Trillia Newbell and I both moved to the Nashville area about the same time in 2013. Since that time I’ve had the privilege of becoming friends with her. Trillia is as warm and open a person as I have ever met. She exudes kindness and honesty (not a pairing that always goes together). Trillia is also a gifted writer with a clear voice that makes readers wish they too could be friends with her. She invites readers in and treats them as equals. It is for these reasons and many more that I am excited to present an interview I did with Trillia about her new book, Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves.
Many books share good information. Many are well-written. But a scant few actually care for readers. Well, this one does. It is written primarily for women, but has plenty in it’s pages that would encourage and help men. Most of all, though, it is a book that will help fearful people feel understood, loved, and lifted. Here is what Trillia had to say.
You write as one woman addressing her friends (or soon-to-be friends). What kinds of differences do you see between men and women in terms of experiencing fear and responding to it?
Newbell: At the root, fear is fear but I do believe it can express itself differently in men than women. For example, my husband would worry about provision (finances, etc.) and that isn’t typically something I’d be concerned about. It makes sense to me that as the leader of our home, he would carry this burden and I would not. I, however, would fear our children getting hurt—he doesn’t seem to share this fear. These are quick examples and, obviously, it applies to my family, but I often hear these two fears specifically related to men and women.
One of the strongest encouragements you give people struggling with fear is how Jesus dealt with the same struggle but without sin or failure. I think many people have a hard time connecting to Jesus as a human who really, actually struggled. What would you tell them to help them connect more personally with Jesus?
Newbell: Wow, such a great question and observation. I think you’re right, it can be difficult. I think one reason it’s tough for people to relate to Jesus is because he was perfect. Not to minimize Jesus in this example, but think about people you know who seem to have it all together. We know the truth, no one has it all together, and yet it might be difficult to relate to that person. Jesus really did have it all together and when we look at him in Scripture we simply realize just how short we fall. The other reason might be unbelief. It takes faith to believe that Jesus was with God and then took on the form of a baby, was born, walked the earth perfectly, died on the cross, forgives sins because of this act, and is now seated at the throne of grace.
So, in order to connect with Jesus personally, I’d say we first must realize that he was (is!) a real living, breathing person. He bled, he wept, and he laughed and mourned. He really did the things the Bible records. Perhaps this is all I would say, actually. I think if we believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man—even with the mystery of it all—then we can know that his humanity was for us. He condescended to the womb of a woman because he loves us and that is truly amazing.
If any of us sits back and reflects on all of our worry we’ll realize that it never, ever helps us in any way (as you point out). Why is it that we insist on worrying and that this sort of logical deduction doesn’t really help most people stop worrying?
Newbell: It’s easier to worry than it is to rest. We want to control the situation or the circumstance and we can’t. It never helps us if we simply try not to worry. We must instead replace our worry with something good. The mind set on God has perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). What we need to do is set our minds on God—remembering his character, recounting his good ways, and thinking on his provision of all good through Christ.
Is there any kind of fear that is ok or even healthy? When is it ok to feel fearful and how should we act on it?
Newbell: If you are walking down a dark alley by yourself, it’s probably not surprising that you might experience some fear. I do believe the Lord has fashioned us so that we experience the emotion as a way of caution. So, instead of walking down the dark alley alone, we might use wisdom and have someone walk with us or choose a different path. There are other times when I’d say a certain level of fear is warranted. An abusive relationship might cause a man and woman to be fearful of someone. I think most fears that are warranted are more like the yellow flashing light right before it turns red—warnings signs. Wisdom in many of those situations protects us against terrible things.
Over and over again throughout the book you gently and clearly push the reader to believe what God says over what we tell ourselves or what anybody else tells us. This is really hard to do. What are some practical ways we can put this advice into practice?
Newbell: Perhaps the clearest way to put our faith into action is through prayer. Prayer is also a difficult discipline, but as we pray—submitting our thoughts to the Lord—he meets us where we are. The second thing we must do is be in the Word of God. If you aren’t reading the Scriptures, it’s hard to believe what God says. We want the truth to be implanted in us so we can recall it during our time of need and trouble. Finally, it’s not bad to believe what others say if they are speaking truth to you. God gives us friends to carry each other’s burden and to encourage one another. So, grabbing a friend who is willing to share with you the hard things is always a good thing.