"Fear is an idea-crippling, experience crushing, success-stalling inhibitor inflicted only by yourself. " - Stephanie Melish sales barista
Dictionary.com defines fear as "a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the treat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid." It can be something insidious that quietly robs of us joy or it can be something that reminds us or nudges us to safety. In my desire to transform many aspects of my life, I must tackle this concept of fear and frame it properly so that I can move forward and embrace the best of me and my life. As I contemplated this word, I determined three areas that the word fear is often used. The first part of the above definition refers to it as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger. At first glance this seems like a good thing. We should be concerned when we are placed in peril. But why is it we give way to fear, when maybe we should embrace "caution". If fear is that emotion that snowballs and keeps people paralyzed and robs them of experiences, then why embrace the word? My fears began as a child and they consumed me. I can see my children walking down the same path. Often religious texts use a word that is translated as fear; fear of God. At a surface reading many embrace this to believe that we should be fearful of God. Since we learn to fear at a young age, this creates a real roadblock when a person is trying to connect to the creator of the universe. Upon further analysis and study one can come to the conclusion that the word "reverance" should be used in how one views and approaches God. One would only need to do a quick google search to realize that the synonyms given for fear are negative in tone. Fear is truly a word that illicits negative thoughts and emotions in most people. Yet it is a word that is used to refer to cautionary behavior and to how we behave towards God. The definition itself uses strong words like danger, evil, pain, and threat. No wonder so many people are stuck in a life that lacks meaning; paralyzed by their fears and anxiety.
My word this year is "connect". The most important part of this is learning to connect to myself. As I contemplated the word "fear", I realized that most of my decisions in childhood and adult life have been governed by fear. Not caution or reverence but intense fear. There have been moments when I made decisions based on love or strong conviction, but it wasn't long before I was back on the road of letting fear drive my decisions. Don't get me wrong, I have a real tangible fear of heights. However, this fear doesn't stop me from doing the things I love to do. I still fly in airplanes but you aren't going to find me jumping out of one. I honestly don't have the desire even if the fear wasn't there. It doesn't diminish the quality of my life to have some fears. It is my aim and my hope this year to explore this concept. Since the beginning of 2016 I have embraced "caution" over "fear" and have seen some amazing results. I have attemped to shed "fear" of God and replace it with "reverance" in an attempt to make a stronger connection.
I will leave you with a simple story of how fear defined a period in my life as a writer. When I was in college, I took an advanced grammar and composition class. The teacher was a petite silver haired woman who always dressed like she stepped out of a page of Boden catalog. She embodied advanced grammar and composition through her proper elocution and crisp attire. I was overcome by her merciless grading of papers I turned in. I was so out of my league in this class. We were disecting sentences and writing formal pieces. With each grade that was passed back, an impending sense of pain would appear. By mid-term, I was questioning even taking the class. The writer I thought I was, the one I aspired to be, was slowly killed off in a semester of red correction marks scrawled over crisp white sheets of type written thoughts. I recieved a scarlet "D" for all my efforts. It took me five years to write anything after that class. Each time I picked up a pen, I felt anxiety. I was so fearful that maybe I couldn't write. Maybe no one would want to read it. Maybe the conventions and my inability to accurately disect a sentence somehow made me inept when it came to expressing myself on paper. That was 20 years ago and I still feel the ripple effect of it. It is difficult not to become saddnened by the realization that much of my life lacked richness. That the darkness of fear robbed me of some of the illumination that love could have afforded.
(Please take time to share your thoughts or resources on the topic of fear.)