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What To Do When Fear Is Your Backseat Driver

Is fear driving your life? Here’s how you can encourage yourself to keep going.

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As a mom, sleep is a precious commodity. So when it is disrupted in the middle of the night, it basically wakes a sleeping bear in me. And I’m not the most gracious person at 3:30 in the morning. But I answered her scream and walked into her room.

“What’s the matter? Why did you scream for me?”

She responded, “I’m afraid of the house being on fire.”

I breathed a heavy sigh and proceeded to walk her through what to do when she’s afraid.

This was a nightly occurrence in our house for nearly a year, and every night I recited the same truths to her: “You are safe. You are loved. The house is not on fire. What should you do when you are afraid?” Every. Single. Night.

I recently found myself thinking about fear in my own life. As I thought about what my next steps would be now that all the kids are in school, fear started growing in me. Starting something new can be exciting, yet scary.

Most of us don’t do well with unknowns. I like to know exactly what I’m getting into. In fact, I like to be an expert at it before I even attempt it. Crazy, right?

I recently read a quote by Brene Brown: “When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun, and fear is that annoying backseat driver.” Perfectionism was driving my mind as I thought about my next steps. The reality was that I didn’t know exactly how to do this new thing. I was no expert. I was bound to make mistakes as I figured it out. And those mistakes, if we allow it, can lead to shame and then our fear will speak up and tell us to turn around and go home.

As adults, we often think that if we are afraid of something, then we shouldn’t do it. We allow fear to be a barometer to whether or not we do something.

Yet, as a parent, I don’t think that is true. When I walked into my daughter’s room, I didn’t look at her and say, “You’re right. You should be afraid and since you are afraid, let’s stay awake and not sleep.” No way! No parent would do that. We would push our child past their fear. We would encourage them to do the thing that they are afraid of because we know what they need and where they need to be.

Our heavenly Father does the same with us. Just because we are afraid doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We need to let Him nudge us past the fear.

2016 holds new adventures for our family. My husband is an entrepreneur, and he is pursuing a new dream. Unknowns galore. Will this work? How long until it is funded? What does this mean for our family? If I’m not careful, fear can be the backseat driver for my feelings and worth.

And what is God nudging me to do now that the kids are in school? Start a podcast. I knew nothing about podcasting when I felt His leading. Who knows if I will be any good at interviewing people. I’m not technical. What if I sound funny?

So many “what if’s” and fear statements. But I can either let fear be the backseat driver for my need to be perfect in this new adventure or I can let God gently push me past the fear of the unknown and the imperfections of myself to experience more of Him.

In my first interview for the Surviving Sarah podcast, I asked author and mother, Holly Lauren, what drove her to pursue getting published while she had a newborn in her arms. She said, “You have to believe that the unlikely is possible.” At some point, we need to look fear in the eyes and believe that the unlikely is possible. Even though the odds are against you. Even though circumstances don’t seem favorable. Even though you know nothing about what you are doing. Believe the unlikely is possible.

So what about you? Does 2016 hold something new for you? Is there an area where you feel incapable or afraid? If you were a child, what would you say to yourself to encourage you to keep walking even though you are afraid? Maybe it sounds like what I told my daughter, “You are safe. You are loved.”

The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

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Sarah Bragg has worked with students in ministry for more than 15 years and previously worked in full-time ministry for 7 years. Her book titled titled Body. Beauty. Boys. The Truth About Girls and How We See Ourselves helps young women find their value in the One who matters. She is the Lead Editor for a student strategy and curriculum called XP3 Middle School for Orange at the reThink Group. She has a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Sarah and her husband, Scott, and their daughters, Sinclair and Rory, reside in Marietta, Georgia. To listen to conversations about surviving life, check out her podcast Surviving Sarah on iTunes and to follow along with her life, check out

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What To Do When Fear Is Your Backseat Driver

by Sarah Bragg time to read: 3 min