I was about to ride a snowmobile up a ramp onto a pick up truck for the first time. "I’m afraid," I admitted to my friend. "I want you to be afraid," he replied. Fear warns us of danger. It is supposed to make us alert and cautious, and, to that extent, it is good. It becomes bad when we allow it to limit us, when we become too afraid to really live.
I hit the accelerator and up the ramp I went. I quickly grabbed the hand brake and the sled stopped before hitting the truck’s cab. I did it! I felt great!
A lot of things have frightened me over the years: asking a girl for a date, speaking in public, facing a bully, writing exams, going to job interviews. Sometimes, I’ve let my fears keep me from fully engaging in this adventure we call life. Other times, I did the thing I was afraid of – and I’ve almost never regretted it!
Right now, I’m feeling somewhat afraid. My doctor says that my gall bladder has to come out and I’m nervous about "going under the knife." I’m also worried about the possible consequences: Will I still be able to eat all the foods I enjoy? Will my boss be okay with me taking time off to recover?
Generalized anxiety, paranoia, worry, obsessive compulsive disorder – they are all rooted in fear. If fear keeps us from driving drunk or playing Russian roulette, that is good. However, when our fears are irrational or in overdrive, and if we lack the courage to overcome these kinds of fears, they can really hamper us. It’s like wearing a sling on one of your arms all the time, because you are afraid of breaking it. You’d be so much more effective and happy if you took the sling off and used the arm. Really living life means that we are willing to live with risk.
One can only imagine the fear Jesus felt as He prayed in Gethsemane, knowing that soon the Jewish authorities would come to arrest Him. He knew that He would be humiliated, tormented and crucified. Yet, He overcame His fears and became the redeemer of the world. After Jesus was arrested, the apostles were so afraid that they fled. Even Peter denied Him three times. Yet, when the apostles witnessed the Resurrection, they overcame their fears and built the Church, in spite of a great deal of persecution.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid" (Psalm 27:1).