Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is Fear a Friend or Foe?

My initial plan was to focus my first few posts on the key ingredients of Faith, Love and Time. However, I write from the heart and what presents itself in the course of daily experience. Today, I had a conversation with someone that led me to focus on the topic of Fear.  Now if you remember from yesterday's post I included a photo of the Tower of Terror at the Atlantis Resort, or maybe it's actually called the Leap of Faith. I'm not entirely sure. I do know that to me it was a "tower of terror" and I had to take a huge "leap of faith" to force my body to propel down the crazy thing!

Some people believe that fear is the enemy and you must work hard to eliminate fear and make it go away. People have written books about this. Then there are those people that believe that fear is your friend and you should embrace it and use it as a catalyst to propel you into taking risks you otherwise would not take. People have written books about this philosophy on fear. So, who is right?

I believe that you cannot fully eliminate fear. It might feel like a disease that's consuming you in the moment. And you might be able to temporarily curtail the symptoms, but it is forever present in our nature. It's survival instinct. It keeps us on our toes. It makes us human. I also believe the antidote to fear is "faith".

We are faced with many different kinds of fears. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of what people will think, fear of whether people are thinking about us, fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of what we cannot control.  I discovered the ugliest fear that I believe anyone can experience and that is fear of losing a loved one. It's a world-shattering, painful, experience to fear that a loved one may be slipping away from this life. I realized today that I am not alone in this place. I spoke with a mother today who has just been told her child needs to have life-saving open heart surgery in a few weeks. She was distraught, guilty, and maybe even a little ashamed because the fear was consuming her. She shared how her friends and family just couldn't understand and kept telling her "don't worry, everything will be fine." Yet, I understood her. I got it. Because I've been there.

There is no stronger bond that the bond a mother has with her child. Other than the bond we have with our creator and with our faith.

And that was the answer I gave her. There is no shame in feeling fear. In any capacity of your life. Whether it's as significant as her situation and the fear of losing a loved one. Or whether it's the fear of making a career change or public speaking or whatever it might be that you fear. There is no shame. I realized it would have been illogical for me to tell her that the fear will go away. Because I know that it won't. It is ever-present. But I know that while it might not be possible to eliminate fear completely, it is possible to "tame the beast of fear". It is possible to put fear in "time out"!

This might be a little embarrassing to admit, but sometimes if my kids are arguing in the backseat of the car, the only way to get their attention is to turn the music in the car up really loud. I can't hear their arguing. And neither can they. So they stop!  I feel that is what we can do with applying our faith in the presence of fear. We turn up our faith so loud that it drowns out the fear! It's about exchanging the thoughts that are streaming through your head. It's about exchanging the negative "what-if" statements for positive "what-if" statements.

Fear also demands us to be courageous. It demands us to pull from strength we have deep down inside that we don't even realize we have. It challenges us to be stronger and better, just like a coach challenges an Olympic athlete to work harder. It builds mental stamina.

Here's a quote that I love from a book that is really worth reading:

"At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can't handle whatever life may bring you.  The truth is: If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear? All you have to do to diminish your fear is to develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way!"   
Feel the Fear, And Do It Anyway, a book by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. 

I believe it to be true that God doesn't give us more that we can handle. Sometimes it may seem like a lot. But if we operate from this premise, then we can find comfort in knowing that we are stronger that we may know.

So, is fear "friend" or "foe"? I say neither. Just accept that from time to time fear is going to sit down at the table next to you.  And, remember to call upon Faith to sit at the table along with you.

Love and Prayers,

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