So I am blissfully going along my merry way, casually speaking of “fear,” as if this was the most normal thing in the world, totally shameless about it in fact, when someone quite kindly reminded me that men and women may have a slightly different attitude towards fear.
Good point. Ah ha! Female privilege strikes again, because there is truth there. I can quite happily skip along, confessing to fear of snakes, flying, driving, flat tires, failure, germs, success, death, until I have presented myself as the most phobic person on the planet and nobody would even think twice about it.
Guys not so much. Guys are not supposed to be afraid of harmless garden snakes. Somebody is going to make fun of you if you were to confess such a thing. My husband would probably tell you he was totally fearless and if you ever caught him in a moment of fear, I bet he’d just deny it. He’d definitely scowl at me.
I speak of fear often, mostly because God has led me to confront each and every one of my fears and handed me comfort and healing in exchange. God is good, God wants to make us whole. He is called the Great Physician for a reason. I used to be filled with anxiety, so many fears, from the rational to the irrational.
Fear is actually a kind of faith, it is just putting your faith in all the wrong things. Sometimes it is even about putting your faith in future imaginary negative events that haven’t even happened yet. Future tripping.
Fear is related to a need for control. When the Lord called me to address some of my fear, it was much like jumping out of airplane without a parachute. A complete loss of control that obviously is not going to end well. In God’s hands however, it ended well. It always does if we can trust in Him. Faith is all about trust.
There are some real treasures to be found in our fears and today fear does not paralyze me or control my behavior. Nor do I have a powerful need to control things around me, even future events, which are obviously going to all be totally my fault if I don’t figure out how to influence them with excessive over thinking. Seriously, that was the truth lurking behind some of my fears. I had forgotten that God was in charge and will handle things with or without my help. I am not the one in control.
Guys have fears just like women do. They may look a bit different, they may not be as socially acceptable, they may even be more repressed, but they are there. I bump into them all the time. We are all people, a bit different perhaps, but still going through things that are common to the human experience. Fear unfortunately, is common to the human experience. It is such a significant part of our nature, that some people say the bible speaks of it 365 times, one for everyday of the year.
God did not give us a spirit of fear. We are even called to go boldly before the throne of grace. We are not “bad” because we have fears, but left unconfronted, repressed, they can fester, harm us, limit us. Our fears are like treasures waiting to be discovered and set down at the foot of the cross. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Fearless people of faith can be downright powerful, so powerful we can actually change the world.
I am all for fearless men, absolutely. When men of God can stand up and worship fearlessly, it is a glorious thing indeed, and women will follow that lead, and children, too. There is truly nothing better than men of God who are unafraid and fearless.
However, we cannot become fearless by simply swallowing our fear or denying that it’s real or pretending it doesn’t exist. What we swallow just nourishes us and grows bigger.
A pastor recently gave a good talk about fear of failure and he was quite right, all of it, but what we tend to fear most are actually the good things, love for example, and success. That sounds crazy at first glance, but love makes us vulnerable, love can hurt. What we are willing to love we also risk losing. Success is similar, sometimes it is far less scary to remain where we are than to risk disappointment and loss. Our irrational fears are not always as irrational as they seem on the surface.
In fearing what is good, we will push it away, intentionally or not. You see this fear play out in many evangelizing atheists, they must assure you that the God they don’t even believe in is not worthy, bad, terrible, not good. It’s not the wrathful God of the old testament they fear, it is the goodness of God. The goodness of God is what makes us vulnerable, softens our hearts, and leads us to grace.