As a young adult 15-20 years ago, I loved to wear “No Fear” apparel. I had all types of No Fear Gear—T-shirts, sweatshirts, and shorts. Ok. I’ll even admit that I still have a few pieces of No Fear Gear left in my wardrobe.
As long as I can remember I have always had a fear of having a fear. I have never wanted to be controlled by fear. As I kid, if someone dared me to ride that skateboard down a steep hill, you better bet I was going to take it on. “I’m not scared”, I would say—even if I was terrified inside.
As a student, I never admitted fear to taking the toughest teacher. “I’m not scared.”
As an employee, I would take on a tough task. “I’m not scared.”
You get the picture. I was afraid to be afraid.
And, I had my interpretation of the bible to back me up. After all, God didn’t give me a spirit of fear, right?
But, in the last year I have discovered something about myself. I do have fears.
No, they aren’t the phobias that are listed in the latest edition of the psychological diagnostic manual. But, they are fears nonetheless. I have a fear of failure—what if I live my life without succeeding in my life goals?
I have been somewhat aware of this one for a long time. Recently, however, I stumbled upon another related fear after reading the interpretation of a personality inventory that I took. It is a fear of losing time. I thought long and hard about that one. “Do I really fear losing time?” I wondered.
Hmmm…Is that why I work nearly every evening until late into the night on trying to fulfill my passion after finishing a long day on my paying job?
Does this explain why my mind is constantly running at 110% in thinking about the short, mid, and long-term tasks that I have to complete? And, is this why my wife has been telling me for years that my hard pushing, perfectionistic, never stopping personality is so draining to her?
I could probably write a thesis on this topic. But, the main point to take away from this is that your fears (even if you think they are just your own albatross) can have a devastating impact on your marriage, children, and others around you. Think honestly about your own fears. Can you see any impacts on those within your sphere of influence?
With a glimpse of my own fears in mind, I recently had the opportunity to read Max Lucado’s new book, Fearless: Imagine your life without fear. This is an excellent resource for those of us who battle fear in some way. The author presents a number of different fears that paralyze us—keeping our minds locked into a type of negative spin cycle.
I personally was most indicted by two of the fears: (1) a Fear of Not Mattering and (2) a Fear of Disappointing God.
Are the core of my fears about failure and losing time really about feeling that my life on this earth mattered? Probably.
In this vein, you just have to read the excellent chapter in the book about the “Villagers of Stiltsville”. Do I feel that I am being less than optimally effective in being a good steward of the gifts that God has given me? Yes, I feel that way. But, it seems that I’m giving all I have to give.
Lucado, however, doesn’t just enumerate a list of fears. He begins with an accurate cultural assessment of how fear has become so engrained in our collective consciousness. It is almost as if we breed fear. We surround ourselves with material and psychological defenses intended to keep our fears in check. Yet, like one with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder we can never seem quite convinced that we have done enough to keep these fears at bay.
So, what’s the answer to reducing one’s fears—whether they are rational or irrational?
Lucado does a masterful job of using the life of Jesus to answer that question. The answer is “God is in control.” Whether it is a lesson in the midst of a storm, such as that experienced by the disciples on the sea of Galilee, panic over how to feed thousands of people with two fish and five loaves of bread, or in my case fear that my life might not matter, scripture tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made with a purpose.
Lucado gives a plethora of anecdotal stories and scriptural truths to crystallize a single thought, “A Life With God is Designed to Be Worry-Resistant.”
I didn’t say “worry-free” because we are human after all. What does it mean to be worry resistant? It means that you can channel your worry to God so that it doesn’t rest in your own spirit. Lucado gives a great mnemonic in Chapter 4 of the book to highlight the steps to a worry-resistant life. The acrostic is “P-E-A-C-E-F-U-L. Read the chapter to see exactly how you can overcome your own worries and enjoy a more peacful life.
For years I wore my No Fear apparel to make a statement to myself (more than others) that I cannot live with a spirit of fear. But, the book Fearless serves as a more poignant reminder that I have to relax and trust that God knows what he is doing. He’s God. I’m not! This is a lesson for us all to FEAR LESS.
What fears are impacting your life?