by Bil Aulenbach

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What Do You Fear?

These days, I am sensing that people have lots of fears. Maybe it’s because so many of the things that Congress is trying to do hurt the average citizen, such as repealing healthcare for millions, barring people from entering the United States because they are from Muslim countries, cutting services for the little guy, and lifting climate change restrictions. Maybe I’m watching too much television, reading too many newspapers, or listening to too much talk radio. I think politics can foster many fears, especially because so much political maneuvering is negative. Having a president who is black or a woman running for the highest office in the land provoked fear of change. Then there are those who fear Muslims, imagining that all Muslims are terrorists who are going to overtake the United States with Shira—Islamic law.

Fear of death is very high on the list. We all know we’re going to die, but we seem to be afraid to talk about or deal with this fact honestly. Vulnerability to violence is another fear, and yet so many of us buy more and more guns, watch violent sports, play violent video games, and watch violent movies.

Many folks fear getting old. Others fear that they are one paycheck away from hunger, homelessness, or serious illness without the financial means to cope.

Although I could list many more fears, the question that intrigues me is, why don’t I have a lot of fear? I know that fear is part of being human, and there is a fine line between being anxious and being fearful. At times, I am momentarily anxious. I also know that brain chemistry affects fear. Maybe I have too much of something or not enough of something else.

As a child, I had fears. One of my biggest was that monster who lived under my bed. Another was tests—oh, how I dreaded them! I honed my skills in praying when I faced a test. I obviously wasn’t very good at praying because I kept receiving poor grades.Once I learned the art of studying, I no longer feared tests. I also stopped praying—obviously, it doesn’t work.

Like all humans. I think about death. Maybe because my dad was a clergyman and death was part of my daily living, I became callous. I know that when my friend Brad was killed by a fire engine while riding his motorcycle, I developed the philosophy that there is a fire engine around every corner, and we are all terminal all the time—so why fear death? I also know that if I were ever faced with a long, lingering illness, I wouldn’t fear it—rather, I’d check out of here pretty fast. I know what quality of life is, and when that goes, I “goes.”

I also believe that being educated has helped me a great deal in blocking fear. I have twenty-five years of education, and much of that has included creative, critical thinking that has allowed me to analyze issues and develop answers. I seem to have this feeling that I can handle whatever life throws at me. It might not be easy, but I know I can do it because I’ve been tested.

Also, I am tenacious and don’t let go until I’ve resolved an issue. Maybe I’m too busy being tenacious to be afraid, but here’s my biggie. I think because I’m a faith-based person and my faith centers on the man Jesus, I have this great tool of agape love that seems, to me, to take fear out of daily living. Because I see the resurrection story as a metaphor, I have been given the tool of changing my own Good Fridays (bad experiences) into resurrection (or Easter) outcomes.

Do you have some effective tools for conquering your fears? I hope you’ll share yours in the comment section.

 

Image courtesy of Lorie Shaull. CC by-sa 2.0

3 Responses to What Do You Fear?

  • Like Bil, I do not fear death. I do, however, have a fear of lacking the capacity to act in my best interest and in the interest of others. I need mental and physical stimulation, and I fear being unable to access sufficient stimulus.

    When faced with stressful and fearful situations, I recognize my emotions, whether it be fear, anger, anxiety, or all of the above, and then recognize that the emotions themselves do not resolve the situation. I then set my emotions aside and I ponder creative solutions that could help me out of the situation. I then formulate and enact an action plan which would fix the problem for me and which could possibly help others work their way out of similar situations. I have strong faith that the great Creator will guide me through this process

  • As an RN for more than 50 years, I have no fear of death. I believe in an afterlife, but no organized religion as Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu religions all speak of afterlife. Every people/tribe in the world has a belief system. Colin Turnbull wrote, some years ago, The Mountain People about the Iks in Uganda who were dying out because they lost their belief system. As for fear, Winnie Churchill had it right.

  • I don’t have fear either. I have loving, caring children and many friends. But I no longer believe in an afterlife. I believe “this is all there is”. And I believe Jesus died over 2,000 years ago and did not resurrect. I do not believe Jesus was god in any way. Even Roman emperors thought they were gods but that did not make them gods. I believe early Gentile Christians elevated Jesus to a status of god to compete with the claims of those emperors. But I believe in the message of Jesus. I believe we are responsible to not only live the best and most peaceful life possible but to do all the good we possibly can in any circumstance.

    But I believe in God and I believe God is with us through the good times and the bad. I do not believe God controls everything. I believe God does the very best possible to influence us to good decisions through persuasion not coercion. I believe we make the decisions of our life and God will not interfere in that. But I believe God loves us and wants the very best for us. But that is ultimately up to us. But we will all die so we should not have fear of death.

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