Fear, how much of it do we need?

Fear is a strange, funny business. When you have a bit of it you can be saved, when you have too much of it, it can destroy you. Is there any way of measuring fear? One cup or two per day…maybe a tablespoon each hour. Fear is funny. I see my toddler running up to me when she hears a loud noise. I see her run to her daddy and hide when she makes a mistake. And we laugh. But on the other hand, we want her to fear some of the things, such as heights; “Nooo…You cannot jump head first to the floor, Jenna.”

Now it’s my son’s turn. At the age of seven Jon faced bullies at school. Some older kid grabbed him the other day because he refused to give this boy a stone from the fortress that Jon had built with his friend at the playground. Being a worried mother, I asked Jon “What did you do?” “Nothing,” he said, “I slipped away”. “Good!” I answered instantly. Then I started to think, “what am I teaching him? Should I tell Jon to stand up for himself next time and then get beaten up? Or, should I tell Jon to run away just like he did? Will he then be running away from his problems all his life? How much fear should Jon use in this case? A gallon?”

Jon is a very slim little boy but taller for his age. As a mother, I fear that he might get hurt. His smart brain and sharp words can get him into trouble sometimes. He can come up to you and win a dispute with a strong argument, while another day he will just lie to your face because he fears punishment. Who punishes him? No one does. At the age of 4 he learned that when mommy says: “We need to talk in your room, alone,” it means that mommy is not going to punish or hurt him.  Mommy is going to explain what he did wrong. At first he would scream when he heard the words “talk” and, “your room” in the same sentence. Then he started to realize that that wasn’t such a bad thing. It was hard forcing myself not to giggle every time I heard him reassuring himself while climbing up the stairs; “Talk??? OK. Talk is good.” So what did he fear and who taught him fear?

Fear is in every one of us. It is part of us and just when you think you have gotten rid of it; it sneaks up on you and strikes back at you even stronger than before. However, we cannot do without it. We must fear punishment, pain, injustice, and justice in our daily lives. If there was no fear, this world would be in total chaos. Fear is what keeps order. But how much of it is order and how much of it is self-destruction?

I watched the movie Passchendaele the other day and burst into tears. I saw how wild the fear can become. A war can show you the real face of the fear. You can kill another human, an innocent person standing in front of you just because he is there on the field of battle wearing your enemy’s uniform. You fear that if you are not fast enough he might kill you first. How many of those individuals were forced to be on that field? But who cares? You cannot be logical anymore. You have no time, you fear. We fear everyday of our lives, and we kill to survive, maybe not with guns. We live in a modern society, and so we don’t just shoot with guns. We also use words. We kill feelings, moments, relationships. We kill to survive. Watching this movie, I burst into tears and asked “Why God, why?”

I struggle with my fears each day and each minute. “Should I say this or that?…will I hurt someone if I say it?….but isn’t this for their own good?….who am I to tell them that? ….tell the truth…what truth?…Depends on how you see it….Fear, Fear, Fear…I bet you too, as you read this article, are struggling with some of your fears, and sometimes we don’t even consider it fear, we call it dilemma- thinking things in detail- analyzing things to prevent the worst outcomes. The strange thing is that sometimes it doesn’t go the way you plan things. Sometimes too much thinking and trying to prevent things can backfire. So what do we have to do then? I use this strange, old method, but it works; I follow my heart, not my brain. But how much could heart know?  Heart does not think, cannot be logical, or see things. How can your heart get you out of trouble, fight fear or plan the right future? Well, the beauty of this is that the heart has no brain and it does not think.  Therefore the heart knows the exact amount of fear. It knows when to run away and when to stay still.

Well, well, you might say, nothing new here. How many times have we heard, “follow your heart”? Many times, I know.  The problem is that in our daily, busy lives, we need a fast tool for measuring fear, and the heart is a bit too slow. First of all, you must be quiet to hear it. You go to the doctor and he can hear your heart, but you must not talk when he puts the stethoscope over your heart, and it would be best if you take off those layers of clothes (feelings) so the doctor can hear your heart better. You see, it’s not easy to listen to your heart. The brain, on the other hand, is always there for you, talking to you, analyzing things for you, and unfortunately, bringing fear to you. So what to do? “Why God why? Why did you create such a complicated machine that fights its own self?”

While complaining about our human fate, for some reasons I thought of a strange answer. “What if God was not done perfecting Adam and Eve when they decided to eat the forbidden fruit and therefore multiply, bringing other complicated humans to life? And so the human race started its journey. A complicated but not perfected creature, humans have to face the consequences of their choices.” So what will be the solution, if there is any? The solution is God, trust in God. He is the creator. Therefore He, and only He, has the solution, the blueprints to the perfect human machine.

So, I decided to revive this strange and old way of listening to your heart instead of the brain full of fears, and it works. It’s called Prayer. Yes, the little voice of my heart maybe hard to listen, but a prayer at the right moment shuts down fear and makes everything quiet for me. It is magical. A prayer, just a simple prayer such as, “God show me the way,” or “God fight my fears,” or “God give me the right words to say,” is all it takes. A simple, very simple prayer fixes the problem for me. Long hours of praying didn’t really help. A quick prayer at the right time worked like magic.

I grew tired of praying for hours and hours and hours until I fell asleep. I prayed for days and days until I was praying like a robot, without paying attention, thinking or even meaning what I was saying. I didn’t really see any results this way. I prayed, then what? My fears were still there, my problems were still there, my bills that I had to pay were still there. Nope, praying harder and longer did not give me any results. I only got results when I was quick at praying right then and there, when I needed God to guide me. I did not wait to go to my basement, my room, a special or sacred place to pray. I did not wait until everything was quiet and I was all alone. I prayed then and there, at the moment I needed help.  Instead of relying on my brain for help to get the solution and forecast the outcomes of my actions, I asked God, quick and clear; “God help me!” To my astonishment, things clear up, so quickly sometimes that I could not help it but cheer like a child with a “Wow! God you love me so much! Do I deserve your love God?” I feel like I reach the sky sometimes, but then, in the next step, I stumble again, I fear again. Problems are everywhere again. The imperfect machine; brain and heart not so coordinated, as we know. However, now I know where to download my worries and fears. Never forget that God is our Guide.  How much to fear? Your heart knows, but you have to be quiet to listen to it and only God can make this happen. At the moment of fear or trouble, just relax for a second or two and let God take care of it. Let God make the imperfect machine of yours work in harmony so you can listen to your heart.


end of chapter

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