Why is Everyone so Fearful?

Without a doubt, we live in a time of many fears.

We’ve learned that we are to fear Covid-19.  Fear racism.  Fear Republicans.  Fear Democrats.  Fear white people.  Fear black people.  Fear immigrants.  Fear I.C.E.  Fear liberals.  Fear conservatives.  Fear climate change.  Fear China.  Fear the police.  Fear vaccines.  Fear the experts.  Fear job losses.  Fear mass shootings.  Fear our neighbors.  Fear politicians.  Fear the polar vortex.  Fear the NRA.  Fear ANTIFA.  Fear Biden.  Fear Trump.  Fear Missing Out (FOMA).  And even fear the media that feeds our fears.

Fear is a strong emotion in human beings.  It can help us take action.  Or paralyze us from taking action.

So how did we get to this place?

When we read in Genesis  we see that there was a time when our earliest ancestors had no fear.   And when fear did arrive (Genesis 3:10) it was because they had rejected God, His Love and His perfect plan.

It is clear that fear was not intended to be part of human history but was a consequence of the first couple’s decisions.

This is confirmed because when I read God’s word, it uses the word “fear” primarily in this context.

Fear the Lord.

This thought of “Fear the Lord” occurs over 500 times, if you care to count it.  But strangely I couldn’t find any that said anything about the fears I listed above.  So I dug deeper.  Dig. Dig. Dig.

I found over 300 times where the Bible indicates we are to “not fear”.

Deuteronomy 3:22  Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.
Psalm 27:3   Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this [will] I [be] confident.
Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
2Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Revelations 1:17  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Clearly God knows we have fear.  And He is trying to get our attention.  Despite His loving efforts, each of us experiences fear on a regular basis.

One web article on fear said we are born with only two fears.  

  • The Fear of falling.
  • The Fear of loud noises.

That got me thinking.  If I was born with only two fears, why do I have so many now?  And then my questions begin to grow.

  • Are all fears bad?
  • What are the characteristics of fear?
  • What impact are my fears having on my life and marriage?
  • Where did my fears originate?
  • When do I experience them?
  • Why do I still have them?
  • How do I get free from a fear?

So here is what I found.

Are all Fears bad?

I don’t think so.  First because God tells us to fear Him.  (Of course the word “fear” also can mean “respect”.)  That means some fears are “good”.  They protect us and alert us.  They give us focus.  They even cause us to work with others when we normally wouldn’t.  They remind us that we are finite and not as strong as we think and that we need help.

But there are fears that aren’t good for us.  These “bad’ fears lead to false beliefs, isolation, sin, crazy behavior, doubting God, distrusting others, hiding ourselves and our gifts, and seeking security in things that are temporary and unfulfilling.

What are some characteristics of my Fear?

  1. My fears seem normal to me.  I often don’t recognize their existence until someone mentions it.
  2. My fears are best observed by my behavior because my fears affect how I act.
  3. My fears limit my ability to live and love the same way as Jesus.
  4. My fears appear very real when I am experiencing them, but often foolish when I look back.
  5. My fears always exhibit a lack of trust in God’s provision for me, His love for me, His power over circumstances and His plan for me.

How do my fears impact my marriage?

In marriage, our fears cannot be hidden  As spouses, we are too close and too different.

Here’s a fear that Lou Ann and I have noticed in me.

When I go to the store for groceries, I have this compulsion to buy two of some items.  I also have a habit of asking Lou Ann if we need anything at the grocery store when we are returning home from a trip.  We discussed this odd behavior and have found an answer.

When I was younger, our pantry and fridge were often empty.  Each week I would take money out of my mom’s purse and go buy cereal or milk or bread so we had things to eat.  We lived in a small town and the grocery store was close by our home so I was a regular shopper.  Here’s the connection.

That experience years ago, led me to having a strong fear of “lacking food at home”.   This fear became part of my life then and even today I see this fear appearing in my buying behavior.  This fear affects our marriage because Lou Ann knows to stock extra basics (milk, bread, peanut butter, jelly, etc.), so I won’t experience this fear.

How about you?  What behaviors, based on fears, affect your marriage?

  • Do you not play some board games because you fear losing?
  • Avoid certain activities because you fear being injured, getting lost or being ridiculed?
  • Do you do things you know are wrong because you fear losing friends?
  • Avoid topics because you fear being uncomfortable or conflict?
  • Not eat certain foods because you fear becoming sick?
  • Avoid traveling because you fear harm?
  • Not begin something new because you fear failure?
  • Start something but not finish because you fear it isn’t good enough?
  • Fear saying no to others because you fear appear unloving or uncaring?
  • Not invite people over for meals because you fear criticism?
  • Avoid making new friends because you fear rejection?
  • Avoid deeper conversations because you fear exposure?
  • Hide your gifts and talents because you fear ridicule?

Let’s continue this conversation and answer the remaining questions in the next installment on Fear.

Quotes

  • Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. – Unknown
  • Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. – Marie Curie
  • I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
    The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

    – Nelson Mandela

Arroyo Fear

Questions

  1. What would you put on your list of good/bad fears?
  2. Do you have memories where certain fears might have started in your life?
  3. How do these fears affect your decisions and choices in life?

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