“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks
This weekend my son and I went to a soccer tournament for his club team in Las Vegas, Nevada. I would have normally caught a plane for this trip, but the schedule was so unpredictable we had to make the approximate 9-10 hour trek, via car. About four hours into our trip, while driving on a dark and remote highway, I ran over something that I didn’t have time to avoid. Suddenly, this fear came over me as I thought about my tire deflating or worse, blowing out suddenly. I pictured myself on the side of the road, underneath the car trying to replace my tire under very duress conditions, like poor lighting (really no lighting), very fast cars whizzing by me at 70-80 mph and lastly, being in the middle of frickin no where. Not the most comforting thoughts to have while driving alone with a clueless teenager aboard thinking everything is cool. Now changing a tire is no big deal, (been there, done that) however the thoughts of me being out there alone with my son in the car, while lying on the asphalt changing a tire brought about a sense of trepidation, and I’m usually a pretty calm person. We all have our moments I suppose, but as I reflect on some of the times that I was faced with fear, I recall experiencing various forms of emotions, like doubt, anxiety and worry. Basically all the emotions counter-productive to hope, faith and having peace of mind. Often these emotions are paralyzing and will more often than not produce a predictable outcome.
Unfortunately, one that usually affirms the fear, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For example, tell a kid they will never amount to anything all of their lives without any intervention, and that is what will most likely occur for him or her. Not because you are clairvoyant, but more importantly because you can influence the future with your words, whether they are words that produce life or words that destroy. That power exists within our mouths. Imagine that.
My Christian beliefs tell me to, “Fear not, for I am with thee” – (Isaiah 41:10 KJV). What I have come to understand is feeling fear is perfectly human and quite normal for us all. It’s what we do with the fear that changes lives. A deer in a headlight freezes due to fear and quickly perishes due to inaction. Like that deer we can become consumed with what lies before us and give up or we can feel the fear and choose to act, move on or press ahead with life. The problem tends to be that we don’t know what “pressing ahead” looks like on the other side of fear, so our propensity to remain comfortable consistently stifles us.
That propensity can become your personal prison, keeping you locked up for a lifetime serving you various forms of mediocrity as your daily bread.
I can admit that I am familiar with both sides of fear, from choosing to get married a second time for all the wrong reasons and allowing fear (amongst other things) to dictate my choices in that moment, which instigated a long trail of pain for me and others. Why didn’t I just say, “I can’t do this, you’re not the one for me?” The simple answer, with complex consequences to follow was pure unadulterated fear in all it’s glory. I was afraid to speak my truth because I didn’t want to hurt anyone, therefore I hurt everyone, including myself. So even with seemingly good intentions, a fearful mind will cultivate lies to protect itself. Be aware of what you’re not saying to yourself and others, and more importantly be aware of why you’re not saying it.
What you don’t say can hurt you!
Now on the flip side, when you face your fears head on, although it can be a very sobering experience, it can be equally rewarding. I recall several years ago I was comfortably working for another company of 13 years. I had no reason to leave, until one day I received a call about a position coming available. It was something I had never officially done, but I did have years of experience in the affiliated field. So after much prayer and consulting with a few close friends and my mentor, I went for it. Almost eight years later I can say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made with regards to my career. In this scenario my specific fear was change and stepping out of my comfort zone. It took courage for me to take the plunge to a totally different company, but it was certainly well worth the risk and the temporary feelings of discomfort I experienced, which really turned out to be an illusion of my own thoughts of what could have been versus what my reality was. Don’t get me wrong, I am no proponent of taking unwarranted risks or not planning out next steps, however there may come a time in your life when you simply have to dare to believe that something greater lies on the other side of fear.
Choose to take a step where there is no step.
When we take a moment to think about it, the greater risks usually lie in doing nothing at all. Although it may seem easier because it requires nothing from us, it actually takes more effort in many cases to do nothing. The energy required to bear and endure something we know we should address can cause us more grief than we care to admit. Inevitably to remain seemingly safe and ultimately stagnant, does not bring peace of mind, but instead it produces a form of mediocrity in disguise. Something each of us should ponder when we come to understand how fear has entrapped us.
I realize there could be many clinical reasons why fear comes upon us, whether suddenly like my car incident or something looming deep within our hearts that never seems to go away from us. Whatever the case, it’s important that we acknowledge the fear and if we need support or professional help to face it, we should pursue that, because the alternative only perpetuates what we already know and live. I finally got tired of that life. Hopefully you are encouraged to stop living in fear as well.