Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don't Be Afraid

We spend more time than we would like to admit being afraid. Fear isn't very useful for a Christian because it often turns us away from love. When we are afraid, we often become the most limited or the most self-centered versions of ourselves. We can find ourselves unable to see the bigger picture or to react to the other needs around us. But God tells us that we don't have to be paralyzed by fear. We can trust in His love instead.

Sometimes we fear for our personal safety. Right now, worries about swine flu are high in the United States. Some people are trying to jostle their way to the top of the vaccination list and others are completely shunning anyone who might be the least bit under the weather. This is only one small example of the survival instinct that makes us shove others out of the way if we think they're between us and safety. Our fear convinces us that our bodily health is the most important thing, but from a Christian standpoint love should be more important. We can't allow ourselves to put fear above the love we feel for God and our neighbors whenever we feel threatened. What's the worst thing that can happen to me if disease, violence, or natural disasters strike? If I die, I will find myself in the arms of a loving and eternal God. What is there to be so afraid of?

I think that on a deeper level, death and injury aren't really what scare me most. What I'm really afraid of is pain. There are so many ways that we can get hurt, and that leaves us with so many things to be afraid of. Although I know that pain is temporary, I still fear it. I'm afraid of unknown physical experiences like surgery and childbirth because I worry they could be very painful experiences. I'm even more afraid of emotional pain. Sometimes I'm afraid to take risks in relationships in case the other person doesn't respond well. I may be unwilling to make an overture out of fear of rejection or afraid to address a problem because an argument might ensue. Some risks may not be worth it, but I need to be able to overcome fear of pain if it's stopping me from reaching out in love. I wasn't created to live alone in a safe little shell. I was designed to be with others, to get hurt but also to heal and to grow.

A certain amount of caution is prudent in some circumstances, but I don't want that fear to stop me from fully living the life God gave me. For example, I'm afraid of falling. I decided that I needed to try to combat this fear so that it didn't become too strong, so I signed myself up for ice skating lessons. The first day I got out on the ice, I could barely move. I had to hold on to someone's hands while I practiced picking up my feet, and my muscles were trembling they were so tense. Slowly I gained confidence, and even though I had to take the basic adult class twice, I am now reasonably comfortable on ice skates. I've fallen a couple of times while skating, and it wasn't too bad. I feel a little more relaxed every time I skate, and I'm slowly becoming willing to try more advanced maneuvers. I don't want to become paralyzed when things come along that scare me. I want to be able to respond as calmly as possible, and challenging my fears in reasonable ways helps make me more able to do that.

I am going to get hurt, and that's a fact. My fear can't protect me from everything. It's true that a little healthy caution keeps me from doing foolhardy or reckless things, but getting carried away with fear is foolhardy in and of itself. I don't want to let fear interfere with my ability to love others or to live a full and rewarding life. God's love changes everything. The things that scare me just aren't as real as I may be tempted to think they are, so I don't have to be afraid.

No comments:

Christian Love Lessons - Free Blogger Templates - by Templates para novo blogger