“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself ” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Few would disagree that this world is becoming a more dangerous and uncertain place. More people admit to being afraid than at any other time in modern history. For a reason behind this climate of fear, you need only look at the headlines — Ebola outbreaks, ISIS threats, Ottawa shootings, domestic terror, wars, economic downturns, global unrest and climate changes. It’s hard to feel safe when everywhere you look, it seems the world is in trouble. People are naturally afraid for the future.
Adding to global fears are the many privately held fears that people have—mostly having to do with matters of personal health, security and safety. Among these concerns are fear of serious illness, tragic accident, job loss, financial collapse, violent crime, growing old and dying young. The media paints a grim picture of an America in crisis, which only adds to the level of anxiety felt by so many. Our fears are tearing us apart, says writer Julie Hanus:
For the first time in history, fear is tearing society apart. In the past, fear has engendered solidarity—as it did in the 1950s, when nuclear anxieties bound Americans together. Contemporary fear throws wedges between us. This isolation, in turn, renders the public ever more fearful. What’s more, media outlets, politicians, and businesses all have learned to capitalize on this distinctly modern sense of dread, and thus profit from finding ways to cultivate it. — Julie Hanus
Unlike President Franklin Roosevelt, who reassured a fearful nation in the face of hard economic times, present day politicians shamelessly engage in fear mongering for political advantage. These political opportunists are modern day Chicken Littles who play on our fears with their sky is falling rhetoric, all the while trying to convince us they’re trying to save us. It’s a strategy that has been used successfully time and again by both political parties. Somebody just needs to tell the truth.
What are you most afraid of? How has fear affected your life? Is your fear worth the time, place and energy you are giving it? What steps can you take to overcome your fear? These are important questions you should ask yourself. The idea behind these questions is to get you thinking about and moving toward a solution rather than giving in and letting fear control you. You may be unable to do it on your own. You may need the help of a professional. The point is do something about your fear rather than doing nothing and letting fear dominate you. The choice is yours to make. Here’s an example of what that looks like:
A. You hear something go bump in the dark. It frightens you, so run out of the house away from the noise. As a result, the dark remains a scary place for you.
B. You hear something go bump in the dark. It frightens you but you grab a flashlight and walk towards the sound and discover the source. The cat knocked over a stack of books on the counter. You’ve confronted the dark and taken control of your fear.
Fear keeps you off balance and not in control of the situation. Confronting your fear puts the power back in your hands. Gradually exposing yourself, under controlled conditions, to the thing you fear may help ease your fear. It’s like what we do with kids who fear riding a bike for the first time. We ease their fear by using training wheels and running alongside them until their confidence builds and they gain balance and control of the bike.
Perhaps, someone like a friend, pastor or therapist would be willing to walk alongside you as you work on conquering your fear. They can help you develop a strategy for overcoming your fear. Ultimately, it’s important that you realize fear is not your friend — far from it. If you let it continue, fear will completely destroy the good life God intends for you.
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. — Psalm 23: 1-4