“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Xenophobia…the fear of the unknown. It seems when we are faced with unknowns, we get scared. Those fears can be based out of our own negative past experiences or sometimes they derive from having a low self-esteem. And it doesn’t help that when we are fear-filled, we have physical symptoms that only make those fears real and exceedingly large. Symptoms like a rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, even full-blown panic attacks can cause us to retreat. Making us even less likely to try something new, something unknown.
The thing with fear is that it is also our early warning system. It alerts us to something that is not safe or could cause us harm. I remember going to Cedar Point with my children after Top Speed Dragster opened. It calls itself a roller coaster but in reality, it takes you 427 feet up and then 427 feet almost straight back down with a maximum speed of 120 miles per hour. It is not a roller coaster. It is in my humble opinion, a death trap. Although my son loved it. I remember standing at ground level looking up…almost falling over as I looked up…and decided that there was no way anyone would get me on that roller coaster…NO WAY. Was I scared? Yes. My fears told me that this was not a smart thing for me to do and I trusted those fears.
The problem with fear is that when we live in uncertain times and we do live in uncertain times, we can let our fears run amok. They become more and more irrational and we curb our behaviors based on what we fear even if those things we fear are not dangerous. If we do not get help to deal with the fears we have, they have the potential to become debilitating over time. So, if you are afraid of something that is preventing you from living a full life, I encourage you to get counseling to help you overcome your fear.
I think it is important, to understand that unknowns are all part and parcel of the human experience. We are not born with the complete knowledge of everything a human being can experience throughout life. Which basically means that we will have lots of unknowns to navigate. The thing is, we can’t know everything about life until we experience it and until we experience it…it is an unknown. Maybe this is what the circle of life is all about? Probably not.
Anyway…if we allow it, our fears will keep us from enjoying the best parts of life, all because we fear what we don’t know. I mean, even trying out a new food is an unknown. Until we take a taste, we will have no way to know if we might like it even if it does look unappealing on the serving tray. Please note here: I am not making fun of anyone who is fearful. I have my own fears that I work to overcome. What I am trying to do, and probably doing it rather inadequately, is to get us all, myself included, to face what we fear. To name it. Because once we can name something specifically, we are able to work through it and tame those fears we have. I don’t like heights all that well which is probably why when I stood looking up at the Top Speed Dragster roller coaster, I determined it was definitely not for me. And that is ok. My having a quality life is not determined by being able to ride a roller coaster. My quality of life is determined by being able to interact with other people, by being able to go out and enjoy favorite activities, and spending time with family and friends.
So, for me, placing my trust in God and what he is calling me to do, and then stepping out in faith, helps me be brave in the face of those things that I find intimidating or even fearful. Although I still won’t ride the Top Speed Dragster. God is my rock, and it is in God I place my trust. The question is: Where will you place your trust? Will it be in God? Or in your fears?
May this New Year that lays before us be filled with happiness and strength as we all overcome what scares us. (Still a hard pass on the Top Speed Dragster)