by Erin Dijkema
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As a child, I had a very limited view of the concept of fear. I was afraid of the dark, old haggish witches and particularly of being kidnapped. I felt they were pretty legitimate things to be scared of back then. These fears were of things that were tangible, things that I could always easily be able to separate myself from. However, as I grew, my range of possible fears grew and matured. They were no longer just tangible fears, but intangible fears that would affect my life eventually despite my efforts to avoid them. One could also say, if analyzed enough, two distinct categories of fears were formed; those healthy fears that saves those who listen from destructive danger, and those fears that seem to overwhelm us despite their irrationality and/or ignorance of significance of the thing we fear, such as fear of commitment or fear of change; we forget that some of these things are actually beneficial. These two types of fears can be further explained by comparing between those given by God and those formed, manipulated, and churned over and over by Satan (sometimes those given by God have also been distorted by Satan).
Fear in its simplest form is a wonderful thing, this emotion warns us that something wrong may happen according to previous experiences and certain repeating aspects at the moment. It prevents us from getting into trouble and hurting ourselves and others, purely from connecting the past with the present in a quick and reliant way. It also creates a sense of respect for the power that is out of our hands, thus creating an opportunity for God to demonstrate His complete power over everything. However, fears are quickly amplified with lies and distortions of the truth, replayed with a greater degree of urgency and revolt each time. The result is a fear that is completely unnecessarily overpowering. These fears are not only irrational in the sense of the reaction to the stimulant or suggestion, but they sometimes cause us to avoid aspects of life that are contrary to the nature of danger and harm. For an example, consider the fear of commitment. Commitment is a God-given characteristic of human life, one's life is devoted to God and his/her significant other. But past events and experiences plus the churning of imagination and doubts magnifying only the negative possibilities, commitment is seen as dangerous and destructive to one's self. This fear overpowers a person causing them to avoid situations in which this may occur. Now a fear of commitment to a marriage relationship with a violent man is reasonable and utilizing the true purpose of the emotion fear. But a generalized fear of commitment is detrimental. Same with the fear of change, or fear of losing everything apparently we alone have been working and planning our whole lives for, or fear of the future, or fear of rejection and abandonment; and the list could continue. The point is these fears run our lives more than we think they do. Think for a moment on any fears you may be harbouring inside you in the past week, the number may or may not surprise you.
The list could go on to include fear of correcting stereotypes, fear of failure, fear of succumbing to consumerism, fear of forgetting something important, etc. I recently saw an episode of How I Met Your Mother, where the main character Ted is offered his dream job, to be the architect for a building going up in New York City. Ted had been dreaming this up for years and already had plans drawn up. However he also has been teaching as a professor for some time. During his refusal for the proposal of the project to his friends Barney and Marshall, he explains that he has become comfortable in his life right then, and was willing to give up this once- in-a-lifetime-dream-come-true offer to keep it that way. He was fearful of the unstableness and insecurity of the architect business he had witnessed before, fearful enough to leave his dream unfinished. Eventually Ted comes to an epiphany while teaching class that he would not leave his dream unfinished and incomplete just as the architects he was lecturing on had been forced to with their buildings. He races to sign the deal he thought he had given up. The point of this example of legendary television was to illuminate the result of leaving your fears unleashed and unchecked with reality. Just as Ted eventually could not leave his dream unfinished, so should we not be afraid to stick with the plan God has for us.
The fear of change, commitment, the implications for the future, rejection or completely missing the mark of what God had planned for us should not overwhelm us to the point of paralysis. Praying over the fears we have and allowing God to guide us in our interpretation and deep meditation of the origin of the fears in order for us to calmly follow His lead is a hard but essential tool for Christianity. Many people I know have greatly matured in this, discerning from not only their own fears, but from other's as well, which are well-founded and given by God to avoid obstacles wisely and which are ploys used by Satan to weaken our confidence of the right path and to diminish our ambition to follow through. The tremendous amount of trust in God has created a deeper and stronger relationship that no detour will be able to stop them from following God's guiding hand. In a life living to the max, a motto introduced at a local worship conference in memory of a devoted and fearless Christian, fear distorted by evil forced on us at times of doubt has to be controlled and brought back to God's reality. It may not be our dream that needs to be finished (but it could be) by conquering a fear or two of intangible and sometimes unexplainable properties, but it is God's most holy and unfathomable kingdom that has ultimately yet to be built. Sure I still have a fear of the dark, plus some others lingering about, but that's the beauty of letting God untangle that festering mess, His comfort is never-ending. Let's not leave God's plan unfinished, live life to the max!
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