We live in a fearful time.
Anger is often disguised fear.
People act irrationally when they are fearful.
Sometimes it’s hard.
Fear breeds empty girls – fake girls with no opinions. Girls who smile when they want to scream and laugh when they need to cry. We are not that girl. We are the ones they’ve called witches. The ones who have too much to say and who feel too much. We are the ones with fire in our blood and we are not afraid anymore.Brooke Hampton
Why do we experience so much fear?
Fear of nature
Many public places have signs warning to stay out of the water, off the grass…look but don’t touch.
I’ve witnessed parents, surely well-meaning, admonish their kids to not get dirty outside, don’t play there, don’t get in that, stay off the grass.
They’re supposed to get dirty and play in the creek, grass, woods, in trees.
Kids are washable.
Of course, nature can be violent and unpredictable and we should prepare for severe weather conditions.
But usually, there is no bad weather, and we should model for kids that nature is good in all seasons. We should teach and model respect and awe for bugs, animals, plants, trees, waterways, the oceans, the environment.
Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.Margaret Atwood
Fear of others
Americans seem to have always had an us/them mentality.
I’ve seen it in the news and on social media a lot these last few years. Immigration, racism, misogyny, poverty. It’s so sad.
I try to teach my kids that we are one human family.
We are global citizens.
What may not affect me or you personally still may affect someone we know, or someone they know. When did the commandment Love thy neighbor become exclusionary?
I am raising my children to be revolutionaries who are nonviolent and hopefully will help change this world for the better.
I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.Romans 8:38-39
Fear of the unknown
It’s normal to feel a little apprehensive in new situations and to worry about the future.
But when worry develops into paralysis or anxiety, it’s not healthy.
It’s easy to tell people to have faith, be calm, trust, and let it go.
It’s hard when we’re in the thick of a crisis or difficult time.
Looking back over hard times, it’s easy to see how I perhaps unnecessarily worried, but at the time it was so hard to be patient and wait for an answer, a healing, better times.
Fear of risk
As parents, we long to protect our kids at all costs.
But it’s healthier for them to understand risk – their own abilities and limits.
While I followed behind my toddlers to catch them if they fell, I soon took a more hands-off approach as they became preschoolers and school age.
Now, they’re all over age 10 and I am in awe of how they fly without my hovering.
Some healthy risk, of course, is fine, but taking it too far isn’t a good idea.
We need to strive to be debt-free and not take too much financial risk. We shouldn’t be daredevils and test fate with our lives. We need balance.
Fear of failure and imposter syndrome seem to be more prevalent these days.
Fear of real connection
I have realized there seems to be a shift in our Western society of lack of connection.
I see it in the rise of addiction.
I see it in the divorce rates.
I see so many broken homes. I see rampant abuse and dysfunctional relationships.
People are quick to live only on the surface, never really getting to know neighbors, coworkers, even their own spouses and children before it might be too late.
I have no friends. People unfriend our family on social media as soon as we are out of sight to our next military base. We are disposable.
They were more important to us than we ever were to them.
I see such lack of support for women – working mothers, stay at home moms. There is a lot of misogyny and childism.
Our society doesn’t respect women, children, disabled, or elderly.
Our society blames people for being poor. or disabled. or different. or Black.
Is is time to worry yet?
It’s not time to worry yet.Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Sometimes, it’s almost too easy to give in to panic and herd mentality. We are bombarded with fake news or information with tiny threads of truth and lots of hateful opinion designed to promote division and fear.
Anxiety tricks you out of the “now” as you obsessively replay and regret the past and worry about the future. It tricks you into losing sight of your competence and your capacity for love, creativity, and joy. It tricks you into believing that you are lesser and smaller than you really are. Anxiety interferes with self-regard and self-respect, the foundation on which all else rests.Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Fear: Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be Your Best and Bravest Self
Most of us are generally unaffected by the stock market, viruses that come from strange places, innercity turmoil, gas prices, racism, extreme poverty.
Gratitude and privilege will not save us.
Manage expectations, emotions, and reactions. Take it easy. Be proactive and stay flexible.
It’s how we react and what we do during times of emergency that show our true hearts.
Fear makes us grab traditional, routine ways of doing things. Or it might be so intense that it throws us for a loop and makes us run around wild. Both types are not the Christian joy Jesus speaks of.Henri J. M. Nouwen, Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety
From Adam Hamilton in Unafraid:
F: Face your fears.
E: Examine your assumptions in the light of the facts.
A: Attack your anxiety with action.
R: Release your cares to God.
Tip delivery people and wait staff well. Buy gift cards direct from local stores and restaurants to use later.
Wash your hands. Cover your mouth. Take your vitamins. Don’t in fistfights at Kroger over toilet paper.
Realize that others may have different lifestyles and experiences. Single parents struggle with child care. Wage workers can’t pay their bills if they don’t work. Some students are finding themselves homeless without their work-study programs, meal plans, and dorms. Overwhelming debt cripples this country.
Always be kind.
Don’t panic.Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love.1 John 4:18
Jesus calls us to rise higher than fear, worry, anxiety, judging, and not loving others in Matthew 7.
Are we generous or not?
You might like my other post about Fear.
What could you do if you weren’t afraid?
We’re all just walking each other home.Ram Dass
Being fully present to fear, to gratitude, to all that is—this is the practice of mutual belonging. As living members of the living body of Earth, we are grounded in that kind of belonging. Even when faced with cataclysmic changes, nothing can ever separate us from Earth. We are already home.Joanna Macy
In “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?” I talked about how so many Americans distrust and despise not only the obviously imaginative kind of fiction we call fantasy, but also all fiction, often rationalizing their fear and contempt with financial or religious arguments: reading novels is a waste of valuable time, the only true book is the Bible, etc. I said that many Americans have been taught “to repress their imagination, to reject it as something childish or effeminate, unprofitable, and probably sinful. . . . They have learned to fear [the imagination]. But they have never learned to discipline it at all.” I wrote that in 1974. The millennium has come and we still fear dragons.Ursula K. Le Guin
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