About the Author

I'm the mother of two little girls, the wife of an amazing husband who'd rather play the guitar than anything else and I love to write. I spend my weekends watching my daughters ride horses and play soccer. I blog daily and my greatest wish is to see women healed...

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  1. Beautiful post & I totally get what you are saying about seeing poverty & forever being changed. I am such an advocate of mission trip (and traveling abroad in general) because it DOES change you and it’s so important to get a little perspective on life. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

  2. One of the scariest things I do is live abroad. BUT it’s not scary for the reasons you might think — I LOVE my life in China. I love the people I work with, the neighborhood I live in, the markets I shop in. What’s scary, is that in this life of faith, this may be where God has me for the long haul (it’s only been 16 years). I now have aging parents and nieces so sweet it physically HURTS to not be a part of their daily life. What if God asks me to live with this tension the rest of my life? I will. But it wears on me. And frankly, it scares me. I wrote about “The pain of separation” (http://wp.me/p1Ut5W-5d) and really could have called it the “fear of separation” as well.

  3. There is a kind of fear the Bible speaks of that we are all to possess as followers of Christ; the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of hell and eternal punishment was even preached from the judge’s podium for many centuries in this country, to convicted criminals. The purpose was to give them a health fear of God and judgment so they would turn their lives around to walking righteously rather they accepted Christ or not.

    I am grateful for my parents stand on the TV and such socially unacceptable things in the past as scary movies, etc. That did not exempt me from scary things in life but allowed my mind to not be filled with things that are not, noble, good, praiseworthy, etc. We are no different than computers, garbage in – garbage out. What we feed our minds and souls does matter. The Bible tells us there are many things we are not to have a part in.

    God warned the Israelites to abstain from any of the practices of the people in the land they were about to be given by God. He warned them not to deny them fun, but to keep them from the slow seduction into things that would harm their spiritual brightness, making them dull and unable to hear the voice of God in their conscience.

    Corie TenBoon (spelling?) often stated living in fear of the Nazism gave her a spirit of timidity, but her sister and father did not seem to possess. Then she was once told by someone who was dealing with fear, to act, pretend she was brave for that is what worked for them. God also gave us a sense of fear for the purpose of discernment, not to have it overcome us but to use as a balance with faith and trust. Without fear, we often stand back and are not moved into action that will secure righteous choice.

    Eve was tempted and beguiled because her fear of doing what God had commanded not to do was not in balance. God gave us a sense of fear of the enemy for enmity purpose of the enemy of our soul. Often we will not walk away from things that we should because we think we must face fear head on and master it by taking on the arguments or what ever the challenge by the wrong things standing in front of us. It is not just on the school play ground that this challenge stands before us, turn or stay and fight to prove what. So often challenges are placed before us that we take on because we do not have a right balance of fear and common (Biblical) sense.

    Some such thing will seem benign on the surface, the Spirit within speaks to us, not to so something and we charge ahead and do it just so we can prove we are fearless. This is not bravery but foolishness. Fear is a tool that we can use for our benefit. Many times I would not listen to that still small voice that told me to fear the actions or company my children were about to be involved in and both they and I paid dearly for it. As with all things fear balanced with faith and trust is a combination that will help us to make the right choices.
    Mrs. J.

    • You have wisdom Eileen Jennings! because you remind us to honour and listen to our fear and not just think we should “prove we are fearless”, and who says we have to do everything anyway? Your last sentence is one to meditate on: “fear balanced with faith and trust is a combination that will help us make the right choices” – thx!

  4. For me the most scary/courageous thing I have to do is go to the airport on Friday…it’s not the flying part that terrifies me–it’s all the people…I have to push through the fear though considering I pretty much have no place to live for a week if I don’t go home (I live at college and the res hall closes for spring break. If I really had to I could probably ask a friend to stay with them, but that would require even more social skills, so I’ve really already chosen the lesser of two evils)

  5. I agree, Sarah. I think that if we really lived with an eternal perspective, we would have freedom like we’ve never dreamed. And fear would just dissolve into a radical kind of moving foward. And faith wouldn’t just be a feeilng in our hearts but a real, active leap into the unknown.

  6. Wow. Embracing the scary is quite a mature response that requires the grace of God to lean into, as you say. Excellent post, Sarah, as are all your posts where you unveil your thought processes on difficult topics/decisions/life.
    I, too, have battled fear for most of my life, but it is no longer debilitating. Why? Because I humbled myself, and told my husband about it. He prayed with me, and God’s grace met me right where I was. Then, lovingly led me to the freedom from fear I didn’t know was possible.
    I am nearly finished with an excellent book on this topic, it’s titled Running Scared, by Ed Welch. I highly recommend it because he helps the reader unpack the fears we live with and then, helps us apply the Truth to our fears.
    Thanks for a great post!
    Debi

  7. Without your own experiences through fear you would not have so much to offer your children and readers in understanding and truth! I love what you say about
    leaning into the fear because we know it’s a good experience and we’ll be better people, that is how I like to think going into something scarey too.
    We’re more experienced because we’ve lived more, (leaned more!) and so bring more wisdom and courage into our lives I think.

  8. Fear has become such a part of my life, from the time I was a little girl it was my constant companion. Right now I feel like it is slowly strangling the life out of me. Please tell me how you trust God. How, when you know that He is able to make things right, and sometimes He chooses not to, sometimes He chooses to allow you the very pain you were so scared of, He chooses to allow terrible hurts to come into your life. How do you trust? I want to, I just don’t know how. I’m so scared of what He’s going to allow into my life next. I’m afraid He’s going to take away everyone I love, and leave me with the pain, so that I will grow, or my faith will be stronger.
    Nightmare on Elm Street was my first scary movie, too. It was awful. When I close my eyes I can still remember some of those scenes, and that’s been 25 years ago. Yucky.

    • how do i trust? it really is day by day, hour by hour. i think giving God the next hour is easier than giving him the next day or the next year. baby steps, i could call it?? he will be faithful, penny.

      and yuck right? now i’m sure i think that movie would be silly/stupid, but very impressionable on a young sheltered girl like me.

  9. The scariest thing I have had to do lately is let me children go. I have 20 year old and an 18 year old. Letting them go to fly on their own terrifies me. I worry, did I teach them enough, have I prepared them…But as I lean on my Heavenly Father I feel his comfort and know that He is now the one helping my boys to grow.

    Whether the scary things are by choice or not by choice, leaning on Him makes all the difference.

  10. “I was, however, fearful that seeing that kind of poverty would forever change me.” Such wonderful humility and honesty to admit that this is what you were afraid of, Sarah. I am glad you are seeing how God is walking you through now that you are back.

    I have the strength to face fears when I remember how God has been faithful to me in the past. Those memories are a tangible reminder that He will be faithful to me again. Specifically, I lean on the ways He brought me through the birth of my first son, when as a result of significant health risks for me, he was born 8 weeks early. God was with me in wonderful and soul-filling ways during a very scary time. I am eternally grateful.

    • that’s beautiful stephanie. thank you so much for sharing your story. i’m sure others have been able to benefit from your strength and experience.

  11. Oh my goodness, can I relate to this! I hate films or books that don’t have happy endings, and daily battle weird fears that seemingly grow worse as I get older. I LOVE reading how Ann Voskamp conquered her fears of leaving the farm. Grocery stores are so intimidating right now. Not good when you have 6 hungry kids to feed. My pastor calls it living with ‘diminished capacity’.

    One of the things I remember (I think) Beth Moore saying in one of the Bible Studies I’ve done is ‘Then what?’ After all the horrific things you can imagine happening- losing your kids, spouse, home, etc., ‘Then what?’ God is still God, He is still faithful, and you will survive. You will be different, yes, and it will hurt, yes, but you will survive. I think praying over that thought has helped significantly in battling the fears I face daily.

  12. I’m learning that sometimes you just have to do things afraid. I’m learning that I can’t move forward in life if I’m not willing to do somethings afraid.

  13. Fear has affected my choices in life also. I know it is based on a lack of faith in my faithful God, which I have prayed about every day. But just this morning I read 1 Peter 4:19: So if God wants you to suffer, give yourself to Him. He will do what is right for you. He made you and He is faithful. (NLV) And God showed me how what I fear is the physical and emotional pain from what He allows me to suffer –short-term. But His focus for me is eternal salvation for my soul –long-term.
    Matthew Henry said: “The soul is of greatest value, and yet in most danger.” God has chosen to value my soul above all else. Including situations that are comfortable to my heart and body.
    To overcome fears, I have to stop focusing on feeling safe and being safe in each moment and see that God has a much deeper love and plan for me. He wants me to spend eternity with Him! And to use me to draw others to Him! Knowing this, and believing this, I am finally beginning to rest in His love and trust His plan for my life.
    Thank you for your encouragement and sharing your story.

    • That is exactly it. That’s what He’s been showing me as well. It’s the pain that I fear, the intense hurt that accompanies trials and suffering. Several years ago my husband had an affair, and the pain was overwhelming. I am afraid of what pain He will call me to go through next. Please tell me more about how you battle this. I feel like I am sinking.

      • penny – the short answer to this is that there is no short answer. I’d suggest a few things: good licensed Christian therapy, a core support group of other solid women who know you and your situation, and time. it is a daily thing, i believe. please feel free to email me if you want to talk more, penny – sarah @ sarahmarkley dot com

  14. One of my personal goals this year is to try not to be so fearful (I wrote a post about it). It is so hard to not be scared and I think it becomes ingrained as we get older. I am trying, but some days it is hard.

    Oh, and I am not a scary movie fan either! Nightmare on Elm Street scared me a kid at a slumber party too!!

  15. Fear is my biggest enemy in my present world and these words strengthened me to pull the band-aid off to work through this fear! I don’t want to run from fear anymore, but I must conquer it as I make some big decisions! Thank you Sarah for bringing this to light today! It was just what I needed! = )

  16. “I believe it can be very simple: leaning INTO the fear and leaning ON what you know to be true. ” That’s so true, Sarah. Thank you.

  17. I felt that way, scared of being changed, when I went to Africa. But it seems that in a twisted way, the fear impelled me towards it — I needed to see it so I would be changed. Now that it’s done its work and changed my heart I’m motivated to encourage others to care. I think that God uses fear, just like everything else, to draw us to him and graciously transform us – great words here, thank you!
    Alyssa Santos

    • i agree with you alyssa. sometimes fear does push us toward things and its a good thing. i think that happens when we are in the right heart-place to change and grow. thank you for your insightful comment, alyssa!!

  18. I fear missing God’s will, settling for less.

    In eight years of our ministry we have been building slowly as God has given us only eyes to see the next two steps ahead into the fog. My friend calls it root work…rooting and establishing the kingdom. I have had to trust the voice of God even when I don’t see the visible fruit.

    Fortunately, the fruit has started to appear and it is ripe and succulent and has been worth waiting for.

    Still, I will hear a call of adventure and feel myself tugged and I am fearful I’ll get infatuated and uproot and miss the Kingdom garden God designed me to get my hands dirty in.

    • ooh, root work. i love that term. so true.

      so happy that you are one of the ones who sticks it out and sees the fruit. so many don’t do that. thank you summer!

  19. thank you for such a beautiful post. you have spoken the words that i felt when i visited haiti last summer. i too have avoided scary movies my whole life not wanting to fill my mind with horrible images. it may be too why i have avoided so much scary stuff in life. but Christ did an unexpected work in me when He challenged me with the possibility of losing all my worldly possessions here in the “safe” USA. It propelled me to lean into the fear, face it head on and expand my comfort zone to things i though unimaginable. i will be taking my second trip to haiti this summer, this time with my teenage daughter. while the thought terrifies and sickens me i have chosen to lean into that too and lean on Christ to get us through.

  20. Sarah, I love your acknowledgement of the other-kind-of-scary. The hopeful scary that you know is good for you, but requires change and growth. I stepped into a new kind of scary this weekend as I submitted my final assignment for graduate school. It was both exciting and terrifying to say goodbye to the way I’ve been doing life for the past two years – to take on the responsibility of wisely using the 30+ hours per week I’ve just regained and not simply bury myself in other kinds of work as I’m so inclined to do.

    Thank you for your words. I am “leaning in,” too.

  21. The scariest moment of my life so far was a genuinely life threatening moment – being surrounded by collapsing buildings in the middle of a major earthquake. Having survived, it’s been a long road to recover from that trauma. But now I’m finding I’m starting to grow spiritually in ways I don’t think I would have done without that experience. My life never will be the same again, but what got me through was faith and trust in the Father that he was carrying me through.

  22. I have lived my life in fear. Fear of everything bad happening to me and since I’ve had kids, fear of things happening to them. I was scared to talk to people about my fears,issues, concerns, dreams, hopes, aspirations, etc. Scared of what others might think, more importantly, what my mother would think. I lived in fear of her and her reactions to things. Here’s the kicker, I still lived in fear of her even without a relationship with her for the past 12 years. Not even a single phone conversation. But I was still afraid of what she would say or do if she knew I’d talked to someone about life at home. Never mind I have not lived in her home for 24 years now. Fear runs very deep and its very convincing.

    Fast forward through some really tough times the last few years. I’m still learning about my fear but I’ve learned that its irrational fear that is driving me. I’ve learned I do not have to let it control and consume me. God, being that wonderful Dad that he is, gave me something to help me walk through the middle of the fear and close that door behind me. He put a woman in my life who he knew would come into the middle of my fear, into the dark and stand beside me. She would put her arms around me and tell me I do not need to be afraid of things that cannot hurt me. Feelings and emotions cannot physically hurt me. They hurt, but they cannot harm me. She helped me to take a small step, one after the other, until I reached the door of my cave of fears. She stood outside waiting for me to make that step across the threshold into a life that would be so different from what I had been living. When I would retreat again into the cave, she would come inside and help me to the door again. She was that candle in the dark leading me to the light. It took years of counseling with her, with a professional, countless hours of prayer and teaching but one day I did it. I took a hold of her hand on one side and Jesus’ hand on the other and took that step of faith outside the door. I stepped out into a world I was terrified of just the same as I was terrified of the other. It was unknown and foreign to me and fear of the unknown is powerful. I have learned that its my faith in God, my eventual trust in him that gets me through. Even when I skirt around the door of the cave now and sometimes go inside I know how to get out. My friend, she still walks beside me but more often than not she is near enough to call out to but not necessarily arms length away. We’ve loosened those apron strings a little and I’m learning to walk on my own with Jesus now. I’ve learned to recognize the fears as they develop inside of me again and know to quickly give them up to him because I know I will be consumed if I let them stay with me too long.

  23. Thank you, I needed to read this. I have some scary things upcoming over the next few months with my book release and interviews, but it’s good. Leaning in and leaning on God’s truth is a great way to express how to overcome that fear. Great article!

  24. I was in Peru a couple of years ago and my heart is still there!! I was a little scared to go but knew in my heart that I was going to be OK because if I wasn’t going to be.. God would not have given me the opportunity!! It was very short notice that I was asked to go on the mission trip and I was able to raise the funds for the entire trip within 6 weeks. Glory to God for that!! I hear you about the crazy drivers in Lima.. that was very scary.. lol.. The town we went to was about 135 miles (6 hrs by bus – winding roads were crazy) we did most of our traveling on those kinds of roads!! But the Moto’s that all the smaller towns used for transportation.. they were crazy too lol. My heart went to all the children we met.. as little as they had they always had a smile.. God loves the little children and they knew it! Awesome!!

  25. I just woke up my mind racing its 1am cant sleep fear gripping me about the worst. Im going to Africa on a mission trip less then one week away. I like what u said and thank u God Bless in Jesus .