A while back I ended up in a huge debate with my therapist.
“You were angry,” she said.
“No, actually, I wasn’t angry at all. I was just sad.”
“No, I’d encourage you to dig a little deeper with those feelings . . . yes, certainly you were sad, but you were also angry. And that anger has a deeper root as well. You were angry because you were afraid. That fear was driving everything.”
(Including my mouth, because that sadness/fear which ultimately was anger, caused me to say something that in hindsight, could have been left unsaid.)
After sitting there for a few minutes I realized she was right.
At the root of all those feelings of sadness, that day was anger. But because I am not typically an angry person, I didn’t want to admit that. But when she made me explore why I was angry . . . ultimately it was humbling to see that I wasn’t angry out of some indigence. I was angry because I was afraid.
Word on the street is that the command to not be afraid is in scripture 365 times. While I’ve not personally counted, those are some pretty great stats. “Do not be afraid” is scripturally present enough for us to confront every day of our lives with the promise that perfect love casts out all fear.
Fear masks itself in many ways. The way we deal with our fears is to get to the “root” of what is going on. What are we really afraid of?
Psychologists say that human fear can be condensed into one primal fear, xenophobia: fear of the unknown.
Fear of the unknown is universal but it takes form most commonly in 3 basic human fundamental fears: fear of death, fear of abandonment, and fear of failure.
In the Christmas story, we have angels telling humans four different times, “Do not be afraid.”
Mary, when she finds out she’s going to give birth to the savior of the world.
Joseph, when he finds out he is going to be the earthly father.
The Shepherds, when they learn of the new birth in the most unexpected way.
Zechariah, when he finds out that WAY ON UP IN YEARS, he’s going to be a dad (long after it is thought to be biologically possible).
They each encountered very real fears. But each time, even sometimes with a little wrestling with God, they confront their fears. Never do their fears win.
The best way to confront our fears is to recognize them for what they are. Tomorrow we’ll have an exercise we can use to do that in a very “real” way. Before that, however, what if we take some time to investigate those 3 basic fundamental fears:
What causes you to be afraid? And how do you mask your fears? Sadness? Anger? Avoidance? Humor?
It’s time to “not be afraid” to be afraid.
Grace and Peace,