Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: fear

Heartstopper – How to Defeat Fear

A knock sounded on the front door, and I frantically dialed my husband’s cell phone. My heart stopped when it rang on the stand next to me. I usually don’t call my husband in a panic whenever someone comes to the front door, but the power had gone out ten minutes earlier. The scent of pine from the Yankee Candle we’d lit hadn’t even permeated the air. My husband had left for a meeting, and so we were alone in the dark. I hadn’t been expecting anyone.

The kids ran into open view excited to see who was visiting. I practically tackled them in my attempt to pull them out of the sight of our glass door. “Get back.” I waved them into the kitchen.

The knock sounded again.

My heart pounded in my ears louder than the cars that crank the base as they pass by my house late at night. Three little sets of curious eyes stared at me. “Who is it, Mommy?”

I raised a finger to my lips to hush them. Whoever was outside needed to know they picked the wrong time to come knocking. I would defend my children to my dying breath. I yelled out in my loudest voice. “I’m calling the police!”

Silence.

Several minutes passed without a sound. I started to breathe again. The kids whispered to each other. Their volume increasing with each sentence.

Footsteps sounded on the porch.

My heart collapsed in on itself and dropped to my toes. I reached for a knife out of the butcher block.

Keys jingled in the lock.

The mysterious knocker had keys? 

The door opened. “I forgot my cell phone.” My husband strolled into the foyer.

I melted into a puddle on the kitchen floor. If only I’d known he was the mysterious knocker. If I’d only had the nerve to ask “Who is it?” I would have recognized his voice instantly. Instead, I panicked, and we hid. When I finally did get the nerve to say “I’m calling the police.” My husband had chosen that moment to walk back to his car to get his keys. If it had been daytime, I would have recognized his shape outside the door. But in the dark, our fears can keep us blinded.

When we operate out of fear, we are quick to attack in anger or react in defense. We don’t stop to consider what is the wise thing to do. Fear may seem prophetic when we extrapolate out the worst-case scenarios, but fear is shortsighted and has blind spots.

  • Fear of failure has a blind spot that leads to cheating on tests.
  • Fear of rejection is shortsighted and keep some from trying out for the team.
  • Fear of not being loved strangulates relationships or causes them to go too far too fast.

Like Zack William’s song says, “Fear is a liar.”

We may not be able completely to regulate our initial response. Even Jesus’s disciples struggled. When guards came to take Jesus away, Peter reacted out of fear and cut off the guard’s ear. Jesus, on the other hand, remained calm and collected and put the soldier’s ear back on.  Jesus knew the horrific torture and death he was about to face. If anyone had the right to lash out or panic, it was Jesus, but he didn’t. He trusted God’s plan.

Dr. Katherine Brownlowe neuropsychiatrist at Ohio State Wexner Medical Campus calls Peter’s reaction the “amygdala hijack.” The amygdala overrides our conscious thought to enact the fight or flight response. Even if our amygdala initially gets hijacked, we can contain our second and third reactions. We don’t have to lash out in anger with hurtful words or shut down in self-defense. We don’t have to ice someone with a cold shoulder or make hasty erroneous decisions.

If we take a moment, to check our reaction, think, and listen, we may recognize God’s voice over the lies. We can tune out fear and dial into God’s wisdom. God is in control, and he is bigger than our fears and smarter than our problems.

“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

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Stone art people passing a Valentine

Love Because You Are Loved

Stone art made to look like people passing a Valentine

If you hang up the phone first, then you’re in control of the relationship. I don’t know why I thought this when I first started dating. My husband and I met over summer break during college and continued to date after I went back to school five hours away. Somehow, irrationally, I got it in my head that I could protect my heart from rejection if I could be the first one to say goodnight and get off the phone. The problem was he beat me to it every time. As soon as I’d pause and say “It was good talking—” he’d jump in with, “Yeah, miss you. Talk to you soon,” and then he’d hang up.

I’d stare at the phone gritting my teeth, torn between astonishment and outrage. Anger is often a coverup for a deeper fear—which in my case was rejection. We dated long-distance for two years. In all that time, I never was able to get off the phone before him. But he continued to call and, over time, his love and devotion allayed my fears. Now, I realize just how silly I had been.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18). In my manuscripts, all of my heroines start with a fear:

  • the fear of not being good enough,
  • the fear of not being loved,
  • the fear of rejection,
  • the fear of their past defining their future,
  • the fear of lacking purpose.

We all can relate to these fears in some way because they are real-life struggles. How many of us ever …?

  • Checked our phone wondering if he or she will call you back?
  • Pushed a proposal across the table praying it will be considered?
  • Walked into the class reunion dressed to impress, hoping they won’t remember you as the dorky, shy, or strange kid from third period?

There are a hundred other scenarios. With my stories, somewhere around the midpoint to the last third, the heroine realizes she is loved. It gives her the confidence to drive out fear and leads to the happily-ever-after.

girl dressed as a princess in front of a play castle

Happily-ever-after isn’t just for fairy tales.

My husband says I won’t argue with anyone except for him, and he’s right. I like conflict in my story characters’ lives not in my own. So why would I argue with my husband? Because he loves me. His love has driven out my fear of conflict. I can argue with him knowing he’ll still love me. Most people might not find that romantic, but I do. I love my husband all the more because I have the security to speak my mind.

It is this kind of love that sets us free, not a box of chocolates, nor a bouquet of flowers (even though those are very thoughtful and much appreciated). But love is even bigger than that. We live in freedom without fear because God loves us. His love has removed the sting of death and the guilt of sin. We have confidence in the day of judgment because of Jesus’ sacrifice and his love for us. When we understand the depths of God’s love, fear shrinks back and looses it grip.

His love is so overwhelming, it fills to the brim, overflowing. Not only do we have plenty of love to give away, but we also have the confidence to do so. You’ll see Love Because You Are Loved on my website and in my emails as my tagline. It stems from 1 John 4:18 “Perfect love drives out fear,” and 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” Because we know he has our best interest a heart, God’s love helps us relinquish the struggle for control. His love gives us freedom from fear and the courage to love one another.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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So, go ahead and love because you are loved!

Slice of Chocolate Cake

How a Slice of Cake Defeats Fear

My grandmother refused to drive a car. Today it seems virtually impossible to live without driving unless maybe you live in the city, but she lived in the suburbs, long Fear spelled in scrabble blocksbefore Uber. She tried it once. Unfortunately, she hit the gas pedal instead of the break. There was a loud crash. Metal scraped and crumpled. I can imagine my grandfather wincing before he jerked his hand through his hair and muttered under his breath. Ma Ma never got behind the wheel again.

Fear steals from you.

Now my grandmother was a wonderful woman. She had the kind of laugh that you couldn’t help but smile when you heard it. She was fun to be around and always seemed happy. I never would have guessed that she was afraid of anything, especially not driving.

Fear enslaves you.

I struggled with fear for a long time, fear of failure, fear of rejection. It kept me shy and isolated. I wouldn’t initiate talking to people. If I had to get up in front of the class or do something publically. I would practice and practice until I knew I couldn’t mess it up, until I met some level of perfection that couldn’t be mocked, laughed at, or taunted. Then, I met my college roommate. Kim was from Queens, NY, and even though she was 5’4” and barely 100lbs, she talked and acted like she was 6’6” 250lbs of sheer muscle. Kim was not afraid of anything. Somehow we hit it off immediately. She dragged me out of my dorm room and pushed me way out of my comfort zone.

Looking back, I believe God brought Kim into my life to grow me. Whatever you fear you serve, and if she hadn’t challenged me then I might still be enslaved to fear. Fear would have us believe that God’s hands are tied. That we are at the mercy of our circumstances whether it be a bad boy/girlfriend, an angry boss, or an unfavorable doctor’s prognosis. We feel stuck and snatch hold of a short-term solution to keep us afloat. When instead, we should be clinging to the God who is, in fact, able to save us. Fear tries to limit God’s capabilities. God is powerful, but this is cancer. God is powerful, but I need this now. God is powerful but …

But what?

Faith is trusting God explicitly. The human mind is plagued with doubts. Are Slice of Chocolate Cakeearthly brains cannot comprehend the possibilities of God. This is where walking by faith comes into play. I know it’s not easy. I was profoundly influenced by Karen Porter, author of I’ll Bring the Chocolate, who once spoke at a lady’s event held at my church. She said sometimes we might not have enough faith, but it is okay in those terrifying times of doubt to borrow the faith of others. She used the example of slicing off a piece of chocolate cake. Borrowing a slice of friend’s faith may be all that’s needed to keep you going. Sometimes just knowing that someone else is praying for you when you’re all prayed out is enough.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  

~ Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

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