Over the last few days a few things have been bugging me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that was really bothering me. Then it struck me – fear. I’m not generally someone who fears things. Sure, I have my own fears (an irrational fear of heights that I keep trying to overcome, but continue to fail at), but I either face those fears as they come, or I avoid them all together. But I don’t dwell on them and allow them to control my days.
What struck me was seeing how prevalent fear is – especially on the internet. In the last few days I’ve read many things that deal with fear. Here are a few examples – here, here, and here. They are all great articles/posts in their own right. They all express their own frustration with fear in their own unique way. Some of these are blatantly about fear and for others, you have to see the subtle way they deal with fear.
I have a confession – it drives me nuts to see people allow fear to control their lives. Absolutely nuts. I don’t get it. Granted, there are times when fear grips me too (again, heights). Sometimes a little bit of fear can be healthy – it might actually save your life so you don’t go and do something totally stupid. But the key word is “little.” Just like most things – moderation is usually not going to harm you and will usually be beneficial for you.
But lately, it seems as though fear has been waging a war on humanity with a vengeance. It’s like fear is trying to secure a place with the big boys – the seven deadly sins – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. So I’m proposing that we modify the seven deadly sins and include fear as the eighth deadly sin.
I’m tired of fear having so much control over people’s lives. I’m from the US. For a country that was pretty much founded on the idea of taking a risk, you’d think that fear would have a little less control over people. Yet it does. You know the stories – fear around race, fear around finances, fear of government, fear of being robbed, fear of being sued, fear of weather, fear of flying, fear of driving, fear of eating something unhealthy, fear of not having health insurance, fear of those that hold differing beliefs, etc. Needless to say, there is a lot of fear around.
Can we please, please, please (I’m begging here) stop giving fear this much power over our lives?!? Maybe we should start by asking people what they actually fear. I wonder what would happen if people voiced their actual fears? Would fear lose some of its grip and power over people?
Maybe seeing all of the fear around right now is perfect timing. We just had Easter and one of the remarkable things about the Easter story is that it is full of fear. The disciples had locked themselves in a room for fear of being found. The women were full of fear and joy. An angel comes to tell the women that Jesus is risen and the guards at the tomb are filled with fear.
Fear is a part of what it means to be human, but it isn’t the sole definition of what it means to be human. Right now, I’m discovering that the amazing thing about all the stories of the resurrection is that Jesus continually comes into the lives of those experiencing fear and calms them. Jesus appeared to the 11 in the locked room. Jesus appears to Mary to calm her fears.
This of course wasn’t the first time Jesus calmed people’s fears – he calmed the stormy sea and he calmed the concerns of people going hungry by making the bread and fish feed the crowd. And that’s just for starters.
We will experience fear, but it does not have control over us, unless we give it permission to. Jesus comes to us in our times of fear and calms our fears, silencing fear so we can hear his voice and hear that the fear we are experiencing is a false reality.