Guest post – Fear is a powerful thing – but so is faith. And if I have to choose a stronger force, I would say faith is the strongest every time.
Fear lies to us in our weakest, most vulnerable moments. It tells us we will never be able to do this. We will never get through to the other side. We will never be loved or accepted for who we are. We will never succeed at x, y or z. Fear picks up apart, piece by piece. It rears its ugly head in the worst moments, when you are already clutching onto your last straw.
But if you know God’s love and goodness and the power that a sincere, imperfect but entirely pure faith in Him brings – then you will know that faith can move mountains. Perhaps not the literal kind – but the kind that crush lives, that shatter dreams or that squash every last bit of strength out of you as a person.
Because, you see, faith is the soft voice that gently reminds you, even if and when fear takes ahold, that somehow, you will be okay. You have got this. You are not alone. Even at your most broken, you have enough inside of you to see you through. God is with you.
But often, when fear takes ahold of us with its iron grasp, like a snare biting into your flesh, faith seems an impossible ask even for the strongest or staunchest of faith.
I have never been a good example of a Christian. I know I am horribly flawed and I have hurt myself and others more often than I should – often enough to not be worthy of a love He gives.
But I also know, that in spite of my shortcomings as both a person and a Christian, I have incredible bounds of faith. Not the bold, ‘I got this’ kind of faith that some people exude – but the quiet, fierce and determined kind that refuses to give up, even when my heart and spirit have reached their most fragile state.
It is faith like a mustard seed. The kind that gets me through even the worst calamities – but which I know that, without this simple faith, I would be truly lost. I would be utterly hopeless. Maybe I would not even still be here.
My first few years as an adult have pushed me to my breaking point more than a few times – but never more so than in 2018 when my life, quite literally, fell apart.
I have, by no stretch of the imagination, had an easy life. In 25 years, I have had more thrown my way than some people endure in a lifetime. And I am painstakingly aware of this, just as I am aware of how I dismiss big things because, even if they are serious, I have been through worse. It’s a simple, unrefuted fact.
But as with anyone, there are standout moments of fear and confusion that are more poignant or unbearable than others. And this particular example is one that feels like that. It feels heavy. It feels, when I look back on it now, like another lifetime ago.
I can’t tell you how I got through that time of my life to be here today – but I can tell you that faith in God and myself, as well as trusting a few select and inherently good and kind people, got me to this point.
If you dumped me back there now, I know I would be wiser – but I would be no better prepared to handle it than I was back then. Because we cannot prepare – even in retrospect – for our worst personal battles.
To put it into context, I had moved (twice in less than a year) to a new part of Cape Town. I had changed jobs – but not just changed jobs, I had changed career paths and industries. I felt wholly unequipped in my new role and totally unprepared to be patient and see the fruit that my own efforts and determination would yield. I was racked with trauma from a past abuse but carefully shoving it down and pretending it never happened. I was in a new, tender relationship with someone I loved very much but who I was, at that current point of my life, totally incapable of being able to support and love in a way I should have.
To put it simply, I was treading water every day – and floundering by nightfall.
My faith in myself and my God-given abilities, which has always been shaky but consistent at best, became nonexistent. Fear beckoned to me daily, with exaggerated enthusiasm, “You can’t do this. Look, look – you aren’t worthy of happiness or love. You don’t deserve this new job or role. You aren’t good enough. You won’t learn fast enough. You will get laid off. You aren’t the perfect girlfriend – why are you such a bad girlfriend and worker? Why are you tired and anxious all the time? Why aren’t you getting all this right? Why, why, why?”
For a few months, fear was the only constant. I knew nothing else. Internally, I questioned myself – but outwardly, I cried and despaired every single night.
And then, as so often happens in life, when it rains, it pours… My mum’s health (which has been increasingly bad ever since I was 12) deteriorated. I wasn’t sure she would pull through this time – but fear tightened its grip around my heart all the more. My own health started spluttering, my anxiety spiralled… And eventually, I sank.
My relationship ended. I had to move out. I had no car so I had to find a new way to get to and from work. I had very few friends I knew well on this side of the city. I was scared and alone and every day, I found a new way to fall apart as a human. I broke multiple times a day, in multiple, pitiful ways.
Fear took ahold. And I didn’t know how to fight it.
But one thing I did find, like a blind man searching for something in an impossibly black and bumpy night, was my faith. It didn’t come back to me with trumpets and angels singing… But like every other time when my life has been at its hardest or its worst, it settled on me and gave me quiet strength.
It became the prayers I beseechingly uttered to God, as I fumbled over words and tears and feelings.
It became the force that propelled me to get through each day – to simply exist at the barest minimum human capacity – and show a brave, put together face (like some carefully drawn on mask) so that you might never know how broken I was inside.
It became my war cry, the thing that pushed me to get up in the morning when depression settled on me like a thick, impenetrable cloud.
It encouraged me to trust, not just God and myself, but others, too. To show them the thing I feared most: my own fragile, broken humanness.
The first time I did it, I thought the person would run screaming from the room. Repulsed by the sight of my tears or the signs of me visibly breaking in a way that only a heartbroken, lost soul can break. But then, the funniest thing happened: no one ran. No one judged me or told me to pull myself together. Instead, they stayed. They comforted. They encouraged. They believed.
And in time, that small faith – that dared me to let people in and stop facing the brokenness alone – led to a stronger, more tangible faith. The kind that brought new strength reserves and vulnerable trust with it. The kind that gave me the courage to leave my home and start anew – as a new version of myself.
It pushed me to conquer my fear of being, travelling and living alone. Of living alone, above all, with myself. Of being broken and yet still having to throw myself into work before that went south too…
It made me grow, as it stripped away every last trace of the old, scared and needy Tamlyn. Before, gradually, it moulded me into someone else entirely.
I stopped letting myself and others tell me what to do. I stopped listening when fear (or doubt) told me I can’t do it. I stopped absorbing the words that had been ingrained in my heart since I was a child: you are not good enough.
I stopped being afraid of love and vulnerability and human connections. I stopped entertaining people who only knew how to cause destruction and emotional pain; I stopped putting up with things period, like I had no other option in life.
But most of all, I stopped giving into fear and all its many emotional embodiments.
Instead, I felt the fear, felt it like crazy… But I did it anyway. Why? Because my faith in God had proven once again that, even at my worst, most broken self – I would be okay. My faith in Him would overcome every fear. I would heal. I would grow. I would survive.
And I did. Yes, it is still a daily fight – keeping that fear at bay, silencing those doubts – but I am better equipped to handle it now. I have risen from the ashes – and my faith in Him has made me a stronger and more beautiful version of myself than I ever thought possible.
So when fear surrounds you – remember that you have a force inside of you that is stronger than anything… And that sometimes, even the simplest, most minute faith like a mustard seed, is enough. You got this.