Tearing Down the Stronghold of Fear in Your Life


Fear is a stronghold the devil loves to set up in us. All he has to do is move all the players in place to set up circumstances that cause us to feel we are all alone. This leads us to believe no one—not even God—is there to protect us.

When this happens, we either go crazy or we will try to protect ourselves. I couldn't go crazy because I had already determined I never wanted to have an emotional illness like my mother. This left me believing I had to protect myself.

As an adult, when I realized I had developed a stronghold of self-protection, I knew it stemmed from an incident when I was 11 and was molested by an older "friend" of our family. I want to emphasize it was inappropriate touching and was thankfully curtailed.

Hiding the Truth

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Although I wanted to tell Grandma what happened, I couldn't. Minnie was her best friend. What if Grandma didn't believe me? What if she thought it was all my fault? Was it all my fault? I didn't know for sure.

Fred went to church every Sunday. He was supposed to be a good, upstanding man. Maybe it was my fault because Dad always told me not to wear shorts or sleeveless tops. It was summer. I had worn both. Maybe I enticed him?

I couldn't tell Dad. He'd think it was my fault. I couldn't tell Mom. She had enough problems dealing with everything she was going through. I decided I would have to protect myself. First, I wouldn't stay at Grandma's while Fred was there. If I had to go to an event where he was, I would stay far away from him even if it meant being rude.

So, I determined I would stay away from being near him. I would protect myself from him.

Weight Loss and Fear

Fast forward to when I was an adult and had discovered I had lost 100 pounds. I walked into the office building where I worked and got on the elevator with one of the department directors. As soon as the elevators closed, he looked me up and down and said, "You're looking really good today."

I froze. I didn't know what to say. He kept talking and said something like, "We'll have to get together sometime."

As soon as the elevator doors opened, I ran to my office. I had interpreted his actions as an older man coming on to me, much like Fred. I realized my fear of certain types of men was still very much alive.

That day I started eating sugar again. I went to the break room and bought two candy bars and a diet soda. I thought if I hadn't lost 100 pounds, the department director wouldn't have come on to me. If I didn't look good, I wouldn't have enticed him. Extra pounds could be my protection.

Breaking the Stronghold of Fear

This stronghold of fear became entrenched in me. I knew it was crazy. The department director probably wasn't coming on to me, I just thought he was. The 11-year-old me who was molested still believed I was in danger.

It was such a stronghold even when I forgave Fred during a Joyce Meyer conference, it did not erase my need to self-protect.

Forgiving Fred, though, was a first step in breaking the stronghold that said I must protect myself. Whenever I would think about Fred, I would see him as a huge monster in my mind and I was a tiny wimp. When I forgave him, I saw him as a shriveled-up little old man compared to me. I could take him on easily.

God is My Protector

To go forward, I needed to embrace the spiritual truth that says God is with me. Self-protection was no longer necessary. God had removed my need to constantly be on guard. I finally began to trust Him to protect me.

I found many biblical promises that reinforced my understanding of God as my protector. Probably the most helpful chapter and the one I return to time and time again is Psalm 91:

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday" (Ps. 91:4-6. NLT).

"If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone" (Ps. 91:9-12).

No Fear

How could I be afraid when I have a faithful God who protects me with His promises and sends His angels to protect me? I self-protected out of fear. God tells us we should not be afraid because He is with us and will protect us with His strength. We must use these truths to buoy our trust that He will protect us.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isa. 41:10, ESV).

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you" (Deut. 31:6).

Not living in fear is the best feeling in the world. God is my protector. He will lead me where He wants me to go. I am not afraid because I trust Him.

Teresa Shields Parker is the author of six books and two study guides, including her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. Her sixth book, Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds, is live on Amazon. She is a Christian weight loss coach (check out her coaching group at Overcomers Academy) and speaker. Don't miss her podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, available on CPN. This article first appeared on teresashieldsparker.com. Tune into Episode 126 of Sweet Grace for Your Journey, titled My Protector.

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