I’m 33,000 feet in the air, and I’m listening to the album “Dysfunction” by “Staind”. “Mudshovel” is one of my favorite songs by them. Hard, driving, dynamic, and for the ladies, danceable. Ok, I guess for some of the guys the danceable part is important too, but not this guy, unless I’m in front of my mirror with a fake microphone, or driving down the highway with the speakers blasting, using the steering wheel as a drum set.
Anyway, the song that inspired me to write this post is called “Home”. I have no idea what the song is about, I was just hearing the word fear over and over again. Fear has special significance to me. I’m sure it does to a lot of you to too. Fear ruled my life for so long. Mostly it was irrational fear. What does this person think of me? Will I be found out? Will I ever get married, or will I grow old alone? Do my parents really love me, or do they just tolerate me? Is this beautiful girl from Prague, who I’m sitting next to on my eight hour flight to Frankfort, who is speaking to me, doing so because she is enjoying the conversation, or because she feels pity for me, or is she just being polite?
Even more irrational would be what I’d like to term the roller-coaster fears. Will this roller-coaster jump the track around the next bend? Will the bar holding me into this car suddenly give way, and I’ll go plunging to my death? If I go too fast on my motorcycle, and something goes wrong, will I survive? Will the plane I’m currently on in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean have a malfunction, and go plunging into the sea? Are there sharks in the water where I’m swimming, along the beach in Ocean City, MD?
The problem with these fears, was not feeling the fear. It was the actions, or inactions the they would cause me to take or not to take. They would force me to make adjustments in my life to avoid what I was afraid of, or lash out against it, either of which would cause the fear to grow and fester. It didn’t matter whether or not my fear was rational or irrational, because my reaction would always be irrational, and it would always be more than what the situation called for.
Over the past year or so, and especially over the past several months, I’ve found the answer to this dilemma, and it’s pretty straightforward. You see, fear is a lack of faith. Either a lack of faith in something or someone else, or a lack in faith in myself. Ultimately though, if I take this just a bit further up the chain, or go a little deeper into my self-psychoanalysis, it is a lack of faith in God. Yes, I did it. I dropped the G word on you. I hope I didn’t lose you there. Don’t worry. My concept of God does not fit any predefined mold. In fact it’s constantly changing, and constantly expanding.
So what do I mean by a lack of faith in God then, if I don’t even know who God is. Well, just like I try to do with all of the relationships in my life, I pay more attention to what God does, than who God is. Who cares who God is? God is the concept of a guide, showing me the way, pointing me in the right direction, even if that direction is not the one I would chose. Sometimes God sends me to a place of joy, because what’s the point of life if we aren’t happy. But sometimes, God sends me to a place of pain, because out of the pain comes growth and knowledge. I’ve always liked the phrase, if God has brought me to it, then God will bring me through it.
Sometimes though, I chose not to listen. I’ve covered my ears and my eyes for a good portion of my life. Sometimes I know I am not making the right choice, because the choice I’m making may result in consequences that I’m not willing to endure. But then again, maybe that is God too. Maybe I am being guided, and maybe I need to endure those consequences, and maybe the path I think I am choosing on my own was the path God intended, because that path will offer me even more growth.
So how does this all play into fear? Well, if you ask any psychiatrist, how to overcome fear, they will tell to do what you are afraid of. They may not tell you to do this all at once, but instead, to progressively immerse yourself in what you fear. I believe that when I face my fears, whether this be through the guidance of a professional, or by my own personal choice, that I am actually being guided by God, and that God wouldn’t bring me to it unless he would stick with me the whole way through it. But it is always a choice, and as long as I’m keeping my eyes and ears open, the correct choice will always present itself.
So what do I do when I’ve made my choice? If I’m worried about what others think of me, then maybe I should ask them what they think. Fear based on miscommunication or a lack thereof is ignorance. What do I do when I think people will find me out? Well, maybe I need to ask myself what is it that I’m doing that I’m afraid will be exposed? I should confirm with someone I trust that what I’m doing is worthy of my fear. If I’m worried about marriage, or being lonely, then I need to make an effort to meet more people, and learn how to be a person who someone would want to marry. That’s right. It’s not about finding the right person, it’s about being the right person. If I am worried about the love of my parents, then I need to be a loving caring person to them, and to my siblings and my children, and for that matter, everyone I meet. Being strong enough to offer unconditional love is far more fulfilling than receiving it, and if you don’t agree with me, try it out for a little while and you will understand. If I’m wondering why the pretty girl from Prague is speaking to me and engaging in intelligent conversation with me and smiling at me, I need to just stop it. I need to enjoy the moment. I need to be Larry, and if I like Larry then she will too. By the way, if you are looking for an icebreaker when sitting next to a girl from Prague, just turn off your phone before the flight, and when God makes it blast the chime that it’s shutting down at full volume when you know that you put it on vibrate, and you turn to her red faced, but smiling, and apologize, that is called an icebreaker.
And what about that roller-coaster stuff? Well, maybe I need to decide how important it is, and if I decide that it is important, maybe I should seek help outside of myself to overcome the fear. And if I get to that place where a choice needs to be made, but I fear the consequences of making that choice, I need to remember that today I have a choice, and that today I am not alone. I can ask for help, and make the decision that will lead me down the correct path. But even if I don’t do that, and I make an ill-advised choice, I should do so without fear, because I’ve made the choice, the outcome is out of my control.
Fear is about losing something I think I have, or not getting something I think I want. But it’s mostly about a lack of faith that I am being guided, if I chose to listen. Today I do the things I fear. Today I learn from the mistakes I make along the way. Today the consequences of my actions are growth experiences to hold onto and carry forward. Today I see the hand of God pointing the way, and I have faith that even if I choose not to follow his guidance, that he will be on the other side, to help me to learn from the mistake I made, and together, we will move forward.