I am thinking about fear. Yes, that's the "F" bomb I'm dropping! I'm thinking about it a lot these days, especially over the past few days. Watching political candidates use fear as a campaign tool of manipulation makes me nauseous. Reading about Boko Haram burning children alive in Nigeria, brings me to my knees in tears. Watching an episode of HBO's Vice on the rise of ISIS and the Iraqi militants who look to destroy them, and all those who have in any way contributed to that powerful rise, forms a pit in my stomach and a faster-than-normal heartbeat. Living with chronic pain and on disability while not having a clear path for sustainable employment in the future intensifies my headaches.
Here I am, thinking about fear in worldwide situations, national situations, and my own personal situation. Too many fears to mention - big, small, I've got them all! I have so much goodness in my life that I wonder why am I thinking about fear. Maybe it's because I'm a "sensitive" person and I care too much. Maybe it's because I don't have enough confidence in myself. Or maybe it's just because I'm fully human; fabulous, flawed, and open to feeling all the feels. With that knowledge, I realize that while I'm thinking about fear, and admittedly feeling fearful, I must not become paralyzed by fear. I cannot let fear be my travel guide on life's journey!
"The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. If you can live through that, you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face… The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line, it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
There are circumstances and situations where I have no control whatsoever. In those instances I am going to choose to see fear as a tool of awareness. Not going to put my head in the sand and then get kicked in the ass (imagine the ostrich with feathered tush exposed while head is covered)! I will be aware of the situation and of my fear. If there is something I can do to help promote awareness I will do that. And then there are circumstances where I do have some control. It is in these circumstances that I am choosing to stop hiding from the fear or avoiding the fear or pretending I'm not fearful. As Mrs. Roosevelt suggests, I will look fear in the face. Oh, it won't be easy. It definitely will not be pretty, but I will face my fear and know that it is a step towards getting past the fear. George Addair's words that serve as my inspiration this week, "Everything you want is on the other side of fear", serves as a mantra and a reminder of what is possible when one is not paralyzed by fear: everything you want!
What I have learned in the past few days of reflection on my own fears, I pass along to you, fellow traveller. Recognize the reality of what is and is not within your control, use fear as a tool of awareness, look fear in the face (and say "screw you"!), and never forget that everything you want is on the other side of fear. And, of course, courage is a most excellent travel guide.
Drop the "F" bomb! Here's to a more fearless journey for us all.
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.