• 52°

The bondage of fear

Many of us live our lives with fear steering our decisions and behavior. We don’t come into the world shrouded in fear, so how do we get to a state of constant fear of something?

Children are maybe unwise in their choices, but they are fearless. Anyone who’s ever found a toddler who’s climbed on top of a bookshelf or had to bandage a burn from a little one who’s gotten too close to the flame, knows how much they live without fear.

We get hurt from running too fast, maybe fall and get skinned up or break an ankle. We get dizzy from climbing too high. We trust people who end up hurting us. Someone makes fun of us and we feel humiliated. Fear creeps in a little at a time.

We often give up the amazing possibilities which are set before us because fear has taken dominion in our decision-making processes. We don’t want to be hurt in any way. We don’t want to be rejected in any way. So, we shrink into a smaller place where we don’t take risks and feel protected as a pay-off.

One of the things that came out of my health issues last fall is my desire to live without fear. I don’t want to be foolish, or a daredevil. I don’t want to be reckless in my choices or irresponsible. But I don’t want fear to lock me in a cave and control what I choose or don’t choose.

“What would you do tomorrow if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

I heard a minister ask this question as I was flipping channels on TV today. I had to stop and reflect for a minute. What would I actually do tomorrow and the day after if I was absolutely, completely sure that I would not fail at anything I did or tried to do?

Over the years I’ve tried to face a lot of my fears. The fear of heights began when I was a child. Looking over the rail from a third floor down on top of a tyrannosaurus skeleton at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago terrified me. I clutched to the rail as tightly as I could and felt like I was still going to fall to my death on the glossy tiles below. I’ve made myself do things that stirred up this fear, like zooming through the treetops on a zip line with nothing between my feat ant the forest floor. I walked across Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge from one cliff to another with ocean waves crashing below when I was in Ireland.

Am I still afraid of heights? Yes, but I’ve learned how to make sure that fear doesn’t paralyze me.

When I was a youngster, I was the invisible child… quiet, silent, not wanting to draw attention to myself. Being invisible growing up in the city was a good thing. As a young adult who wanted to be involved in church work, and dreamed of becoming a teacher, I had to learn how to overcome my fears of rejection to find my own voice. I sang in church, taught Sunday school, and even sang at the Illinois State Fair. I had to learn to face people if I ever wanted to teach a classroom full of children.

I haven’t overcome every fear I’ve bottled up, but I’m working on it. Before I was wheeled into surgery last fall, I was in a state of perfect peace and the Bible verse came alive for me that “perfect love casts out fear.” I wasn’t afraid of death. In some ways I was more afraid of living.

Like many others, I want to overcome every fear that hinders me from living my life to the fullest and embracing every good thing that God sends my way in each day for all the right reasons.