’m a control freak or anything…
An Excerpt from What Women Fear
In my mind’s eye I see a woman teetering on a tightrope, holding a long pole as she tries to balance herself in light of the truth of God. It takes concentration, it takes work, and it takes a whole lot of faith. Some of us are currently tipped so far in the wrong direction that we don’t know if we will be able to right ourselves, and others are walking with arms outstretched while their feet confidently move one in front of the other. As life goes on, we will probably experience both, and what we will find is that it is always changing. Situations come up and cause us to tip a little, and we cry out in fear. We often feel like just as we get it figured out, the wire begins to shake and we have to adjust it all over again.
We (mistakenly) believe that at some point we are going to find the solution, learn how to balance the pole exactly right in every moment so that we don’t ever tremble anymore. We think we can overcome it so that it never rears its head again, and that the rest of our days will be smooth sailing. I don’t believe there is such a thing, and the more we focus our attention on the rope, the less we focus on the pole in our hands. It isn’t like there is one solution that will erase all our fears, one way to do it, one single thing that will take it away and make it simple. That’s not how God designed us.
I have heard it said that God is like the net in this example; that He will catch us if we fall, that He is our safe place, that we need not fear because we always have that waiting if things get bad enough. I don’t disagree, but I think that many of us have put our emphasis on the net rather than the pole in our hands. We have access to Him here, in the moment, in every situation that arises. The more we tap into a life balanced by Christ, grounded in knowing Him and His Word, the less we have to worry about falling off. it’s still scary up here, no question, but if we can get a firm grip on that which steadies us, it will look different.
Have you been living life with Jesus as the net? I know for many seasons of life, I have. He’s there if I really need him, but at this moment I just need to figure out how to get myself straightened and keep moving.
Balance. I think it’s more about that than anything else. What are we depending on when we start to tip? How do we develop the kind of thinking that steadies us? Why do we react the way we do when the rope shakes and the wind comes from nowhere? We all want to live lives that rely on the power of Christ, but we don’t necessarily know how to get to the point where we are doing that. my prayer is that as we work through some of the major categories of fear and dig deep into our own experiences, we will see that there are patterns in our thinking that have thrown us off balance. As I read through Scripture I was so blessed by studying the questions God asks in His Word, and doubly blessed at the responses of His servants. Daily now, I hear those questions at the heart of my fears, and before I am tempted to believe I am never going to take another step, I answer them in my heart and with my actions. I am better prepared when life comes at me and I rely on armor I never turned to before.
What did they fear? What did He ask? How did they answer?
How do we?
Excerpted from What Women Fear, Copyright © 2011 by Angie Smith. Published by B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.