Overcoming our Fear & Need to Control

Fear of the Unknown & Controlling the Outcome

I know you can picture it. She’s walking down a long dark hallway… slowly creeping with a latern/torch/flashlight in handtrying to find the exit. The black in front of her is overwhelming… she hears a noise and freezes! “What’s ahead of her in the dark?” we all think to ourselves. We don’t know.

This is obviously the plot of almost every horror and suspense movie, and one of these many scenes usually shows up in the trailers.

We FEAR the unknown.

This is a common thread that binds every human together, and it’s what makes the epic stories of courage and bravery so POWERFUL – overcoming that fear of the unknown (to get the girl, kill the bad guy, escape, win!)

‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’ – H.P. Lovecraft

Too big of a topic to write about in one blog, I want to focus in on one aspect of this fear that brings tension as we live, work, and play in our everyday lives.

Controlling the Outcome!

We don’t immediately recognize that FEAR of the unknown is the root of this problem, but every time we face a problem or are tempted to take a risk in business or in a relationship, we are driven to want to control the outcomes of those decisions. We know at a core level that we control very little, yet we base most of our decisions on the illusion of controlling the outcome of our decisions and actions.

Stephen King (the king of horror) was quoted as saying,“The illusion of control is the primary FUEL for our FEAR.”

We desperately seek to control the outcomes of life (because of our fear of the unknown), yet we ultimately control very little in life!

So how do we deal with this tension?


If we conclude that our fear of the unknown shows up in our desire to control the outcomes in our lives of which we have little to no control over, then the answer to this tension rests in WHO we know, not HOW or WHAT we can control.

One of my favorite passages about fear, anxiety, and trying to control the outcomes of life comes from Matthew 25-34. It’s a great passage where Jesus explains why we shouldn’t worry about life, gives examples as to to why other forms of creation are not filled with fear or anxiety, and then gives us the solution for dealing with the TENSION of our fear and need for control.

Matthew 6:34 (MSG) “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Our Faith in WHO WE KNOW allows us to face every single day with courage and optimism, because we don’t need to worry about those things we cannot control tomorrow. Our focus needs to be on what God is doing today in and through us. WHY? Because when tomorrow comes God will still be there working in and through us to help us along the way.

PLEASE NOTE: I personally believe that trying to “get rid of our fear” is the wrong tactic. Fear is just an emotion and it’s not always bad one. (Watch Disney’s INSIDE OUT). Embracing the fact that fear is always present, always lying beneath the surface, will help us better understand that when it flairs up, we are usually focused on the WHAT and the HOW of what we DON’T KNOW, rather than focused on the WHO we DO KNOW.

Fear is at the root of most of the tension in our Life and Faith. Recognizing where the fear shows up is sometimes tricky. How we respond to fear, however, is up to us!

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