Those Times We’re Scared Senseless

FEAR-300x185Like some bloody-faced bad guy from a horror movie pulling me into his chest, the heavy arms of overwhelming fear wrapped me tight.

The digital radio on the nightstand glared green: 3:00 a.m.

A fuzzy apprehension gripped my brain while a heaviness crushed my throat. My heart shot out erratic electrical impulses, and I could feel the veins on my neck tighten.

I should run. Escape. Something’s out there, or worse, something’s in here.

I couldn’t move. Or breathe. Or think.

An all-consuming head-racing thing overpowered me. Like all my sane or positive thoughts had turned against me, and were battling to win my brain’s control center. I tried to calm myself, rationalize the safety of my locked house and my warm bed, but in true psychosomatic behavior, right when my pulse slowed I started thinking about how uncomfortable the fear had been, how I might die if that happened again, and I drove myself into the depths of sheer panic all over again.

It’s maddening when fear creeps in and sucks your mind’s will, your very breath.

I hated these times—these companionless nights when my husband was required to travel, the ones where the creaks and groans of an empty house evoked terror in the early morning hours.

Ground yourself, Jo Ann. Distract the fear.

I fought my way through the down comforter over to the nightstand. The faint light from the bathroom offered a path to the switch for the bedroom lamp. Light—lots of light; that will help.

I grabbed the small spiral-bound, butterfly-shaped notebook, the one sitting beside my bed for times like this. The day I spotted it in the little boutique, the bright pink and sunny yellow dotting the cover made me smile—drew me in. Tonight, I’m simply drawn to the truth of God’s Word that sits handwritten on the lined pages inside.

“Courage! Take heart. God is here, right here, on his way to put things right … he’ll save you … At night (when) I am troubled and upset, he will listen to me … he keeps me safe … When I was beside myself,  you (God) calmed me down and cheered me up (Isaiah 35:4, MSG; Psalm 55:16 NCV; Psalm 94:19 MSG).”

The Truth-distractions conquered my anxiety to a level where I could allow one rational thought through: I’m not dying—it’s only adrenaline. Focusing on that thought opened up room for another one: You got through this last time, you can do it again.

Panic and anxiety attacks—a tool of the Enemy—had walked with me most of my years. Grew up with me, got married, divorced, and raised my daughter with me. Even stood beside me as I became a Christian, and later, remarried a godly man.

Satan loves for us to be scared senseless, because it’s in direct opposition to God’s plan. God designed us to be women of courage. Bold, outspoken, unafraid women.

Eventually I learned to speak the truth when panic attacked. I kept those spiral-bound index-card-style notebooks filled with the promises of scripture everywhere–in my purse, by the bed, on the dash of my car. The fear-lies simply could not withstand God’s truth, running away when my mind focused and my pulse slowed.

It took some time for the attacks to stop completely, but my spiritual stubbornness kicked in, and it paid off. I asked God for help, I continued to do my part, and he delivered me from my fear. He still does when he needs to.

What are you most afraid of? {I imagine that’s the very thing Satan is trying to keep you from.}

*This is an excerpt from When A Woman Finds Her Voice–Jo Ann’s book that releases this fall. Watch for it! Meanwhile Jo Ann is giving away a copy of her Write Where It Hurts  journal to someone. Be sure to leave a comment below to be entered, or simply share the post with a friend.



39 thoughts on “Those Times We’re Scared Senseless

    • Hey Jess — thanks for stopping by. And yes, the Truth of God’s word will chase away those fears! Cling to it {like I did} my friend, and may you lie down in peace and sleep. <3

  1. Yes, sadly, many times! I have to say, the most scared I have ever been was when I was 16 years old and I was camping out with my then best friend and her family and we were up at the bathrooms at night and a man walked in on me while I was on the toilet. He muttered, “Oh, sorry,” and went back out. A minute or so later he returned with a little pink pill in his hand. All the horror stories my mother had impressed on me from my earliest childhood about rapists, molestors, murderers, and kidnappers flashed through my mind at an alarming rate. I screamed. I remembered in a book I read as a child, a book called “The Matchlock Gun,” where a mother and her two small children are alone in a cabin in the middle of the woods. (Her husband was away.) Indians surrounded the cabin and she called out every man’s name she could think of to scare the Indians into thinking they were surrounded. I did just that. I named every person I could think of at the top of my lungs. The man RAN! I escaped unhurt, but I was so scared. I was scared for so long whenever I saw men smile at me, afraid they had evil intentions. My husband has helped me a great deal, but I still get scared sometimes.

    • Oh sweet Mandy — my heart races even hearing that story. I am so THANKFUL you found your voice and that man ran. Praise God for His protecting hand on you. And I pray that for those times when fear seeps in, {even now} that you will find comfort in the safety of God’s presence.

  2. I don’t know that I have an answer to this.. I’m still afraid of letting people down I guess. But it’s different now than it used to be. Fear has been more “manageable” since I faced my worst one and survived.

    • That’s the funny thing about fear, isn’t it Kathryn? Once we face it, it somehow loses it’s hold on us. 🙂

  3. I’ve woken up like this many times…. I think I’ve found more fear in dreams than in real events. I’ve experienced many real life fears but I have dreams that I swear are more like visions, and the worst one I can remember was when I was nine years old. I can even remember the date, it was December 23rd, 1995. In the dream I had been raped and everyone around me slowly just left, wouldn’t help me, wouldn’t speak of it, wouldn’t acknowledge it. The next day my sister and I went Christmas shopping with mom, last minute stuff, but the whole day I carried the anxiety and fear of that dream because I was so confused, and I felt like an actual victim, the filth and despair and violation and I felt I couldn’t speak of the dream because then I would really be considered those things. I feared they would think “what’s wrong with her? What has she done?”…. So I never said a word. Five months later my sister was raped, our church wouldn’t approach the subject and let us just fade away, some family acted as if it wasn’t as big of a deal…. the whole dream aside from who was victimized had basically happened….. And I carried guilt for many, many years thinking had I told someone maybe it would have helped, maybe it would have stopped it. Sometimes I still struggle with it…

    • Oh Aja … my heart aches for the pain. I pray God’s truth would set you free from any residual guilt and fear. Praying for you this moment. <3

  4. What I am most afraid of is that my deepest fears of rejection and abandonment issues will catch up with me. I choose not to be angry and bitter and most often have a smiley, positive attitude, but sometimes, I wonder if others are wondering when I am going to throw in the towel and say,”Okay, now I am angry.” That scares me.

    • JoAnne, I not only share your name, but I used to share that anger lying just beneath the surface. The face of anger should win an academy award for all that it masks so beautifully. I pray that God fully heals the pain that is masking as potential anger. Thank you for your authenticity.

  5. Thank for for sharing this. I have frequently suffered from panic attacks, not so often at the moment but its an awful terrifying place to be. It’s the absolute fear that is paralysing, like I need to run and yet knowing that I’m alone, that I don’t matter to anyone ….well that’s how it WAS and I’m believing for complete healing in this area as I step out and not be quiet anymore. I love your suggestion of “speaking the truth” when it happens…. and for me there are so many lies but I’m learning (and believing) there is so much truth and hope for me will make a difference.

    • “Hope will make a difference.” Oh Fiona, hope makes ALL the difference–you are right my friend. And I’m believing with you for complete healing. I know it is God’s desire and plan! Thank you for sharing.

  6. My biggest fear is drowning, which has kept be from being baptised although I know it is a sign of my obedience to God and I should/need to do it. I am literally scared to death to get up in front of a church full of people, get into a big tub of water, pinch my nose shut (oh glory be, I can’t breathe with my nose pinched shut!) be bent backwards and raised three times up and down in the water, before it’s over. What torture. For someone who never has almost drowned (TWICE!), you would not understand the panic that sets in at this the thought of having a panic attack in front of hundreds of people. I would probably end up drowning both myself and the pastor baptising me. Even walking past a pool or lake with water lapping at the edges makes me tense up and panic set in. I will not even hold my face under the water in the shower, once a few months back I got soap in my eyes and panicked in there and thought I was going to drown. So yes, this is a HUGE fear for me. I’ve been praying for God to help me conquer it so that I can get baptised.

    • Sherri, thank you for such vulnerability that allows you to share your biggest fear. I’m stopping this moment and joining you in prayer to overcome this.

  7. I use to also deal with anxiety and even had one of those attacks once where I took myself to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack and made my husband come home from work, I was so embarrased. Thankfully I look to the Lord when I worry, though at times worry can still take over, but thankfully I do not let it take over.

    • Praise God for the healing He has done in you as well Jennie. And I pray that you {and me} always press into that healing whenever fear tempts again.

  8. Thank you for your honesty. Anxiety used to have a hold on me but more so than that was the fear of God not loving me because of the bad decisions I’ve made in my past. He continues to wake me up each morning and still reminds me He’ll never leave even on days when I feel broken. No longer broken, He is making me new!

    • No. Longer. Broken. YES, my friend — that is the secret. He will NEVER leave us; we are not alone. And that is cause for celebration. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Most of my life has been ran by fear. To try and think of my most fearful time would take me forever. This one really sticks in my mind though. When I was 18 years old I was held against my will by a married couple. They did explicit things to me involving rape, physical, mental and emotional abuse. Once I thought I had a chance to get away, and the woman caught me. She grabbed me by the throat and started squeezing. At that moment, I thought for sure I was going to die. Also at that moment I think I was more afraid of continuing to live than dying.

    • Jeni … my heart aches to hear such pain. The fear that breeds in such a horrific experience wanted to stake claim in your future but I pray complete freedom from this experience! Thank you for sharing, because I know there are many reading who can’t yet even voice a similar pain, and for them you speak freedom. So thank you for using your voice my friend.

      • Thank you for having a place for me to share. For so many years I thought it was my fault that these horrific things happened to me. Today I believe differently. Unfortunately there is evil all over in the world, which just pushes me closer to God. I believe we all go through different struggles and events in our lives to strengthen our relationship with God. To build our Faith in every way possible. I do not regret my past, nor do I shut the door on it. I pray every day that I can touch at least one person’s life and inspire them to move forward. I welcome the struggles today in my life because I know that God is teaching me and helping me grow into a better person. I have made a lot of bad choices in my life as well, and I live each day as a lving amends to God. I try to love more, help more, listen more, understand more and to be an instrument in God’s work. I have been wanting to write a book of my life for many years. I just can’t seem to get started. Maybe this is my way of starting by sharing here first. Again thank you for this forum.

  10. That is what I was saying to God a while ago. I reminded him of HIS words and then dared to make this statement; either your word is true or it isn’t and I KNOW it is. I want to be free from everything that is keeping me from being the blessing God has intended for me to be. I know he didn’t give me this gift to put it on the shelf and let it collect dust. I just need a fresh touch from God today.

    • Joye, I have long said if we truly believed God’s Word, we would live our lives a whole lot different. 🙂 Oh that we would consistently lean into His truth! Thank you for the reminder.

  11. I love how you pointed out that it (conquering the fear) started with focusing on one thought. I think sometimes we feel like victory over fear is so very far away. We don’t see how even quoting scripture can take us that far. But like you said, it’s extreme focus one truth at a time. And like a snowball, truth builds on itself and soon conquers all lies, even the lie of fear.

    • “Like a snowball, truth builds on itself and soon conquers all lies, even the lie of fear.” Love that Beth! And yes, one true thought at a time will eventually retrain our brains.

  12. I can really relate to this right now–been feeling anxious and I know Satan’s trying to distract me from speaking boldly. Especially love this “Satan loves for us to be scared senseless, because it’s in direct opposition to God’s plan. God designed us to be women of courage. Bold, outspoken, unafraid women.” Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Samantha, I pray a boldness wells up in you and overflows with a ripple effect throughout places you could never fathom. Thank you for sharing.

  13. I’m learning that a lot of my fears were learnt during my formative years, and I’m grateful for the sacred space that writing gives me to work through the hurts that have resulted in them.


  14. Age 12, left alone first time, I had fear so badly I was immobilized to an arm chair 4-5 hours gripping the arms of the chair. Gangs of boys with firecrackers right outside the window July 4th scambled through the ally way knowing my parents were gone. I was pale white when my parents came home. “Never again” my father said…Even when attacked by a man in Aruba with a knife or a high priestess witch roomate chanting in her sleep with a male tone had I never had the fear or panic as that day without any external stimulus causing my was only my imagination that had run wild and my insecurities that lacked confidence. Even then a devote believer, my faith had failed me but later utilized scriptures and giftings to get through trying times. Thank You for sharing Joanne. Living alone since 1984 and now a city girl in the mountains of NC isolated, my faith is strong. I also place a heavy small container in front of my garage door every night, just that one..and is enough to feel safe. I do what I can..andl let God do the rest.

  15. I can relate to those feelings. I come from a long line of worriers, and the past few months have dealt with some middle of the night fear attacks. They began when my husband was away on catastrophe relief in NY after the hurricane, and I spent many nights like what you described. I would pray for God to relieve my fear and for the enemy to flee. Thank you for sharing your post. I am have been doing better lately, except two nights ago, had a fear attack at 3 a.m. Satan definitely likes to feed those thoughts of fear, and what if’s. Finding solice and rest in God and the Truth of His Word brings peace and comfort to push those fears away.

    • Hi Connie, thanks for sharing. I pray that God’s comforting hand continues to push back any dark thoughts that press you. It helps so much to remain present, in the here and now, and not to let your thoughts run wild, uncontained. I pray God’s peace, comfort, and truth overwhelm you.

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