Overcoming the Fear of Grace

Recently we spoke about how difficult it can be for people to say the word, “no.” But another common phrase that may expose an underlying fear is “I’m sorry.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not ruling out the necessity of a true apology or asking forgiveness. That is Biblical and a vital part of building and healing healthy relationships. The type of apology I’m talking about is the  kind of “I’m sorry” that’s impulsive, and flies out of the mouth a hundred times a day--even when we’ve done nothing wrong.

This sort of apology isn’t necessarily genuine and is instead a red flag for low self-esteem. When we don’t feel like we belong somewhere or when we’ve convinced ourselves that we are more of a nuisance than an asset, we tend to absorb the fault of everything around us. Low self-esteem can often be a mask for a fear of grace. We don’t feel like we deserve it, so we are afraid to ask for it. Even worse, however, is that we are afraid to accept it. 

Grace is a Calling

The first step in learning to accept grace is to know you’re right! You don’t deserve grace! And neither do I. The Bible is clear that we have all fallen short and that none of us deserve anything in this life other than death.


While this may not seem encouraging at first, let that sink in...God knows we don’t deserve grace, but He loves us so much He offers it to us as a gift anyway! What that should do is swell our hearts to overflowing because to deny the grace God is offering us is to say that our low self-esteem is more powerful than God’s love and generosity. And that’s just simply not the case. Once God has His eyes set on you and declares you worthy because of what His son did for you on the cross, you have no right to declare yourself unworthy! So stand up tall and straighten the crown of righteousness He’s given you!

Grace is an Act of Humility

Many people believe that low self-esteem is the opposite of pride or the same as humility. But in reality, low-self esteem is just another expression of pride. Rather than thinking too much of yourself, you think too little of yourself. Both are derived from the same action--thinking about yourself. One of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.” This means that if we take our  eyes off of ourselves and fix them on others and on God, we will become more teachable, more confident, and will be able to find our place in the world to achieve the callings He’s given each of us.

Grace is Worship

You can’t do anything outside of the love and power of Jesus Christ. So stop trying to rely on your own strength and then beat yourself up for it every time you fail! God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, so stop apologizing and praise God when you are so weak that He has to work through you to accomplish His work. What an incredible miracle that we can be so imperfect and still be used by God to do His work.

I hope these words inspire you and give you some encouragement this weekend. As you go about your day, consider these questions:


  1. Do you find yourself apologizing even when you’ve done nothing wrong?
  2. Do you believe you are suffering or have suffered from low self-esteem in the past?
  3. What would it take for you to believe you are deserving of grace today?

Going Deeper: Getting to the Root of Fear

The first step to conquering your fear is understanding it. And let’s face it, some of our fears are shallow and easy to identify at face-value. For example, you don’t have to go through a traumatic episode to be afraid of spiders. People can be afraid of spiders simply because, well…

They’re creepy!

Other fears are a little harder to excavate, and it’s hard to fight against a fear that we don’t understand. For example, some people have an irrational fear of roller coasters. I had a client once who would break out in a sweat even if she overhear people talking about a theme park. She assumed it was because of a fear of heights, but  in reality, she was an avid rock climber who could be 300-400 feet in the air without much discomfort.

When we sat down to talk about why she was afraid of roller coasters but had no problem climbing up a 300-foot rock face, we realized heights weren’t the problem at all. The root of her fear was feeling like her safety was out of her control. She had no problem setting a rope hundreds of feet in the air as long as it was her hands that did it, When it came to trusting a stranger to design and maintain a machine that could go a hundred miles an hour, however, she couldn’t imagine strapping herself into the seat.

After digging further, it became clear that she had experienced a history of domestic violence as a young woman, and that experience made it difficult to trust other people with her physical well-being. So while at face-value my client seemed afraid of heights, deep down there was a whole lot of hurt and history that was keeping her at arms length from those she loved. Counseling not only helped her take steps towards riding her first (albeit, small) roller coaster, it helped her take steps towards trusting others again. Facing this seemingly simple fear had huge beneficial consequences for her, and I’m convinced you can have that same experience too!

So what about you? Are you ready to start digging deeper to the root of your fears? If so, then list out some of your most common fears on a sheet of paper. Then ask yourself these three simple questions:


  1. Do you notice any common traits in those fears?
  2. When did some of these fears first begin?
  3. By addressing the root of some of these fears, how would your life be different?



Break Free of the Enemy’s Strongholds

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor. 10:3-5

One of the topics that is talked about least in our culture while holding perhaps the greatest influence over our mental health is spiritual warfare. The Bible warns us that we have to demolish any strongholds the enemy can use to distract us from living and reaching our full potential.  If you believe that there is a God who designed you, created you, and set in motion a plan for your life, you have to face the reality that there is also an enemy, named Satan, whose only goal is to thwart God’s plans for you by distracting you from the course God has set for you. Scripture says that the enemy is a liar, incapable of speaking truth, yet we keep falling for his words over and over again. We have to remember, the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy, and if we listen to his voice and allow him to have sway over our lives, he will lead us down a path of destruction.

Here are three ways you can find and demolish the enemy's strongholds on your life:

1. We have to Know God’s Voice

God speaks to us through His word, through the people we love and care about, and even through nature, according to Romans. The enemy, however, knows this and tries to trick us by taking scripture verses out of context, speaking through people we trust and admire, and through everyday distractions. It is so important that we become familiar with God’s voice and work to develop discernment so we can know which voice is speaking to us.

2. We have to Guard our Hearts

The greatest battles between God and the enemy are fought on the battlefields of our hearts. As Christians, we can rest in assurance that God has already won the war for our hearts, but the enemy just doesn’t know when to quit, and can still do damage in the short run. We have to be aware that our hearts are constantly being pulled in two directions and take command over which direction our hearts will be inclined to go. If we are not knitting our hearts to God then we'll drift farther and farther away from Him. The more space we allow between our hearts and God, the

3. We have to Take Every Thought Captive

Philippians 4:8 warns us that we have to fix our minds on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, and whatever is excellent. Only God can be these things, so when our minds are fixed on what is good or right or pure, our minds are fixed on God, and the enemy has no room to interject his own thoughts into our minds. So when thoughts of guilt or shame come into your mind, identify them for what they are and remember those thoughts are not from God but from Satan. And he has no business in your thought life.

I hope that this message brings encouragement to you and empowers you to face whatever battle you are facing this week. If you’d like to speak with one of our qualified counselors, please know our hearts are only to help you and guide you to living the best life God has called to you, free from all the enemy’s strongholds. You were made for so much more! Give us a call today and let us join you in your journey today!

Faith Forward,


Feeling Courageous When You Can’t Even

The Bible doesn’t say “Be strong and courageous when you feel like it.” Sometimes I wish it did! But that would allow us to rely on our own strength which we all know is less than reliable. Instead, we’re called to rely on God’s strength which never fails and never taps out. This is even more difficult on days where we just don’t feel ourselves. Inevitably, there will be a day when we wake up tired, sick, or feeling like the cards are stacked against us. So how do we muster courage on those days? What are some ways we can push ourselves to be courageous to face the day when all we want to do is shrivel up and go back to bed?

1. Set Yourself Up for Success

The first thing you can do every morning is get up and dress the part. Even if you don’t feel courageous or prepared for the day, wake up at the same time anyway. Make the bed to keep yourself from crawling back in it. Get dressed in an outfit that makes you feel powerful. I had a client several years back who reserved a specific shade of lipstick which she called “the armor of God.” She reserved this lipstick for those especially difficult days when she needed a visual reminder to put on the armor of God and rely on His strength that day. Whatever makes you feel bold or powerful, make it part of your morning routine, and watch how quickly your attitude towards the day will shift.

2. Fake it in Faith

A study was done several years ago that showed that if you stand in a powerful position with your feet shoulder-width apart, your hands on your hips, and your head held high, you can actually trick your brain into feeling more powerful and brave. Whether you buy in to the study or not, the idea is very helpful. Sometimes you won’t feel bold or courageous until you start believing God can make you courageous if you faithfully play the part.

3. Pray...Harder

To rely on God’s strength, we need to be faithful and ask for it. This should be a daily occurrence, but some days, you’ll just need to stop from time to time, go to your knees in prayer, and beg God to bring strength when you have none. He is faithful and will always equip you to complete the call He has given you each day, so ask in faith knowing He will respond.

4. Give yourself an incentive

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a little reward or incentive to keep yourself going. If you struggle with social anxiety and know you have a day full of conferences or presentations, plan a quiet hike in the afternoon where you can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the quiet time you are craving. If you are an exhausted mother unsure whether you can manage carpool or toddler tantrums for one more day, plan a long bubble-bath or order a new book to look forward to as a reward for whatever chaos the day throws your way.

5. Remember the Long-Game

It’s easy to slip into the here-and-now mentality, but as Christians, we’ve been called to live every day in light of eternity. Think to yourself, in 10,000 years is this lousy day even going to be a blip on my radar? The answer is no. Will the faithful act of being courageous when God calls me to be matter? Yes it will. So don’t fall into the trap of believing that the struggle you are facing today has no expiration date. Keeping a long-term perspective will help keep the fears and doubts of today in their rightful place.

To encourage you, I’d like to leave you with a Bible verse to consider as you rest this weekend to face another week. Lamentations 3:22-23 says that God’s love never ceases and that His mercies are new every morning. That means that while we sleep each night, He makes a new deposit of strength and mercy to face whatever the day ahead of us has in store. If we believe that He has equipped us for anything in our path, the most courageous thing we can do is start walking.

Here are some questions to consider as you begin your weekend:

  1. Do you believe God has equipped you to face your day today?
  2. What is God calling you to today that you are tempted to shy away from?
  3. What incentive would motivate you to live courageously today?
  4. What makes you feel more powerful even if you feel your weakest?

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Approach Fear Like a Diet

While many fears do require the help of a professional due to trauma or an anxiety disorder, many fears can be conquered with a plan and a little determination. Approach your fear the way you would approach a diet with these three, simple steps

Have you ever started a diet where you had lofty goals to lose three pants sizes in a week, only to look at the scales a week later and find you were a couple pounds heavier? Maybe dieting isn’t your thing, but instead you tried to train for your first half-marathon and found yourself on the couch in your running shoes gorging on a bag of potato chips instead.

Lofty goals can lead to pride or defeat--pride because if you succeed in accomplishing that seemingly impossible goal, you will have bragging rights for life. Defeat, however, is the more common of these two outcomes, because staring at a mountain and having no concrete or realistic plan can knock the wind out of your sails before you even begin.

I had a client a few years back who had a fear of spiders. She hated them, but could usually manage her fear enough to remove herself from an uncomfortable situation if she needed to. Her roommate decided this fear was irrational so she took a pretty radical approach to help her get past this fear. She released her pet tarantula into my client’s room and locked the door behind her. This of course traumatized my patient, and what began as a fear of spiders quickly developed into a full-blown phobia. Had the client been able to take baby-steps toward conquering her fear in her own time, she may have found the opportunity to move past this fear on her own. Unfortunately, due to her roommate’s rip-the-bandaid-off-quickly approach, she required profession counseling to help manage her fear.

While many fears do require the help of a professional due to trauma or anxiety, many fears can be conquered with a plan and a little determination. Approach your fear the way you would approach a diet with these three, simple steps:

  1. Make a Plan

Fear, much like a diet or any other goal, has to be approached in baby steps. Sure, you want to set goals for yourself, but if you have no concrete, achievable  goals to set your eyes on, you’ll get distracted, overwhelmed, and will likely give up. Just as a doctor would rarely encourage a patient to give up all sweets in a single day, I would rarely recommend jumping out of an airplane as your first step towards conquering a fear of heights. Instead, set measurable, achievable goals, and get started.

2) Find Your Person

Just as it would be helpful to have a friend or family member hold you accountable during a diet, finding someone you trust can make all the difference in the world as you face your fear. Getting over your fear requires transparency, so think of a single person you trust to gently but firmly come alongside you to help you achieve your goals.

3) Celebrate the Victories

It’s important to celebrate the small victories along the way to increase your stamina and keep you motivated. Conquering a fear is not easy, so treat yourself from time to time! Just as you might reward yourself for making it through a week without sugar with a victory cookie, think of something you can use to motivate yourself towards your goal.

Think of a fear that may have some control over you or may be keeping you from doing something really exciting. Today could be the first day towards conquering that fear! Take the first step now by answering these three questions:

  1. What fear do you think it is time to conquer?
  2. What are the first three baby steps you need to take in order to achieve this goal?
  3. Who do you trust to walk alongside you as you face this fear? Name one person.

    If you would like to learn more about our services or what we can do to help you overcome any fears or anxieties you might be facing, contact us and set-up a time to talk. Our experienced therapists and counselors are more than happy to talk with you and help you decide what your next steps need to be. If you'd like to join our mailing list to receive free counseling resources just like this straight to your inbox, type your email below! And don't forget to share with a friend.