We might struggle to reconcile this, but fear is actually a very good thing for us.
I had one of those little periods happen to me recently where I allowed lots of little things to get on top of me: much work achieved; lots of interaction with people (which I find draining); many things on my ‘to do’ list; a struggling to keep up generally. As a result I started living a little too edgily—for me, anyway. I could feel the tension in my chest and upper back. I could feel my heart bearing up under the strain, warning me to rest ‘or else.’
As a result of pushing myself maximally for an extended period, I began to lose all my hard-earned peace and rest-of-spirit. I didn’t get there, but I felt like snapping at people who broke my focus; those perhaps with a legitimate need of me, but those who were interrupting me all the same.
In only the matter of a few days (or a week or so at most) I felt like I was breaking down mentally and emotionally, driven at the whim of external factors.
Then I learned something afresh! It’s a wonderful life-bringing thing.
I was being driven by fear—all sorts of manifestations of it. Fear of being late; fear of being early; fear of interaction (when I’m normally quite self-confident); fear of missing the mark... fear of not capitalising on every opportunity.
I was getting back into one of my fatal flaws: perfectionism. Ironically, my perfectionism was creating rampant imperfection. I thought I’d dealt with this! But, like our anger, we never really deal one-hundred-percent with those fatal flaws, do we?
My most interesting and enlightening reflection was this. Fear is a necessary catalyst building block that is intrinsic to life. Where we’re not tested we gain nothing of real note from life. Fear-saturated stimuli give us opportunities to distribute love as a response to the situation, ourselves and others. We focus over the hedge and cruise over in our love, or we run into it confounded by the damned thing in our fear.
Like almost everything in life, we obliterate the negative with a flourishing flooding positive.
“As we live in God, our love grows more perfect... such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.”
—1 John 4:17a, 18a (NLT).
Every day is a brand new start.
We may’ve been controlled by fear and externalities the previous day, but then we simply start the new day on a positive, happy and proactive note, swept away almost mindlessly in a peace-filled joy. Fear cannot possibly break in.
We find in this the cherished wonder of leaping over our troubles in love.
© 2009 S. J. Wickham.