Scared $#!+less… a little too close to home

I’m just going to come right out and say it. No fanfare, no build up. I want you to see this, an actual clinical diagnosis:

Ecclesiophobia

the fear of the church

No matter what your stance is on the church, denominations, conservative vs liberal, liturgical or charismatic, there is an actual term for the physiological response of anxiety for some individuals who think about the church.

I can envision a soapbox some might get on that says “yes! see?! Down with the church!” But I hope that’s not your response. I hope this devastates you.

I can get up and rehearse my “the church hurt me” story along with the best of them, but I am proud to say that I haven’t given up on the church. I have a proverb I like to live by: “don’t complain about anything you’re not willing to help change.”

Pay attention, though. Look at these other related phobias:

Stygiophobia

fear of hell

How often do we play on this fear to get people to pray a Sinner’s Prayer?

Philophobia

fear of love

People coming into our communities are starting off at a deficit. Even if we could convince them that we’re more sincere than just being willing to shake their hand at the door or (God forbid) “high-five” them during our 23 second “greeting time” they are already having emotional responses to intimacy. If we can’t convince them they have genuine value to us as believers, how are we supposed to convince them of a God who desires that intimacy with them?

Scopophobia

fear of being looked at

It’s a good thing we don’t create environments where people who look different stand our or feel out of place… (sense the sarcasm people).

This isn’t just about our own fear, this is about how we help one another be courageous enough to overcome theirs. We don’t always have to walk through the valleys alone. We don’t even necessarily need to make bold moves of courage alone!

What we’re really addressing is… are people afraid of you? Do you care?

As you ponder, consider this as your vocabulary word of the day:

Zemmiphobia fear of the great mole rat

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Scared $#!+less…with great power comes…

I remember my grandparents talking about growing up during a rough time in America’s history.  The Great Depression was a devastating blow to the country and the current “recession” for all of its challenges really held no candle to the 1930’s.

In response to the collective struggle of the people of that time, it motivated an entire generation to take hold of their future and buckle down.  No longer were they going to be victims, no longer were the lack of resources or opportunities going to hold them back or oppress them.

So they went to work.

My grandfather (after he returned from his time serving our country in WWII) jumped into agriculture and worked sixty years in the cattle feed business.  When he retired, it took three people to replace him.

My grandmother on the other side of the family has worked in real estate for over forty years.  It was a value of life to work hard and the empowerment (or fear, let’s be honest) kept them working hard.

Today’s a new day and a generation is responding completely differently than the generations before to the idea of stability, the workforce, the idea of a “career,” and good old-fashioned elbow grease.

I believe the freedom’s we’ve grown up with and the lack of adversity we’ve had to face in our lifetime have made us both entitled to the following phobia but also at its mercy:

Hypengyophobia

fear of responsibility

There are a HOST of additional side fears that accompany this phobia, many of which we’ve already referred to (atychiphobia – the fear of failure; teleophobiathe fear of definite plans).  But this one is unique.

Another way we employ a “flight” response to our fears and phobias is through justifications.  I heard someone say recently “I’m not afraid, I just don’t want to.”  Here’s the harsh reality though: if you have to reassure yourself you’re not afraid…you probably are.  And let’s be honest…not wanting to looks a lot like a flight response to fear.

Because overcoming your fears is HARD WORK.  You’re right.  Choosing to fight the fear will be brutal.  Courage isn’t easy, preferable, and (especially in circumstances where your fears are hurting no one but yourself) quite easy to dismiss.

But taking responsibility is a movement without necessity.  In Jewish culture, boys and girls become men and women at a young age.  With great ceremony, a boy will celebrate a bar mitzvah which not only signifies his entry into manhood, but also the expectation that there will be s shift in his life where he will be expected to take responsibility.

Often times the reason we don’t want to take responsibility is because if we do, we could miss the golden opportunity.  We live idealistic that our dream job won’t feel like work at all!  If hard work hurts, we reason, then it can’t be the highest and best use of my time. 

In many cases, we want to GET ON WITH IT and will find a place to practice what we what to do instead of going through a developmental process to prepare us adequately for the task.  We have a Macrophobia or “a fear of long waits” about our lives and too many men and women from my generation are sacrificing the world changing contribution of “later” for the small, incremental projects of “now.”

Again I ask: who decides how this goes?  Are you stronger than your frustrations?  Are you in control of the time necessary to be groomed for an earth shattering contribution?

Look at your life.  If you’re not working hard, someone/something else might be in charge…and it might be up to you to take the reigns back.

Here’s your word of the day:

Xanthophobia – fear of the color yellow

(as an aside…no other color gets its own clinical name…just yellow…)

Scared $#!+less…are you afraid of the …

Mike and Sully taught us one thing: the monsters in the closet are terrifying…but mean well. Kids have always had an awareness of the scary things that go “bump” in the night. Their imaginations turn shadows into ghosts, air conditioners into howls, and household creaking into sinister prowling.

When it comes down to it, though, we’re all just a little achluophobic…

Achluophobia

“fear of darkness”

In my line of work I actually interact frequently with people that dare the darkness to hold some terror. I mean darkness not in the literally “absence of light” kind of way, but instead darkness meaning “evil.”

I’m amazed at our western society’s ignorance about the legitimate travesties that exist in the world. It’s one thing to hear the phrase “human trafficking” and shake your head at the unfortunate nature of this…cause. It’s another to walk the streets of the red light districts in Thailand and see baby bottles placed on the little altars outside of a bar to represent the aborted or lost babies of the prostitutes who work nightly at the establishment.

When I was in Thailand a few years ago, I heard from a teammate how they walked by a building on the strip where our contact told them about a recent raid by the government which found Ukrainian women chained to the walls released only to “service” clients with a particular eastern European ethnic taste.

That’s darkness.

What emotion did you just feel when you read that?

Did you feel indifferent?

Did you shake your head at the unfortunate reality of those “poor women”?

Did you feel horror?

What do you think you should have felt?

What’s your current emotion about hearing more stories like this? I’m not saying anyone likes it, but does that reality do no more than make you want to wear your money belt when you travel and stay in groups near well-lit areas?

Jesus wasn’t afraid of the dark. In fact, his constant challenge to us was to over come our social optophobia.

Optophobia

“fear of opening one’s eyes”

One of my favorite observations about Jesus was how often he was described as “stopping” and “looking.” He had no agoraphobia (“fear of leaving a safe place”) about interacting in places that were …

Dirty…

Smelly…

Undesirable…

Full of questionable people…

Different…

Do we go where we’re supposed to go or do our phobias decide for us where we can and cannot venture? Is there somewhere you “can’t” or “won’t” go simply because you’re afraid?

We all claim that “if God told me I’d go” … how sure are you that he hasn’t?

Scared $#!+less…metamorphosis

This week heard the phrase: if someone invented a shot that would keep dogs and cats puppies and kittens forever, they’d make millions.

Seriously…

I mean who doesn’t watch those vacuum commercials with the Golden Retriever puppies and go soft at the heart?

I’ve been watching in amazement my good friends’ baby has grown over the last 9 months. I held his fragile body in my hands the day he was born and a mere few months later, he’s almost walking, forming words, breaking in teeth and even recognizes me.

I watched an episode of a TV show I enjoy recently and heard this quote: “Change doesn’t care if you love it or hate it. Change is indifferent, intractable, and will not be denied.”

Change is the only constant. It is the only thing you can count on in the course of your startlingly short life and it’s the fabric of everything we know to be true.

It’s the war we have with existence. Even animals wear down paths to their watering holes as they go back and forth along the same predictable routes.

No matter what we try to do, we’re victims of our insatiable need for stability and live paralyzed by:

Metathesiophobia

“fear of change”

When we say “fear,” we’re talking about an emotional and even physical response to a stimulus we deem threatening or dangerous. The unknown, the disturbing, the upsetting and the deviation are classic anxiety-invokers.

I’m reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (it’s wrecking my world right now) and came across this quote: “People fear change…Though their situations may be terrible, at least they have a sense of control; at least they know what to expect. Change presents a world of variables that are largely out of their control.”

When it comes to ourselves, some of us are the kinds of people who can’t eat the same cereal for breakfast every morning (anybody with me?) But others are creatures of habit (like my roommate) who has eaten the same lunch every day for the last four years.

But when it comes to our personal development. What we’re talking about might be:

Enissophobia

“fear of criticism”

We talked last blog about the fear of imperfection, but this one begins to strike a physiological chord with some people, because criticism might require change. It hits us either because we can’t handle the possibility of humiliation (gelotophobiafear of being laughed at) or even the shame of having messed up beyond repair (enosiophobiafear of having committed an unpardonable sin).

At the end of the day, we’re either the victim or the victor and I believe we have the right to choose. The immediate stimulus might paralyze us so that we do nothing (freeze) or scare us away (flight).

ARE YOU LISTENING?!

This is serious people! The fears of change and criticism are running our lives. You are allowing something to make decisions for you and to dictate your actions. In fact, some of you might be in such paralyzing bondage to these fears that you couldn’t move if you tried. YOU MAY NEED HELP!

This isn’t how things were supposed to be. I assure you: if you confront this, you will take away its power and one day these fears will be a memory long forgotten.

Are you stronger than your fear? Maybe you should start acting like it.

Scared $#!+less … the dreaded “f” word…

“I’m counting on you.”

That phrase could have been uttered by anyone. Maybe it was said from a boss, maybe it was said by a friend, maybe it was said by a spouse, but this time…

It was me.

Eisoptrophobia is the fear of what could happen. It’s the rehearsal of that conversation that happens in your imagination as you prepare to explain yourself…to you. Literally, it’s “the fear of seeing yourself in the mirror.”

What happens when you reach that point between “I can” and “I can’t”? There’s a combination of excitement and dread as you step across that line realizing that you’ve just passed a point of no return. You’ve just jeopardized everyone’s opinion of you and relinquished the shroud of mystery that keeps people far more optimistic than they should be about your potential and competency. The question is actually safer than the reality.

Atychiphobia

“the fear of failure”

There are two major issues when we talk about atychiphobia.

1) On one hand, we’re talking about how others perceive me. Once I give them the following evidence, I can’t take it back. If I embark into this unknown territory of my capabilities, everyone who sees me will have incontrovertible evidence against me. Because I’m terrified that I will fail them, I fear losing what little respect they have for me (that I’ve micromanaged to the nth degree) and stand on the premise: feeling inferior is unacceptable.

2) On the other hand, I fear the reality that I may have to face when I finally discover my actual limits. What happens when I always thought I could, even boasted about it, only to discover…I can’t? The internal humiliation is almost more than I can bear and it uncovers another one of my deeply rooted fears: atelophobia (the fear of imperfection).

Many people see perfectionism as arrogance… I’m sure you could find some unblemished narcissist that genuinely thinks that way but most perfectionists I know aren’t arrogant: they’re afraid.

Remember, fear is that weird instinctual reflex where my body, mind and emotions react without my permission. We’re afraid and maybe even irrationally, but what makes fear so daunting is the fact that if I could control it, I probably wouldn’t allow myself to feel it.

The issue is: when fear threatens to control us, what do we do? Are we so afraid of failing, of the truth we don’t want to discover, or of disappointing someone else that we fail to even try?

Whether this is a moment of panic: the split second decision of “do it” or “walk way;” or the long drawn out anxiety/dread of choosing a “road less traveled,” there’s still a fundamental need for courage. Remember: courage isn’t easier, but it’s the weapon we have against living as a slave.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.”

Mark Twain

Your vocabulary word for today is:

Phagophobia – fear of swallowing

Scared $#!+less (part 2)

You know the ABC’s of CPR? Airway Breathing Circulation

You know the directions to give? “Go call 911 tell them we have a ___ who is ___ and THEN COME BACK.”

With all of the training I’ve received from the countless CPR/FA training’s I’ve been through there are only two things that actually freak me out. I’m pretty good in a crisis but if I encountered these two things I seriously don’t know what I’d do. Those two things are: amputations and infant CPR.

I don’t know why these are my triggers (fear’s like that isn’t it…a little irrational). I mean, burns, broken limbs with exposed bone, arteries bursting…there may be (in your opinion) way more terrifying medical emergencies you could imagine. But those two are mine.

What this tells me is that crisis isn’t actually that big a deal for me. In fact, it’s always the anticipation that robs me of sleep, that gets me to mentally rehearse worst case scenarios, and that triggers me to add things frantically to my “To Do List” at odd times. But once it’s here, it’s easier to face somehow.

One of the biggest concerns I have about our generation comes from an observation I’ve made over the last ten years. Little did I know that it actually has a name:

Decidophobia

“fear of making decisions”

Really?! There’s actually a clinical name for the epidemic plaguing our generation!? When I saw this I laughed and shuddered simultaneously (it would have been amusing to observe I assure you).

A few years ago some friends and I went on a Caribbean cruise. It was a blast and we used our lead up time before our departure to delegate out some tasks (navigation, packing special treats, learning the map of the ship, signing us up for meals etc.). It helped spread out the responsibility and made things easier but when all was said and done, it was I who volunteered to take on the task no one wanted: decision maker.

As amusing as it sounds, it actually made the entire trip smoother. Laura had the job of collecting everybody’s preferences and then getting them to me so I could make the decision of what the day’s activities would include, what time we’d meet for lunch, if we’d play shuffleboard or hit the pool, etc.

It’s not that I like making decisions but sometimes they’re unavoidable and the alternative of doing nothing is just as distasteful.

In all seriousness though, it’s disturbing. Look at this:

Teleophobia Gamophobia

“fear of definite plans” “fear of commitment”

There is a physiological response that our bodies, minds and emotions have when confronted with fear. These particular labels, however, describe stimuli that confront us with what we perceive to be a cage.

I talked with someone a few months ago about our generation’s obsession with “the backspace key.” It’s actually anxiety producing for us to consider putting ourselves in a place without escape (Claustrophobia). We’re so afraid not of the good selection we might have made or the positive place we may have ended up, but the sole reality that: there’s no way out.

These kinds of fears paralyze us. We miss opportunities and we actually convince ourselves that they are opportunities worth missing because the associated panic with having no perceived escape is worth avoiding. Do you hear this?! Good things missed because we’re unwilling to place ourselves in a potential place of regret.

That’s the real issue isn’t it? We’re afraid we’ll get something we don’t like. We’re afraid we’ll end up somewhere having rued our decision (ever ordered something at a restaurant that sounded good but was decidedly not?)

Some of you may need freedom from these fears.

Some of you aren’t realizing your destinies because you are entertaining these fears.

Some of you are stuck and THIS IS WHY!

Friends it’s time to get some freedom. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE! And you know what? You also don’t have to live with cherophobia (the fear of being happy). Don’t live in bondage.

Live free and make a decision for goodness sake.

As we go through this series, if something strikes a chord with you and you want help overcoming a fear in your life, leave me a comment and I’ll send you a declaration and prayer to help you dominate the fear in your life rather than be held prisoner by it.

Your vocabulary word for today is:

Omphalophobia – the fear of bellybuttons

Scared $#!+less

That moment when your heart starts beating a little faster…you know, when you can feel it in your ears…

It’s a mixture of horror… of disbelief… of regret…

It’s gone way past a simple adrenaline rush… it’s uncomfortable… maybe even painful… and all you want is for it to stop.

You think in your mind: can I make it stop?  FORCE it to stop… RIGHT. NOW.

Or maybe you think: where’s the nearest exit?  if I walk away now, it’ll all get better in a second.  If I can’t see it, it can’t see me.

Or simply: I don’t know what to do.

The emotion you’ve just experienced could occur for any reason as long as that reason involved a stimulus that invoked a negative emotional response commonly known as: fear.

I’m obsessed with the idea of fear right now.  I see fear running our lives and impacting almost every area of our generation and society.  It’s not a new concept.  In Genesis 3, the first emotion described after God said everything was “very good” was (you guessed it): fear.  Adam was “afraid” and so he hid.

Fear is absolutely always connected with the future.  Whether that future is a millisecond from now or a hundred years, there’s no way to fear the past (that’s called regret).  We always, always fear the future.

I’m doing a study on phobias which are fancy ways to identify the stimuli that we encounter which invoke these anxious or panic responses and motivate us to do one of three things: fight, fly, or freeze.

We’ll break this down over the next several posts, but I wanted to start off with the number one fear in our society today.  This one beat clowns, spiders and even death itself: public speaking.

Glossophobia

“fear of speaking in public”

Can we be honest for a second?  Picturing an audience in their underwear is the most unhelpful advice ever given to anyone ever.  It’s not funny and doesn’t actually defray my own anxiety about standing in front of people and making a presentation.

In my work with missions training, there is nothing more panic inducing than the revelation that all good missionaries will, at some point in their experience, preach a sermon.

Cold sweats, nausea and that general feeling in the pit of one’s stomach…yep it’s like clockwork.  Even the mere idea that preaching might happen motivates people not to learn and give a new experience a shot, but inspires them to mentally formulate innovative scenarios which often include self-administered injuries at critical points in time (ie. just before a church service) that will disqualify them from the assignment of delivering a message of truth to a waiting crowd.

We’re going to dive into this over the next few conversations, but honestly: what’s the big deal?

Many fears and phobias involve legitimately dangerous activities, such as:

Hoplophobia fear of guns                           Traumatophobiafear of getting hurt

Aichmophobia fear of sharp objects               Arachnophobiafear of spiders

Ophidiophobiafear of snakes               Selachophobiafear of sharks

Public speaking just isn’t one of those dangerous activities.  So what’s the problem?!  That question is not an indictment; it’s a curiosity.  I’ve seen people pass out, throw up, hyperventilate and even start sweating when they are about to take the stage.

There is something inside us that reacts involuntarily.  It controls us and tells us what we can and cannot do.  I want to figure out what it is.  Because I believe if we can conquer our fears, we can change the world.  There are messages that need to be spoken and I say:

THIS WON’T BE THE OBSTACLE THAT STOPS US!

As we go through this series, if something strikes a chord with you and you want help overcoming a fear in your life, leave me a comment and I’ll send you a declaration and prayer to help you dominate the fear in your life rather than be held prisoner by it. 

Just because it amuses me, here’s your vocabulary word for today:

Arachibutyrophobia – the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth