Responding to fear
During my early years, I did my responding to fear and courage without courage. I wanted to live void of fear and full of courage. After all, fear causes many unpleasant sensations like feeling hot yet with cold skin, shortness of breath, a knot in the stomach, and the strong wish to just run away and somehow hide.
Besides carnival rides, one of my first tries to overcome fear was during my years in middle school and the football team with boys larger than me. I spent much time getting up after others had knocked me down. I was afraid when I signed up for football and my 1st few practices reinforced my reason for the fear. I wanted to quit the team.
Unfortunately I had another problem, a fear of other boys teasing me for quitting. Obviously, my fear of teasing was greater than my fear of hurting since I did not quit. Yet I never had true relief from fear. I simply replaced one fear by an even greater fear. Yet I discovered real “courage” – doing something despite fear because of a something larger.
Years later, while I was in the latter time of my undergraduate degree, I met and became best friends with Mary who later became my wife. Again I experienced a strong fear, a fear of family responsibilities. But this time the solution differed. Rather having a stronger fear overcoming a weaker fear, a love for another in a greater purpose overcame my fear of responsibility. When we act out of perfect love this love casts out our fear. We read in the Bible, 1John 4:18 that, “perfect love casts out fear.”
I am older now and I have learned our choices are not fear “or” courage, but fear “and” courage. In fact, I have come to believe that without fear there is no courage–only an absence of fear. We can address fear by overpowering fear with a greater purpose – God’s perfect love through us toward Him and for other people.
How do we put this into practice?
We practice God’s love by “being in the moment,” in an intimate connection to God, while unselfishly keeping our focus on the other person’s needs and interests. It means ignoring our needs to do something greater, like helping or serving a loved one, an employee, a neighbor, or someone simply less fortunate than we are – all a product of love. God invites us to be in the moment with Him and let His love overcome our fears of the moment.