What are you afraid of ?
When I was growing up I spent alot of time in different churches. I also spent a lot of time at Camp Calumet — both places are considered religious and I had one major fear when I was by myself in the dark…..I was afraid that Jesus would appear.
Now when you are done laughing I can explain myself!!
I have read in so many Bible passages where Jesus would appear to someone and they were afraid, and he would say something like “peace be with you” or “do not be afraid” — Come on Jesus!! You appear right in front of me with no warning and you don’t wand me to be afraid!?!!?
Even though my fears seem silly looking back, they were very real at the time. However, there are bigger fears in the world – there are fears that prevent us from leading a normal life. Some of the fears that might be pretty common and are some of the biggest barriers in people’s lives are the fear of success, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of commitment, fear of being alone, fear of abandonment, and fear of change among others.
Generally speaking fears can be broken down into different categories — pain fear, relational fear, self-esteem fear, and fears that we are born with.
I believe that most of our fears are learned not genetic. That means we can learn to not have them!
I also believe that communities can develop a commonly shared fear. Look at churches…..nothing blocks change quite the way fear does, and when its power is greater than your power to push through it, fear is devastating. Perhaps that is why it takes FOREVER to make changes in the church.
So many people in the pews of the church have constant change in their lives. For example, people come and go, they lose jobs, change jobs, move, kids grow up. The one thing people are craving is stability — and they are looking for that in the church. We want a church that is the same from the time we are born until the time we die.
So the question is what does fear prevent us (the church) from doing and what do we do about it?
Fear persuades you to do less than you are capable of doing. If we are afraid we tend not to take chances, to take risks and to think outside the box. We are afraid of having the wrong answers or making mistakes. We convince ourselves that things should not change and in turn we end up not really knowing what we want or need. It warps our perception of our community and changes what we think we can do to make it better.
Fear keeps us from asking for help when we need it or benefiting from the emotional support offered to us. Churches can be amazing supportive communities. We all need help in our lives and we are sometimes afraid to ask for help when we need it. I as a pastor want to be there to support you when you are hurting or in pain — emotionally, physically, spiritually or any other way. I might not have all the answers but I can be there. Instead of looking towards the church for help we develop unhealthy habits and behavior patterns.
Fear can control your life if you let it. But you can push through it if you can relax physically and mentally, and develop the habit of taking well-chosen risks – small ones at first, then bigger ones. Affirmations and visualizations are a great help too. If you get into the habit of vividly seeing yourself achieve success, you can overcome the paralyzing effects of fear and move confidently into the good life you deserve.
What types of fears do you have that are preventing you and your community from positive change? What steps, even if they are small ones at first, can you take today, or this week?