I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t afraid of something. I have encountered those who claim they aren’t scared of anything but upon deeper introspection, they realize that there are things in life that they worry about or that concern them. (Both worry and concern are milder forms of fear.) There are some common fears that the general population agrees upon: losing someone you love, becoming unemployed, street violence, death, war, terrorism, financial issues, natural disasters, speaking in public, being rejected by those who are important to you, and so on.
When I was a teenager, I took horseback riding instructions from a former NYC police sergeant, James Gannon. Horses are very sensitive creatures and pick up on the emotions of the rider. Any fear a rider is experiencing will be communicated to their mount and the animal will react. This could have devastating consequences for both rider and equine. Therefore, for the safety of both, the rider must remain confident and secure at all time. Sarge explained that there were two types of fear: rational and irrational. Rational fear are those issues where there is a legitimate concern for our safety and well-being. Having someone point a gun at your face while demanding the contents of your wallet is a rational fear. Hearing your smoke alarm sound in the middle of the night is judicious. These kinds of concerns trigger our innate survival instincts and put us in a fight or flight mode. They are designed to keep us safe and alive.
Irrational fears, however, can wreak havoc in our lives. They are based on erroneous perceptions that limit us from experiencing life to the fullest. The “what if’s” are a perfect example. Not fact based, they originate from assumptions leading to a perceived devastating outcome. “What if my boyfriend breaks up with me?” “What if I can’t lose this weight?” “I’m afraid of bugs.” There is no solid basis for our concerns and upon closer examination, these fears can be logically explained and dismissed.
While most people hold an outside circumstance or individual responsible for their fear, when analyzed deeper, we find that the real cause of our fear is wondering if we will be ok with our new circumstances. If I truly believe that I can survive the breakup of a relationship, then while I may prefer that it never occur, should the inevitable happen I am confident that I will survive and even emerge stronger. If I think I may lose my job due to downsizing but feel secure that God has something better planned for me, then I can rest easy knowing unemployment is merely a crossover to a better life.
So the underlying cause of our worry is not in the set of circumstances themselves. It is the level of confidence we have in our own resourcefulness and determination. Therefore, the more one believes in their own competency, the less worry, fear, and anxiety they will experience and the greater their level of overall enjoyment in life. On a deeper level, fear is a lack of trust in God. When one fully knows that God is forever with us, providing all we need to face our current circumstance, that each challenge brings us to a deeper understanding of life and ourselves, accesses untapped strengths and internal resources, and strengthens our relationship with our Creator. Knowing this, we can live with confidence and in peace.
Believe in yourself. Believe in God. Draw upon Him for all of your strength and valor. Let go of fear. You are far more competent than you realize. You are already equipped to survive and thrive from whatever unexpected challenges life puts in your path. And with each unforeseen challenge, your relationship with your Creator will be taken to a deeper level and that is the greatest outcome of all.