An interview with author Deb Coty
*A longer form interview is available upon request.
As much as we would hate to admit it, most of us struggle with some kind of fear, worry or anxiety on a regular basis. Whether the fear is something that seems insignificant to some (like spiders) or is more common to mankind (like the loss of a loved one), we need to find the faith to hand our worries over to God to handle. In Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate: Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life’s Worries (Barbour Books/February 1, 2013/paperback/ISBN 978-1620291696/$9.99), Debora M. Coty uses her trademark humor to draw readers out of a lifestyle of worry and anxiety and into living life with the security of knowing that God has everything under His control.
Q: In the introduction of Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate, you write that you conducted a survey of 500 random women from age 18 to 80 to pinpoint their fears. That sounds like a major undertaking! How did you pull that off, and how long did it take?
The survey took about four months to complete and consisted of wonderful ladies at my speaking engagements, those filling out the survey online through my blogs and website, and various church and civic groups throughout the country who were kind enough to participate. I was overwhelmed by the number of responses; I was originally hoping for 200 responses and ended up with more than 500, which increases the validity of the data and ensures that the information gleaned is reflective of the real fears of today’s women.
Q: What are the three top things women fear most?
The number-one fear of women surveyed is loss of a loved one (spouse/children/parent); number two is debilitating or terminal illness; number three is fear of failure. You may be surprised at the other seven in the top ten — I was!
Q: “Fear not” is the most repeated command in the entire Bible. Why do you think it had to be reiterated so many times?
Fear is a natural by-product of man’s fall. Adam and Eve feared facing their Creator so much after the first sin that they hid. I think mankind (and womankind) has been hiding one way or another ever since. Fear first worms its way into our thinking processes, then it affects our actions. If we allow fear to continue to wreak havoc in our lives unimpeded, it can eventually erode our self-esteem, relationships, and even our faith.
Fear is passion in a negative direction. Our fears spotlight what matters to us most—those hidden corners of our lives in which we trust Papa God the least. These are the hot spots we need to work on, and that’s what Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate is all about.
Q: Fear can often result in a lot of anxiety. What are some of the steps to overcoming anxiety when we feel it pressing in on us?
1) Postpone worry. Set aside 15 minutes a day as your designated worry time. Then, whenever a niggling fret worms into your brain during the day or night, jot it down. Now that you’ve recorded it, you can forget it and not waste precious living time dwelling on it.
2) Believe you have a choice. You don’t have to be controlled by your emotions (fear, anxiety, panic). Discern the difference between reacting and responding. Understand that feelings don’t dictate truth — it’s actually the other way around. Emotions are subjective and can change with the twist of a hormone. Search for biblical truth and allow it to manage your runaway emotions.
3) Feed your boldness, starve your triggers. Surround yourself with people and things that nurture, encourage, and uplift you. Strengthen your emotional muscles like you do your physical muscles — by practicing fearlessness.
4) Tap into Papa God’s supernatural strength.
5) Morph worry into prayer. Worry is a non-productive waste of energy, but prayer is the nerve that innervates the muscles in the hand of Papa God.
6) Action defuses anxiety. When you start to worry, get your hands busy and your mind will follow.
7) Exercise intentional gratitude every day.
8) Consider a fret fast.
Q: What are some of the fears you struggle with most?
I’d say fear of the unknown in the form of the what-ifs has been my most persistent personal struggle. I have a hard time living out loud the reality of Proverbs 20:22 (NASB): “Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.” Instead of relaxing in that promise, I charge ahead into the fantasy world of the what-ifs and wrestle with real and imagined fears. What I would do if this happened? What would be the best way to handle that remote contingency? In short, I’m attempting to save myself.
This, of course, only serves to magnify small worries into HUGE anxieties and self-perpetuates my fears. I’ve been told by many women that they suffer the very same problem.
Sometimes it’s what we can’t see that’s the scariest. Fretting over the what-ifs causes many a long, sleepless night as we sculpt features onto our faceless anxieties, effectively giving fear laser eyes, supersonic ears, and a cavernous mouth.