What are you afraid of?
I’m scared. Are you?
Specifically, as I wrote in my journal this very morning:
I’m scared – I’m scared of wasting my life, I’m scared of not being worth anything outside of the classroom.
Fear drives so many aspects of our lives – from how we dress, to how we raise our children, to how we elect our leaders. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, fear can play a large role in what/whom we worship.
For example, perhaps we worship God out of a fear of going to hell, or a fear of our inherited religion being wrong. We secretly worry that, like Donald Miller’s father accuses him in the movie Blue Like Jazz, we “only believe that stuff ‘cuz [we]’re afraid to hang out with people that don’t.”
Or perhaps we don’t worship God – and instead worship a god of our choice/invention – because we’re afraid of the implications of God’s existence.
Now, there is, I’m persuaded, a holy fear. A salutary reverence and awe in the face of the divine.
But that’s not what I’m talking about here, I’m talking about the paralyzing fear – the cold sweat, the white knuckles, the tension headaches.
I’m talking about the same kind of fear as Seth Godin:
Fear will push you to avert your eyes.
Fear will make you think you have nothing to say.
It will create a buzz that makes it impossible to meditate…
or it will create a fog that makes it so you can do nothing but meditate.
Fear seduces us into losing our temper.
and fear belittles us into accepting unfairness.
Fear doesn’t like strangers, people who don’t look or act like us, and most of all, the unknown.
It causes us to carelessly make typos, or obsessively look for them.
Fear pushes us to fit in, so we won’t be noticed, but it also pushes us to rebel and to not be trustworthy, so we won’t be on the hook to produce.
It is subtle enough to trick us into thinking it isn’t pulling the strings, that it doesn’t exist, that it’s not the cause of, “I don’t feel like it.”
When in doubt, look for the fear.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s knowing how to deal with fear. And, for me, the first step toward dealing with my fears is frankly admitting them.
- I’m scared, because I don’t know what’s next after I graduate from Beeson in December.
- I’m scared, because the thing I’ve felt called to for the longest time – getting a PhD in systematic theology – seems like an impractical pipe dream.
- I’m scared, because I don’t know if I’ll get into a PhD program. And, if I don’t, I don’t know how I’ll react to not being able to rely upon good grades for self-worth.
Thankfully, none of these fears prevent me from being faithful with the day I’ve been given – today. The greatest failure would be to use fears of the future as an excuse for present faithlessness.
So, what are you afraid of? How are you dealing with those fears?
Have you admitted them to anyone? If not, I challenge you to do so today.
If you’ve got no one, not even a journal, to listen to your admission, I’m all ears, for what it’s worth.