Why Are We So Afraid

{Photos by Tabitha Johnson}


You know how there are some things that are bad in and of themselves, but they can lead to good things? I think fear is like that.

A woman may fear the complications and struggles that will come from her breast cancer, but the friends she met in a support group were the kind she had been looking for her whole life. A man may be afraid to quit his job and move to Africa as a missionary, but through the experience he finds a greater trust and understanding of God’s faithfulness than he had ever known before. Fear can be a great motivator or inciter, but when it leads to worrying, stress, or anxiety, it becomes a sin (Philippians 4:6-7).

Did you know that, statistically, humans fear public speaking and presenting more than death? (If you took Speech in high school, you will agree with this in a nanosecond).

Take a tiny look inside how my mind works and what my heart fears.

May 18, 2015

I don’t want to write about fear right now. The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day, I just started (kind of) a dream job, and these Moody hallways are so much more peaceful now than they were during the school year. So peaceful, in fact, that a pastor here for the Pastors Conference is currently snoozing on an armchair in his own private corner of Fellowship Hall. You go, Pastor. You go.

I have to write about fear because I committed to 26. “365 Creative Writing Prompts” is a joke, but it’s one I have to bitterly chuckle at when I’m left staring at a blank screen, completely uninspired. 26 is the day I was born—the finest Wednesday of the 90s to ever come about.

Yes, now I’m just stalling. Fine, fine, I’ll tell you.

I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m scared of spiders, snakes, some really prissy cats. I’m scared of my glasses getting broken when a sportsball (of any kind, insert your favorite here) hits my face. That’s happened way too many times for it to be an irrational fear; people probably just chuck stuff at me when I’m not looking. C’est la vie.

I’m scared of finding bugs in my school’s cafeteria food (probably the most plausible of all my fears), and I’m scared of heights. I’m scared of guns (No, I didn’t say you’re a bad person if you carry one or shoot them. Keep your cut-off jean shorts on and calm down). I’m scared of appendicitis, curled toes (get your shoes fitted properly, everyone), and bad grades. I’m scared of disappointing others, so much so that I will bend over backwards, pull all nighters, and in nearly every way sacrifice my health and happiness so that my image won’t be tarnished to them. (Take a moment. Can you feel another post brimming in the waters of my unhealthy psyche?)

There are also things I used to be afraid of that I’m not anymore. I was afraid I would fall in love with a man in the Armed Forces, and I would become one of those strong and silent women draped over a casket holding someone gone too soon. I was afraid I would fall in love at all. I was afraid some earth-shattering blow—the death of a loved one, or the death of several loved ones—would cause me to lose my faith.

Fears creep in uninvited to our lives, sitting in the corner of our personalities until circumstances force us to notice them.

DSC_1074

“What are you doing here?” you ask. “Who are you?”
“I’m your worst nightmare,” Fear answers with a cheeky grin.
You roll your eyes. “No, seriously, what are you?”
“I’m Fear.”
“Seriously.”
“Yeah.”
“Well…why have I never noticed you before?”
Fear shrugs. “You’ve never bothered to acknowledge me.”

 

And that’s it. This pesky noun stirs up a bad taste in your mouth, a sweat on your brow, and a pit in your stomach. I’ve come to the conclusion that FDR had it right when he said “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” So feel free to hold me to that next time I’m begging you to kill a spider for me.


Before You Go
What fears have you overcome, and what are you still working on? How do you combat fear, worrying, and anxiety in your life? What Scriptures have helped you?
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