Review of Afraid of All the Things by Scarlet Hiltibidal

I got to meet Scarlet a few months ago and loved hearing about her journey of writing this book. Afraid of All the Things is an honesty memoir of her life, she first dreamed up writing as a 10 year old; yet, her life experience added new colors, depths, and shadows to the canvas God was painting in her life. Scarlet exposes her constant struggle with anxiety and fear as she faced hypochondria, an ectopic pregnancy, adoption, cancer, a broken home, and everyday life.

For anyone who has faced even moderate anxiety, Scarlet’s descriptions of her inner dialogue will feel both affirming and hilarious. She is honest, bold, and for real about her fears and struggles, displaying authentic quirkiness and dependence on the Lord, even after honestly naming her fears of relating to Him.

I believed I could be saved by grace, but that, in order to be approved by God, I had to live in near-perfect obedience for the rest of my days. I also believed that the more orange my hair was, the closer it was to blonde. Neither of those beliefs were rooted in reality and neither of them delivered.

I read Afraid of All the Things in two short plane rides. Scarlet is an engaging author who invites you in through her honest, funny stories, and keeps you to bless you with some truth of how the gospel meets us in our deepest and craziest fears. As I sat on a small plane very close to the passenger next to me (who really smelled like beef jerky at 9am) I had to keep from laughing out loud at many of the stories she told.

Anxiety, though, is not the focal point of Afraid of All the Things, rather God is and His perfect love that casts out all fear. Scarlet honest in on the Truth of who God is and how he meets us in all of our fear and wondering with patience and faithfulness that is so radical and intimate.

Being week, by itself, is a drag. However, fainting from weakness into the strong arms of a loving God is maybe the most wonderful feeling on Earth. We are pushed and bruised and strained, because we live on a planet with gravity and brokenness and pokey things. But, because of the cross, where Jesus was already weak like we deserved to be and strong like we could never be, our spirits can rest all day every day in His strength.

Afraid of All the Things is uniquely posited to highlight some complex life circumstances and the anxiety that commonly surrounds it, yet Scarlet explains the Truths of who God is in such accessible means. This book could easily translate to a high school girl facing anxiety and fear all the way to a Mama who has sent her baby off to college.

So if you find yourself counting backward from ten on a hospital gurney, if you feel an internal organ exploding, or if your flesh is failing in any way, you can still sleep in peace, because in Jesus, your soul is safe.
If we’re busy resting in God when the scary things in life happen to us, our our knee-jerk fear responses will be replaced by supernatural peace. And it’s simply a gift that comes as a chain reaction to being rooted in a finished work and knowing that God has already been bigger than the scary things.

The author is a mother of small children and at times I felt somewhat talked down to in the oversimplification of truths of the gospel- though I assumed them to be exactly how Scarlet interacted with God. Anxiety is a difficult issues which penetrates vast areas of an individual’s life. Using clichés and oversimplified Biblical truths can at time feel triggering, like using a dollar store water gun to put out a house fire you are trying to be rescued from.

Yet, I was so thankful when Scarlet reached into the depths of her struggle, honestly sharing about needing to go on medication, affirming the shame many believers face in that decision, and validating its biological need for many of us who face anxiety.

For me, so much of learning to be like Christ has happened simply by being a recipient of love-getting to experience the gift of others sacrificing for me and my well-being. And I look at them like, HOW and WHY are you like this? And then Christ gets my attention and my selfishness is exposed and my fears don’t hold up when I look at the great, sacrificial, otherworldly love He has for me.