Franklin D. Roosevelt once famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Because fear feeds on itself. Once we start being afraid, then we constantly find things to be afraid of…and it begins a vicious circle. We become afraid and so we insulate ourselves from those things that we fear–and then we become afraid that we haven’t protected ourselves well enough and so we pull within ourselves even more…and more…and more.
Eventually we find ourselves living in such a little world that there is no room for anything but fear. We find ourselves like Rapunzel, locked into a tower away from anything and anybody that could rescue us…no door to open…and the sad thing is that we have done it to ourselves.
What are we so afraid of?
- The “other?” Someone who is different from us in some way (ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, religion, political, gender identity…)?
- Anything that challenges our long-held beliefs?
- The future?
- Being alone?
So how do we get over being afraid? It’s not easy.
It’s so much simpler, at least in the short-term, to hold on to our fears. They protect us…or at least we think they do, until they imprison us.
We have to face the fears…name them. Until we do, they will continue to hide in dark corners, ready to jump out at any unexpected moment.
We have to decide whether we are going to open the door and let hope come in…let faith begin to develop. We have to begin to understand that fear often begins inside us. Yes, there are some valid reasons to be careful and cautious in our lives–but not for every aspect of living.
Pulling the weeds of fear is difficult. It’s challenging. It requires us to be willing to listen to others…to even see ourselves in them. It requires us to be vulnerable, to be willing to accept pain.
But in the long run, it’s the only way to live. When we lock ourselves in the tower of fear, we’re not living. We may be surviving, but that’s it.
When we live, we see colors…we love diversity…we choose to walk with others–perhaps to give them company, but in so doing, we find we are no longer alone.
So what will we choose? Fear? Or opening the door to love and to hope…to life?