Being told to be 'fearless' is a lot of pressure. Fearless means, "free from fear" or "brave." I think that "free from fear" and "brave" are completely different.
Perhaps you have heard people say, "The Bible tells us over 350 times to not fear, so just don't fear!" While, yes, the Bible does tell us repeatedly to not fear, have you ever wondered why it mentions it so many times?
Here's what I have concluded: Fearless is different than fearing less. For years, I thought that because I struggled with fear in one area, that it meant I am a fearful person in all areas. As in, I constantly, in every situation, struggle with fear. Well, that's ridiculous.
Let's go to the Bible. In the Old Testament, when God tells people like Abram, Jacob, Moses, the Israelites, Joshua, Gideon, Eleazar, and many others to not fear, it was in particular situations. Meaning, they had situational fear. Meaning, in that situation God was telling them to not be afraid because He was with them.
I have always put so much pressure on myself to live a "fearless life." And, I failed every single day.
Thankfully, I don't have to define myself any longer as a fearful person. Yes, there are situations in which I have fear, but that doesn't mean that I have to live my life in fear. I need to start fine-tuning what my situational fears are. For example, I have a fear of men. That is a broad stroke statement that has kept me in chains for a long time. A more accurate description would be "I am afraid of being hurt by men." And, broken down even further than that would be, "I am alone with a guy that I don't know very well, and I am afraid that he might hurt me." And, that is a healthy fear! The fear of being hurt is a natural human fear. And, it's an animal instinct. All over the animal kingdom, when there is a potential predator, the fear response kicks in and they go into protection and survival mode. That is completely natural. Without it, animals would die. And, it's not that the animal lives their whole lives in fear, it's that they know in certain situations, they need to protect themselves from harm.
Let's go back to my life. When I am alone with a guy I don't know well, and I feel afraid, that is my body telling me to protect myself from possible danger. In that moment, I can say, "The Lord is on my side; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" It doesn't mean I put all my guards down, it means that I give the current situation to God because He is my protector.
The blanket statement of "I fear ______" creates bondage, whereas acknowledging the specific situation in which I feel afraid creates freedom.
I don't have to live my life in fear (and, really, I don't. There are many things I do that I am not afraid of doing). And, I don't have to pressure myself to be fearless (some fears are natural and made for survival - like standing too close to the edge of a cliff, running away from someone or something threatening my physical safety, and always having coffee on hand ;) ).
What I can do is fear less. For me, that looks like taking away the fear blanket that is draped over my whole life, and instead acknowledging the specific areas and situations when I feel afraid and, in those moments, trusting that God is with me, protecting me, and giving me the courage to do or say what He wants me to. It also means having the courage to walk away from situations and people that may be harmful. That is a God-given, natural response. It may also mean having the courage to stay in that potentially harmful situation because I know God is with me and my fear may be unwarranted due to past trauma or current emotional state.
So, take the pressure off. You are not just going to wake up one morning and be completely free of every single fear. That is not how it works. Instead, be present in each situation and make a decision to fear less.
You are not your fear. Daily, we can learn to choose courage over fear, and have faith that God is with us, strengthening us, and protecting us in every situation. It will take time. It means being intentional. It means trusting God.
Throw out the fear blanket and remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and sound judgment. Those three things are what we must intentionally choose in each situation in which we find ourselves feeling afraid.
I especially like the sound judgment... perhaps I will address that more fully in later post.
Until then, let us start choosing to fear less.