October not only gives us trees full of colors, it also brings us a focus on tricks and treats; spooky creepy crawlies and caramel apples; pumpkin pie, squash soup and apple cider; endless bags of candy and old Frankenstein movies; Halloween and All Saints Day.
In our Youth group we always spend some time during the month of October talking about fears. Fear is such a strong emotion, something that all of us experience: the body’s response to danger. It can keep us “safe” to some degree or in some instances. Our fears can impact our lives in many ways, and not all of them are positive. Fear can cause us to pull back from opportunities or people. Fear can even give way to phobias: distressing emotions initiated by out-of-proportion-fears, both real and imaginary.
On a recent Sunday, our youth were sharing their biggest fears with one another; both those they had as very young children and those they now have as teens. They discovered that they shared many of the same fears. They could also see how their fears had changed as they have grown up.
Fear has been a part of everyday life for people throughout time. The Bible is filled with people and situations where fear is expressed. Those individuals had to somehow address their fears to do what God wanted them to do. How we respond to fear is where it gets interesting. Will we allow our fears to define us and our reactions to life? Will we face our fears with our eyes and hearts wide open, equipped with the knowledge that we are never alone?
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10
According to the internet, the #1 fear of adults is a fear of failure. Each of us has a “greatest fear”. Knowing that we are loved by a God who is always present with us, who loves us beyond measure, liberates us to live our lives to their fullest; enables our most creative sides to flourish unrestricted; gives us the courage to love more fully, to listen more deeply to others and to work wholeheartedly alongside God in the transformation of the world.
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon
In love, not fear…