Scared… Last Thought…

So after weeks of realizing how paralyzingly scared we really are and discovering that many of us share the same basic fears, only one question is really left to ask…

No seriously, so what?

What if it’s all true?

What if you really are afraid?

What if the past really is a tribute to landmine discovery?

What if the journey till now has been avoidance, denial, or rejection of the path in front of you?

The answer isn’t some of the standard “reconditioning” techniques used by psychologists (ie. letting spiders walk all over you to “cure” your arachnophobia).

The answer isn’t hiding out and managing your life around your fears so you can “survive.”

The answer isn’t just enduring the panic or anxiety.

There’s something to the process of becoming men and women who walk, not fearless, but courageous. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, remember. You may always have one more reason to be afraid. The question is about YOU and who you want to be.

1) You need to decide how important it is to BE A PERSON OF COURAGE. If it’s not important to you, nothing will change.

2) You need to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do something every day that scares you.” If you don’t actually ACT like a person of courage, you’ll never actually BE a person of courage. It should be normal to overcome.

3) Call it what it is. “It’s fear.” “I’m afraid of this.” “This makes me feel anxious.” If you don’t identify your enemy, you can’t target them. You need to LOOK the fear in the face and say “YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

4) Sow into other people’s freedom. There’s nothing like cameraderie. One of the biggest problems with fear is having to face it alone. Walk others through their fear and let them walk you through yours. TALK about it! The devil’s in the secrets.

5) MAKE IT WORSE. Okay, this might sound like weird advice, but I read in a story. The characters were confronting fears and they had to either stop being afraid or be courageous enough to make it worse. So if they were claustrophobic and found themselves in an enclosed space, they had to make the space smaller to pass the test. If you struggle with a fear of rejection, PRESS INTO RELATIONSHIP. Put yourself out there. If you struggle with control issues, LET OTHER PEOPLE DECIDE. Let them order your meal for you. If you fear the unknown or the future, have people wait until the last minute to tell you what’s going on.

Do something to PROVE to yourself that it. doesn’t. own. you.

2 Timothy says “GOD hasn’t given you a spirit of fear.” It says instead: “[GOD’s given you] a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Come on friends. You can do it.

Scared $#!+less … get out of the way Reject…

In all my research two particular fears I believe are dominating our generation never came up in a clinical diagnosis. It actually surprised me because out of all the phobias we’ve talked about over the last couple weeks, I probably reference these more than any others.

Fear of Rejection

This is one of the most debilitating, anxiety-ridden fears I encounter. In fact, it has its own dysfunctional psychological expressions. This fear is frequently manifested as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you deal with this fear pay attention because you may find that you participate in this:

I’m afraid that others will fail to accept me or even flat out reject me. I’ll live as an outcast, unliked, unwanted, and I have enough physical evidence and experience to support this (irrational) claim.

Thus, I can’t possibly be sure people are genuine when they say that they care about me. I have to make sure they’re serious so I test them. I do objectionable things, even push them away to see if they’re willing to fight for me.

People aren’t used to being mistreated (not like I am) so they distance themselves, confused at what I’ve just done and inadvertently end up dismissing and ultimately rejecting me.

See? I was right. Nobody wants me, nobody would fight for me, and the sad thing is, they didn’t even see the real me yet.

The other fear I found sadly missing was:

Fear of being out of control

It has been a startling revelation for me to discover that CONTROL IS MANIFESTED FEAR. I want you to think about it. Control freaks cannot handle, maybe even have these biological, instinctive fight or flight reflexive responses to: not being a decision maker or holding the responsibility for some task or stewardship.

You know those individuals who MUST have it their way?

… who are DEFENSIVE about their behavior?

… who go aggressive (or worse passive aggressive) when their TERRITORY is encroached upon?

… who are critical when it is done DIFFERENTLY than they expected or wanted?

So often, this is not about arrogance, this is about fear. You excuse it as preference or even accuse others of being inconsiderate or incompetent, but actually: you’re afraid.

These fears are debilitating friends. They don’t look good on you. And here’s the deal: YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO LET THESE GO IF YOU ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE FREEDOM!

You’re going to have to give up your claim that you are the ONLY advocate for your acceptance. Live accepted by the Lord and let Him provide people to unconditionally accept you…even if you don’t unconditionally accept yourself.

You’re going to have to stop caring so much about things and ask yourself if the anxiety or even anger you feel when you’re out of control is an accurate expression of the person you want to be.

Remember: if you say you can’t help it: YOU’RE PLAYING THE VICTIM CARD. Unless something is legitimately controlling your actions and pulling the puppet strings of your life STAND UP AND TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY.

You’re in charge here.

Here’s your vocabulary word of the day:

Anthophobiafear of flowers

Scared $#!+less…Occam’s Razor…

I’m trying hard to figure out how to land this plane. The list of phobias we could talk about is literally pages and pages long. We haven’t even talked about anuptaphobia (the fear of staying single) or neophobia (the fear of new things). We’ve only grazed the surface of the idea of autophobia (the fear of being alone) and haven’t even breeched dysmorphophobia (the fear of a real or imaginary body defect).

Then there are issues that I may bring up in our next post that don’t have clinical names but are legitimate, life affecting, freedom threatening fears.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific theory that says: “when in doubt, the simplest possible explanation is usually the right one.” My conclusion is that our culture and generation is quite:

Panphobic

fear of everything

It just seems to be true. Fears are at the fabric of our curse. It started with Adam but the end is still a toss up. One good courageous move is a beautiful, yet short-lived celebration. For fears come up again and again and require bravery to deeper and deeper levels. Not to be fatalistic, but they’re the battle we’re here to fight.

But one issue that we haven’t addressed comes on the heels of this rather sobering declaration. It comes down to this: do we live in fear because we don’t know any better or could we, in fact, have:

Eleutherophobia

fear of freedom

If we use our standard description, eleutherophobia is a biological, reflexive response to the idea of living outside our prison cells. It’s different than agoraphobia (fear of leaving a safe place) because it’s not just danger we may face, but responsibility.

We don’t know what to do with this freedom. We’re so terrified of failing (atychiphobia), or having to make decisions (decidophobia), that we CHOOSE BONDAGE.

How is this possible?! How do we accept that this is our life and that this is God’s intended expression for our destiny?

Is this nothing more than being so wrapped up in the “what if” on the other side of the curtain that we wallow in our dank cell? Even if our worst realities were the reality of “the other side”… do you want to go out a fighter or a prisoner?

You only get one shot at this life. Is this how you want it to play out?

I want to share some paths to freedom in our last post in this series, so stay tuned.

Here’s your vocabulary word of the day:

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobiafear of long words

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

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