An Unpleasant Emotion

fear 1

fear

ˈfir/
noun
  1. 1.
    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

    “drivers are threatening to quit their jobs in fear after a cabby’s murder”

    synonyms: terrorfright, fearfulness, horroralarmpanicagitationtrepidation,

    dreadconsternationdismaydistress; More

There you have it. Fear.

When I think of fear, I can’t help but to think of The Replacements and the classic locker room scene where the coach asks them to admit their fears. Watch it here.

I have come to believe the reality of life is that we are held back in every aspect of lives by fear. Fear takes on many faces and comes in many forms, but the ultimate reality is that fear controls us all at some time or another. Fear traps us and keeps us from being able to move forward in life. Fear inhibits, prohibits and limits us from moving. It paralyzes. It overcomes and overwhelms. It conquers and leaves devastation in its wake.

Why? Why do we let fear immobilize us the way we do? Is fear really that powerful? Does fear really have that much control? Has fear been unlimited power, rendering us powerless to battle against it?

I think what gives fear its power is the unknown or the intangible nature of what it does to us. There are times when our fears are rooted in reality or in previous experience. But many times, fear is not rooted in anything other than our own fear of fear or a fear of the unknown or fear of an outcome based on insufficient or incomplete information. Let me explain. On Friday I took the youth from Grace Landing’s group home to a high ropes course. A couple of the obstacles we tackled you had to climb a ladder for about 15 feet, then climb a telephone pole for another 15 feet arriving at the obstacle approximately 30 feet in the air. One of the youth was barely able to make it off the ladder. He was afraid of falling. His fear in that moment was fear of an unknown, or more specifically fear based on insufficient or incomplete information. He was wearing a climbing harness which was secured around his waist. He was securely attached to a safety rope by locking carabiner. The safety rope was proper rigged and secured to an anchor point. There was a trained professional belaying this youth. There was literally no way for this youth to be injured while at the ropes course, yet his fears kept him from experiencing the ropes course to its fullest. His fear based on insufficient and incomplete information – if he fell, he would get hurt or die. His fears were never going to be realized at the ropes course.

This happens to us across the expanse of our lives. We face situations and determine our course of action based on what we think could possibly occur and if it is an outcome we don’t like, we are afraid. We begin to fear the outcome and then fear has crippled us from completing the task at hand. Fear based on a possibility. A possibility that is just as likely to not happen as it is to happen. Fear is at its essence being crippled by the possible. Even when experience supports our fear, there is no guarantee the fears will be realized this time around. For the person who gets married and their spouse breaks their heart and leaves them, just because this was their experience it does mean they should withhold from engaging in authentic relationships with other for fear of being hurt again. They may be hurt again, but they may also find a rewarding relationship in which they are surrounded by the love they deserve.

Fear, in reality, only has as much power as we give it. Fear is only as strong as we allow it to be. Fear can only overcome and cripple us because we allow it to do so.

My hope today is identify fear as a force working against us, only having the power we give it. Tomorrow, I want to identify how to limit the power we give to fear.

How has fear limited or crippled you?

Quicksand

Found at: denvercounseling.com/quickstand-depression/

Found at: denvercounseling.com/quickstand-depression/

I love the movie the Replacements. Just a great movie. I think what I like the most about it is that it’s a movie about a team of underdogs captained by the chief dark horse. Just a fun movie with lots of humor.

One of favorite scenes is when they are in the locker room & coach asks what they are afraid of. Bees. Spiders. And finally quicksand. While I am afraid of spiders… on this list quicksand is the most terrifying to me.

Not quicksand quicksand. But quicksand where we get into something and begin to sink

The more we struggle or try to get out the deeper we sink.

Terrifying. It’s taps into our primal fear of not only dying, but failing too.

This must have been what Peter felt like when he got out of the boat. He gets out on the water a bit. And begins to sink. He has lost focus and is sinking. The more he struggles, the more he sinks because he is increasingly losing focus on Jesus.

We often beat Peter up for losing focus… but 11 other dudes stayed in the boat. Just an observation. Peter was apparently the only one brave enough, or dumb enough, to get out of the boat. But he did.

In the midst of the quicksand we find ourselves in, the answer is the same for us as it was for Peter. Focus on God. The Psalmist writes, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). The way out of the quicksand is to:

  • Be still – calm down. Breathe. Slow down and stop being frantic. When we feel pressed on every side it rarely is helpful to freak out. It usually doesn’t get us anywhere to flail arms and legs. Slow down. Focus on our options and see the way out.
  • Don’t panic – panic is never the answer. Unless you are being chased by a T-Rex… then panic is the only answer. James encourages us to be of sober mind & sound spirit, which doesn’t sound like panic.
  • Know that I Am is God – this is subtle here, but we can’t miss it. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt he told Moses to tell pharaoh ‘I Am’ had sent him to deliver his people. God’s name is an expression of existence. There is no question as to whether he is God of everything, simply because he exists. But this also reminds all who reads this, like God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, so will he deliver all who call on his name.
I write this from quicksand. This week my plate feels very full. I feel as though I am having a hard time balancing it. As I meditated on my situation these thoughts came to mind. I’d like to say I was praying or reading the bible at the time… but it’d be a lie. I was driving worrying about all I have to get done.

God is God. God is sovereign and the king of all things. I trust him with my life.

I’m not afraid of quicksand. Even when it suffocates me.

The Company Men

During the message on a Sunday in June at H2O Church Orlando a trailer for the movie Company Men was shown. This prompted Ronda to want to watch the movie. So we rented it last night.

There were parts of this movie that were hard to watch and that hurt. Several years ago I lost my job and felt many of the feelings that were portrayed by the characters in the movie. That’s what made it hard to watch. Seeing the feelings and emotions that I experienced being played by the actors in a movie. Watching on the faces of the characters when they had to tell their wives and children. When they realized the lifestyle they were used to had to change. When they realized having lost their job meant their children had to sacrifice too. Realizing that much of who they thought they were as men, fathers and husbands was attached to their jobs. And then those jobs were taken away.

This hit home for me in many ways. A few years ago I was in a similar situation in the sense that the agency that I worked for lost it’s contract with the State of Florida for case management. This was a very trying time in my life, it lead to a serious and deep bout with depression. It’s kinda amazing how much of a man’s (or at least this man) worth & value comes from his job. Being able to provide for and care for your family as a man is an incredible source of value and worth.

What this movie was able to accurately portray was how hard it is to overcome those feelings of insecurity and lack of worth. The pain on the faces of the characters was almost too close to home for me a couple of times. I don’t admit this often, but I almost cried during this movie because of feelings/emotions/memories it brought up.

Good job to the makers of this movie to catch the emotions and feelings of the human existence.

The flipside, I feel I must mention, to realizing everything that you thought gave you value does not in fact assess your value is that you begin to discover where true value/worth comes from. In what I would call my darkest times of life, is when I feel that I was the closest to God. It was during this time that I learned to rely/trust/gain value & worth from God and God alone.

I am a child of his first and foremost. Without that, nothing else truly matters. God values/LOVES me enough to die for me. Die for me individually, not in some sense of dying for all of humanity (which he did) but for me as an individual.

Me as a sinner and wayward child.

Me.

I am valuable. I am worth something. And that value and worth comes from God and his love for me, not my job or some other earthly experience.

This movie not only brought up feelings that were hard to process again, it also brought up much work that I did in my personal/spiritual life to be aware that I belong to God.

God and his grace are the preeminent defining factors in my life…

Where do you gain your sense of worth/value? Do you turn to God or something/someone else?

What happens when they let you down?

The Diary of God: Trusting God

I heard a sermon recently by a pastor who had recently returned from a mission trip to Honduras. He said that one of the things that struck him about the church they visited down there was the loudness of their worship service and he began to wonder why the service back at the home church wasn’t as loud. He postulated that one of the reasons was that we are concerned with what other people think about the expression of worship we are expressing. He also thought about that maybe we don’t know what it is like to have to rely on God for every need in the same way that the Christians in Honduras have to. This hit me for a few reasons. I think that there is a lot of truth to that. I began to consider myself and think about what motivates me to worship the way I do or don’t. It occurred to me that I have lost some of that sense of urgency in my life. I have forgotten what it means to rely on God desperately and intimately. I have adopted my culture’s attitude of being able to do it on my own without God, that it is easy to forget or to choose not to rely on him. Maybe this can be another aspect of being in his diary.  Am I trusting him with everything that I have in order to allow him to care for me? I think that I where this whole possibility of Gainesville (at the time we were considering moving to gville, remember that these were written some time ago) is coming into play. If I allow God to work it out, then whatever happens, we will be ok. I have to confess, to be able to live out this aspect of his diary… I’m going to need to pray and read the Bible a little more than my habits reflect me doing now. Right now, I’m not sure I can accurately gauge his will for me, as I am not walking close enough right now. It is hard when things are not going my way… Or anywhere near my way. Ever since we moved back down here very little has worked out the way we planned for me. I just need to trust more and allow God to be God.

***The end of this story is that if we fast forward to years later (that would be today) having trusted and waited on God has led me to a place in my life that can only be described as phenomenal.  This is the best place that we could have ended up.  It has been quite the journey on the way, but I can now see how trusting God and allowing him to guide me through the dark times was the only thing that got me through.  Trusting God is hard.  The better you know him and the closer you are to him the easier it is going to be, but it is still a challenge.  That’s why Jesus told us that we were going to need to daily take up our crosses with him… it isn’t easy… but it is possible.***