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Being Present

“Un-factoring” Our Fear

By September 24, 2014December 7th, 20204 Comments

One of my favorite scenes from the movie Anne of Green Gables occurs when Anne and Diana are taking a shortcut through the woods because Anne sprained her ankle and wouldn’t accept help from Gilbert. As they enter the woods, Diana tells Anne she’s afraid of going into the woods because Anne told her they were haunted. Diana asks, “Aren’t you afraid?” Anne responds, “Deliciously so.”

We, humans, are incredibly interesting. We’re intrigued and repulsed at the same time by ghost stories told around a campfire. We suffer from fears and phobias but willingly watch shows like Fear Factor. Why do our hearts thrill to things that frighten us?

Think about some common fears. Fear of:

  • Flying
  • Spiders
  • Reptiles
  • Heights
  • Water
  • Monsters in the closet or under the bed
  • Looking foolish
  • Disease
  • Germs
  • Being wrong
  • Death
  • Failure
  • Crowds

A few years ago, I was literally forced into completing an obstacle course that included a climbing wall (facing heights and using arm strength that I don’t have) and a zip line (jumping off a perfectly good solid platform into thin air). Why would anyone in their right mind want to do something like this?! It was part of a team exercise. I tried to come up with a viable excuse to miss out on the exercise that day, but there just wasn’t one – except my fear.

Therefore, I faced a choice. Was I going to give in to my suffocating fear or was I going to choose to face this giant head on. I reluctantly chose to face the giant.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t swallow. I could barely breathe. As I stood at the bottom of that climbing wall looking up to the platform, I decided to get it over with it. I had no conviction I’d get to the top but thought I’d better try anyway.

The good news is I climbed the wall – with major assistance and never looking down! However, my way down was the zip line. One more giant to stare down. I watched a couple of my teammates do the zip line which didn’t help my anxiety level at all. The only thing that would conquer my fear was to step to the edge of the platform, strap in, close my eyes, and jump…and pray like crazy the thing held.

And so I did. Guess what? I survived. And I don’t ever have to do either of those things again unless I choose to do them. Phew.

Rudyard Kipling said, “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.“ I’ve spent much of my life listening to the lies of my own fear.  By listening to these lies , I’ve chosen to miss out on something because I might get hurt or I might not be able to do it or someone might laugh at me or… .

Did you catch that simple word? Chosen.

By choosing to listen to the lies of fear, I’ve chosen to remain hidden from life; to miss out on opportunities because of fear; to forgo an adventure because it might be risky; to shy away from a friendship because that person is “so not like me”; to believe the lies in my mind.

Instead of experiencing all of life, I chose to shield my heart, my mind, my soul. I chose to hide.

We all face the same decision:  choose to believe the lies and remain hidden or choose to face the fear head on and learn something new in the process.

What are you facing today that cripples you with fear? What lies do you believe that have your feet cemented into place?

The Psalmist said: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Turn to the One who ultimately will show you the truth about your fear. He will give you the strength you need to overcome.

Will you join me in choosing to face our fears, one at a time, as we are able? Will you choose to be present today – to be fully alive today – to experience the extraordinary thrill that comes from facing down our fears ?

Today is too precious to waste by listening to the lies of our mind. I’m working on mine one at a time. We can do this together!

I’d love to hear how you’ve overcome your fear. Please tell me about it by leaving a comment below.

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