Many of us (myself included at times) are driven by fear and even work from a place of fear. We fear things happening to those we love. We fear becoming known. We fear inadequacy. We even fear excellence. Some of our fears are irrational and some are quite rational. A healthy dose of fear can be a good thing, such as knowing not to run in front of traffic or handle poisonous snakes, unless of course you’re trained to do that. Not everyone is born fearless or skilled enough to pull off dangerous stunts like Evel Knievel, and I think he even suffered some major injuries and trauma! Fear is a natural response to danger, most of us want to get as far away from it as possible. At our very core, we have a “fight or flight” mechanism built in.
I have always been an anxious and fearful person. Can I blame my mother on this one? I don’t think so. While she instilled in me the fear of strangers…she’s certain almost everyone we don’t know is out to harm us, most likely axe murders or something! However, that isn’t my fear. I am afraid of heights (acrophobia), flying (aerophobia or aviophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), and snakes (ophidiophobia). And I used to even be afraid of the dark (achulophobia).
This past summer, I was given (aren’t I the lucky one?!) the opportunity to face some of those fears. I will not say conquer because doing something once or twice does not make me overcome it, but it does lessen the distress. Before we left on our trip out West, I had a few conversations that kind of fed my fear. First of all my mother insisted (no, demanded) that I be extremely careful. She mentioned my flying, climbing mountains, and the recent media frenzy of bedbugs. Then I spoke with my older brother who said he was glad I got to talk to him (such a funny guy!) in case I fell off a mountain and didn’t make it home. Then my elderly friend called and wanted my flight information in case she heard of a plane crash, she wanted to know whether we were on that flight. Then she told me that she would not rest until we returned because she was afraid some strange evil hiker would kill us in the wilderness. Then the final straw was my mother in law calling to inform me of the horrors of bedbugs in even five star hotels. She said that we needed to find out what kills them and bring it along to fumigate our mattress and room.
I decided that I could either let the fear lead my vacation which would make it unpleasant, or I could try to fit fear within my comfort zone. I tackled one issue at a time. The first one was flying. Had I ever been on a plane that crashed? No. Did I personally know anyone who died or survived a plane crash? No. Then came the worries about security. Did I know anyone who was hijacked? No. Ok then, even though there is a first time for everything, my fear of flying was mostly illogical. I decided to give it to God, and I actually boarded the plane with a sense of peace. Trust me, I never thought that would happen. I even got put through the body scanner on our return trip! No big deal there either! As far as climbing the mountains and scaling canyon slots, I focused on what was in front of me instead of below me. I admit I did not overcome my fear of Angel’s Landing and was glad we were unable to make that hike. (I need to be in much better physical condition to tackle that one.) Before we left, we did some research to find out what bedbugs infestation looked like etc….we checked our mattresses (even at the Mirage!) and all was well! I did not have to test my theory on snakes, though the answer is that I have never been bit by one, nor have I been bitten by a poisonous spider. I did come eye to eye with a couple of tarantulas on our hikes…and stared them down (or maybe they stared me down!) and went about my business. So at any rate, my fears were not rationally based. I faced them. I wish I could tell you the root of my fears, but I really don’t know. I supposed the key to getting past fear is by breaking down the walls and starting over. Or you can do what I really did and that was pray my way through scary situations. Hey, don’t knock it, it worked for me. Seriously. I think that if we can’t trust ourselves to protect ourselves, that putting our faith in something higher is certainly a valid answer. I can’t honestly tell you that I desire to climb up on the roof of my house or want a pet snake, or that I even purposely put myself in uncomfortable situations. I have come to the conclusion that I am only human and have only so much control. You can call it surrender if you want. I call it trust.