What are you afraid of? Two months ago, I asked myself this question point blank, staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I was facing a big life change, one that I wasn’t sure I was ready for, and this question was both a soul-search and a declaration—if I wanted something bad enough, I would have to face my fear.
Over the last two months I’ve been thinking about fear a lot: where it comes from, what it means, how we overcome it and whether facing it is a good thing. When I was younger, my parents always encouraged to challenge the things that scared me, but their instruction was sometimes at odds with my Christian faith. In faith, it seemed like the things that were ‘scary’ were bad, and so I should pull away from them. And so, as a kid wanting to do the ‘right thing,’ I did.
But over the last two months, I’ve realized that true faith is not born of standing on the sidelines to fear, and more importantly, not all fear is negative.
Sometimes the things that scare us the most are the challenges we must overcome to find our purpose, to grow, to discover our place in this mess. Sometimes our fears, our demons are exactly what we need to encounter so that we can both determine, and walk in our truth.
When I hear the phrase, “dance with your demons,” I think of a little girl spinning around in circles with the devil, being tempted and pulled to places that aren’t right for her. I think of my younger self, and how I was always cautioned to be safe. I think of how the Bible warns us against falling victim to vices. And then I think about the moments I truly grew as a child of God, and how each of those moments I boldly stepped out in faith.
I believe we must change the way we see our fears, our demons. I think we must acknowledge the bad, but also the good that can come when we walk outside of our comfort zone and face the things that challenge us instead of shrinking back. I think we must realize how powerful we are, especially with God on our side, and that if we trust Him, there really isn’t anything standing in our way.
And I think that we must understand that when we dance with our demons, they no longer have power over us.
I can’t live my life being afraid—this is what I’ve learned over the past year and a half. I was previously caught up in a negative situation, being inappropriately contacted and pursued by someone whose attention I did not want. This situation lay heavy on my heart for many months, and I struggled deeply with it. But it wasn’t until I surrendered to God, until I reached out to people around me, and until I decided to face my fear instead of living in the shadows, constantly looking over my shoulder—that I was truly freed.
In that moment of decision—saying “yes” to facing my fear—the phrase, “dance with your demons” carried weight for me. When I stood my ground, raised my voice, and quit living hesitantly and fearfully, I found my wings again. I found my passion again. And I found the resolve to move forward and let God take control of my life and direction.
“Dancing with our demons” does not mean that we flirt with the devil, or let ourselves get caught up in what is not right for us; it does not mean that we allow temptation to be the guiding force within us. What it does mean is that we allow ourselves to be strong enough to face what’s holding us back, empowered enough to believe that we can and will overcome. And then we do.
We can’t live our lives in fear—of possibility, of people, of death, of loss, of brokenness—of whatever it is that haunts us. In order to grow, we must be willing to accept that we cannot control every outcome, but we can shift the direction of our lives in incredible ways, if we let go of fear.
So whatever it is that’s dragging you down, that’s overwhelming you, that’s holding you hostage—set yourself free from the bondage and step into the light.
You won’t lose yourself, or lose your way. You won’t be farther from God’s light or truth. You won’t fall victim to the negative (especially if you lean on your Father in the process), and you won’t be lost. You and your inner, inherent strength will be found.
Remember this: you must challenge, stumble, question, and fall in order to grow.