Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, with JJ Gutierrez

Sometimes a single word or phrase has the power to change the course of our lives, and “Chickening IN” is that word for JJ Gutierrez. This little twist on a familiar phrase launched JJ into a transformational journey from fear to faith. Her book, Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, 8 Pillars of Transformation, is a practical guide to defeating fear and doubt. I spoke with JJ in February, but her message is especially needed today.

JJ says, “We all have fear. But some of us have a lifestyle of fear.”

Chickening IN represents a lifestyle shift. It’s the transformation that takes place when we face our fear and confront it with the truth. In JJ’s case, a simple comment from her daughter was the catalyst for life-changing action. And it gave her a word to share, to help bring this lifestyle change to us. During our conversation, JJ shared her own story of “chickening in”, the eight pillars of transformation, the ways fear lies to us, and examples of how people in the Bible experienced and overcame fear.

As she walked her own journey out of a lifestyle of fear, JJ developed the eight pillars of transformation. These are practical steps to overcome fear.

The 8 Pillars of Transformation

  • Facing Fear
  • Stepping-up to the Plate of your Life
  • Taking Calculated Risks
  • Traveling Unknown Roads
  • Embracing your Uniqueness 
  • Pursuing your Dreams
  • Doing it Afraid
  • Faith the Difference Maker 

In her new book, Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, 8 Pillars of Transformation, JJ goes through all of the pillars. In our interview, she went into depth with the first—facing fear.

Internal Conversations with Fear

There is such a thing as healthy fear. That’s the fear that keeps us from touching a hot stove or running out into the highway. Fear’s rightful role is to alert us to real danger. However, fear can also become a lifestyle, where the conversations in our minds make unlikely worst case outcomes seem like certainties. Fear lies. Fear exaggerates the negative possibilities and undervalues the positive. In the interview, JJ goes over the different types of lies fear tells us.

Your fear knows exactly what buttons to push.

JJ Gutierrez

JJ says the voice of fear seems to know just what buttons to push to send us into a spiral. “It knows exactly what to tell you, and it’s very personal.” It can be subtle, nudging us to “small” lies, or step back when we really want to step up, or plunging us into worry and worst-case scenarios. That’s when we get wrapped up in fearful thoughts and “what ifs” that make the frightening things seem inevitable. Once we’re caught up in the spiral, it’s hard to see what to do or which way to turn. But there is a way to change the conversation.

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Learning How to Change the Conversation

The key to changing the conversation with fear is inviting God into the conversation. ” Instead of having a conversation with fear,” JJ says, “we want to turn that conversation to having a conversation with God. And that is the key. That’s the key differentiator.” Allow God to speak truth to the fear, because most of the fear that holds us back is built on lies.

JJ gave the example of three friends. One has a negative impact on you. Another has a positive impact on you. And another has a neutral impact, or no real impact either way. As we bring our fear to God, it goes from being negative to being neutralized. That time with God, conversing with Him, grows our faith, and that impacts us on the positive side. That shift, JJ says, can cause us to move forward “So that we can make decisions that will lead us to start overcoming that fear.”

Faith is being able to say, “God, I am terrified.”

JJ Gutierrez

Overcoming fear is a process. One step follows another, with small, sometimes imperceptible forward movement. That first step of faith, saying “God, I’m terrified,” invites Him into the conversation. As He speaks truth, we are able to take those practical steps we need to take.

How many times have you “chickened out”? Chickening IN is an invitation to a lifestyle of courage and faith.


JJ Gutierrez, Courage Challenger and Mentor –
Get the book (affiliate link): Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, 8 Pillars of Transformation
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