A friend of mine recently revealed a ‘greatest fear’. It was raw and honest, and I could tell because I could see it in my friend’s eyes. This fear ran deep, and it was fueled by recent and long-ago experiences, that all work together to cause this person to fear this one thing.
We are all afraid of something. Cite encouragement after encouragement, Biblical promise after Biblical promise, but we are human, therefore we fear. You might only be afraid to ride your bike (I am, even though I do it almost every day), or you might be afraid to have a family. You might only be afraid of the dark, but you might be afraid of love. You might only be afraid to try a new food, but you might be afraid of driving on the highway.
No matter the fear, it is inhibiting. Even the small fears; any anxiety tightens up your insides and sends fear and doubt coursing through your veins. Convincing you that the fear is greater than anything you could do to conquer it. Convincing you that you’re weak and cannot possibly move past whatever is standing in your way.
The thing is, we weren’t made to fear. We were made to be bold. We were made to live and love out loud, uninhibited by the earthly things that hold us back, tie us down, weigh on us day after day.
We live in a world that tells us to be afraid. Google ‘Keep Kids Safe’ and you’ll yield 328 million results. ‘Keep my home safe’ garners 256 million. The amount of security gadgets, apps, and devices available are staggering and while important, feed into an overall posture of fear so prevalent in our culture.
But what I’m more interested in is the soul-level fears. Of being alone, of never feeling healthy because you’ve been ill for what feels like eons, of losing the love of your life, of never finding the love of your life, of being rejected by your child, of failing at life.
Some of these fears we keep hidden in the deepest, darkest parts of our heart. We close them behind secret doors and let very few, or nobody, see or know what they are. They’re too powerful to speak out loud, because we can’t bear to think that they might come true. And hearing them out loud is kind of like believing they’ll come true.
So here’s what I think. I think there are two ways to move past our fears.
First, I think we should name them. I think we should speak them out loud, release them from our gut so they not only have a chance to breathe, but a chance to be released. When you release a fear, you give someone else the chance to encourage you toward overcoming that fear. Encourage us out of the holes we climb ourselves into.
Second, I think we should conciously make decisions that are in direct opposition to our fears. If we’re afraid of rejection, I think we should put ourselves in situations every day that offer rejection or acceptance. If we’re afraid of failing our children, I think we should be intentional about a relationship with them, seeking wise counsel and not being afraid to claim our fear of the unknown – yet universal – realm of parenthood. If we’re afraid of our own mortality, I think we should live as wide open as possible, making decisions that are wholehearted and full to the brim of life.
My own example: I used to be terrified of rejection. Just 12 months ago, I was a fly on the wall watching life happen. Cut to this weekend when I claimed shyness as my reason for not asking someone to dance. My friend responded, “Since when?” Because in my group of friends I am known as the least-shy when it comes to calling on male suitors for a two-step. 🙂 And I’m so glad, because I have added some incredible people to my life because of that boldness.
Fears can be debilitating. If we let them take over our spirits and our lives. Or they can be freeing, lifelines to living the fullest, richest, most wholehearted life we could have ever imagined.
Go on. I dare you.