Here is how to not let fear hold you back

Do you ever come to an understanding of why a really difficult thing happened?
I think we all want to know the reason for suffering… Right? Maybe?
People really do want to know though. At least the Meaning of what would’ve been if it could help us to understand the reasons to murder and hate, to reject and discriminate, exclude and segregate. All these horrible inconceivable actions are rooted in fear.
At the core of this question of suffering, I think his fear.
What do you think? What is at the core of it for you?
Fear is one of the most universal experiences. Fear of the other, fear of the loss of power, fear of knowing what is true, fear of losing a part of who we are, and so many other grappling foundational aspects of life.

Fear of spiders, fear of heights, and fear of the dark, fear of intimacy. These are the common ones that we often hear about.

Fear is not as universal as pain because I cannot say fear is fear like I can say pain is pain. There is a universal characteristic of fear that allows us to all understand it in a very similar way. There something really unique about fear; fear is connected to our unique individual experience, our interactions with the world around us and what we believe about ourselves. This is what makes up our reality or at least what we believe our reality is. Often times there are false interpretations in this reality and we believe them as if they are truth. This is where fear plants its roots.
When people ask me if I am afraid of anything I tell them the only thing I am afraid of is the unknown. This is kind of funny because it is the easy way out. Answering I am afraid of the unknown is like saying I am afraid of everything.
Have you heard the acronym for fear? It stands for false evidence appearing real. This essentially means fear is the possibility of something happening that we may not be able to conceive or imagine through the lens of our reality.
So If I were to answer the question more honestly I would say yes I am afraid of spiders, yes, I am afraid of heights, and yes I am afraid of intimacy.
So the question should not be what are we fearful of or what are we afraid of but how do you act with fear, interact with fear and how do you embrace fear. This is the transformational question that can be deeply empowering. It makes us our own agents of change. It says you have the choice to act in the face of fear and you have the choice to run or embrace.

The reason we often run from what we are fearful of is because it is scary to imagine what will happen, what the reality is and what it could be. We get so caught in what could happen that we forget to attach a feeling to the fear.
We think fear is the feeling.
Fear is not a feeling. Fear is an experience, a way to view reality; it’s a perspective, it’s a perceived interaction with what could happen.

What if we attached a feeling to our fears?
Like, I am worried that I will be rejected again.
I am scared that the airplanes engine will stop working
I am anxious because I am not sure if they will say yes
I feel sad because I do not want to go back to the place where I was hurt
I feel frustrated because I can not know whether this person accepts me or not.
I am concerned I will not be able to advocate for myself because the other person is a bully
I feel stuck because the other person will not listen
I feel unworthy because somebody treated me unfairly.

The more we are able to attach feelings to our fears the more we will be able to see that they are not based in the reality of what our possibility could be in the future. If we are honest our feelings attached to fear are based in our desire to control what happens in the future. What often happens is the feelings wrap us up in the fear and they give us a false reality. These fears are real, they are a part of our experience, but they are not reality.

What is reality?
Our reality is that we are smarter and more superior over the spider
The airplane flew just fine on its last flight and has proven itself billions of times
You can not change other people, but you can improve or change your approach
You can ask the question and learn from it and enjoy the experience
You can embrace the pain and redeem the hurt
You can have strength and the power to take the next step

Fear holds us back but fear doesn’t have to hold us back if we see it for what it is. Fear tells us what it. What is this, what is that, maybe this’ll happen. But Instead of asking what if maybe we should be saying “you can”, or better yet, “what if you did blank blank blank”.
This is not a change of behavior change, but a change in the way we perceive ourselves, the world and how we interact with both of those. I understand how hard this is. I am writing this because I am in the middle of the fight; the fight to fight fear, the fight to fight anger, the fight to fight resentment, the fight against the voice that says you can’t. I am beginning to wonder if we should continue to fight fighting fear, fighting anger, fighting resentment.
Maybe we should connect with it, see what it is teaching us and put a feeling to it. I think when we put feeling to it then we are able to increase its value and see it as part of our experience. When we experience something that we come to believe is true then there is power to take action, whether it is a positive or negative turn, it will be up to us.
Each time we make this decision there is an opportunity to change and transform.

So what does it look like to get over fears?
Step 1: We need to embrace it.
If we do not embrace fear then we will not be open to the feedback. We need to listen to the spider that is up in the corner of your room, just as we need to listen to the person that has discriminated and rejected us. This is part of loving our enemies. The reality is that our enemies will not even know this is happening because it is transforming ourselves first, which will allow us to love our neighbor because we will have loved our self. Part of embracing fear is embracing our self.
When we are loved then we can take the next step. Steps can be taken other ways, but it will carry resentment and anger. overcoming fear can and will take us to the core of who we are because it will reveal many layers at one time and bring up so many past experiences. Our goal after embracing our fear though is to tell it how it makes us feel.
Step 2: the conversation
Seriously as silly as it sounds have a nice conversation with it. Ask it where it comes from and what you would really like done about it.
If there is a spider on your wall and you are freaking out
Say ok I see you fear of spiders; I am worried that the spider is going to attack me and bite me with its poisonous venom. Spider fear where do you come from, when was the first time you were in my life and why did you show up. Spider fear when you showed up, what was it about you that actually scared me?
This is an example of the conversation with fear. This conversation happens already, but takes place in a much different way. Conclusions usually come before questions are able to be asked and an action takes place before we can realize we reacted to fear.
Step 3: step into it
To interact with the fear we need to take a step into it. I do not want to talk about conquering fears just yet. No need to get high and mighty just slow and steady. If it is spiders then find a spider and just look at it from a far and take a step closer to it. If it is the dark then step into it and do something fun in the dark. I do not like taking the trash out when it is dark because I fear a critter like a raccoon or skunk will attack me, but if I take the step to open the door to take a step outside and then go get the trash after seeing the coast is clear, and then it becomes much easier to take it to the big trash can outside.
We just need to be able to put one foot in front of another. This is how we interact with the fear. If we put one foot in front of the other then the fear does not hold us back. Conquering fears is not about erasing them, but not allowing them to hold us back. We can never get rid of fear, but we can know and learn how to take action in spite of them. Even if I were to conquer the fear of a raccoon or skunk attacking me then I would fear an attack of the boogie man. Fear is a constant, but the way that we respond to it does not have to remain a constant.

If you want to have some fun with fear then create a 30 day fear breaker. Make a list of 30 things that you are scared of, anxious about, worry about, become timid when faced with, or even just scared to initiate. Then take smalls steps into them and make it fun. The only way to get past a fear is to interact with it.
If you have a fear of spiders then get a toy spider and put it on your friend’s keyboard.
If you are afraid of heights then have a stair race to the top with a friend or hike a hill.
Fears are attached to our core and can often be quite deep issues to deal with, but I believe we can answer the difficult questions in life like what to do with suffering if we take one step at a time.
Here are good resources on going farther
Rejection therapy Jia Jiang

The war of art
Necessary endings

a great counselor, Jennifer Schatz at hope counseling center

yearly project: a question a day

I am not sure if you have noticed, but the past few post that I have made have been about asking questions. I explain how I came to value questions in the post” importance of asking questions”, so if you are interested how I have been able to see this project evolve in my life check it out there. This project that I am introducing will consist of questions I have come up with this past year. I believe questions are good and healthy and fruitful and fun. I secretly hope that my kids are those young children that ask ridiculous and seemingly stupid questions. there is something about asking questions that takes you back to the early stages of life. maybe it is the endless imagining of a particular scenario when somebody asked who would win batman or superman. Maybe it is the development of the deep wonderings of the meaning of life. however simple and however complex there is no question that is not worth taking the time to answer. Questions are sometimes like a shooting star, they come they go and they are hard to grasp but when you get a good one they can really impact you. With the desire to live a more impactful life, I documented a question a day for the past year.
I may have done this project for myself, but it is not my intention to keep it to myself. I think questions are great and I want to share them with you? not only will I want you to share your own questions, but I will want you to choose your favorite questions so that myself and other contributors have a chance to expand upon the questions. in addition to my own voice I am going to make a hard push to have guest writers share their views as well. hopefully this will encourage and push us to ask more questions in a faithful and humble way that will make us greater learners and wonderers. To start the project I will release 1 month of questions and I want you as the reader to pick and share your 3 favorite questions and the forth coming month I or a guest writer will write on that question to further the conversation. I look forward to see how we can grow through this. Just looking over my initial questions it is cool to see how I have grown in the questions I ask and how I ask questions over the time when I started this project. My question asking starts off a little shakey and uncomfortable, but I guarantee it gets better, but there is no time back guarantee.

1. How do we completely forgive our dads in the freeing way that gets rid of bitterness and anger?
2. What does it look like to die to ourselves
3. What does a journey with no limitations look like to you?
4. Why is it hard for us to tell others we have been hurt
5. What has your father made you
6. How do we describe hurt?
7. What if we found our worth in Jesus
8. What if we asked what if more often
9. How do we payback with blessings when we have been wronged
10. Why is it so hard to tell others we have been hurt
11. How do we manifest the beauty of gods character?
12. Do we listen to our dreams
13. How are you angry at god?
14. who do you need to inquire with about the way they have hurt you
15. What does it look like to not impose your way onto somebody else
16. What identified you when you were younger
17. What identifies you now?
18. How do you love your dad
19. How does your dad love you
20. How do you experience god in the moment to moment?
21. What does the gap between what you are able to do and what you choose to do look like?
22. What if our minds were not trained to consume?
23. Are there questions you can ask somebody to see if they are a kingdom person?
24. Do you want things that you can not offer
25. What if we were able to freely talk about our idols?
26. Do you get mad at somebody for something they did without seeing if it is a trait you carry?
27. Do you put an unhealthy level of emphasis on being and doing something purposeful
28. what does your vulnerability with people show you about your vulnerability with god in your life?
29. what or who are you a master of and how does that reflect your relationship with god?
30. Do you mourn for non-believers, if so how deep?
31. Have you had something taken away, if so how has that changed your response to how your life your life?

the importance of asking questions: how I have been growing in humility

recently I sent a letter to a group of people explaining what I observed and how I felt it was inadequate and was falling short of the standard that I think this particular community should be living up too. discussing this with a friend I came to an understanding that this was not loving because I did not know what was happening in the background that I could not observe. a mark of maturity is to observe what you can not see, which essentially promotes the act of believing the best of people you are working with and asking questions about what is going on. the most neglected act of observing is seeing how the past has shaped the present. often times we do not know the past so we need to ask questions. if you are catching on with what I am saying you will have figured out questions are a great way to show love, care, and affection.

a common definition of humility that I am coming to appreciate in a greater way is to not think of ourselves as lesser, but to think of others more. when we think of ourselves less we tend to not think we have it all together or that we know all, not that knowing all is possible but we can act like it. when we think of others more we realize the limitation of what we can know and if our reaction to that is healthy than that will cause us to ask questions. ignorance is not bliss, no matter how much you think happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of personal pleasure. we need to ask questions. questions send us to a place of choice. You know that miniscule moment where you have to choose, most often it is a moment of discomfort because you are challenged to enter into a foreign place. I guess you can say questions make you a traveler and a traveler has too often face that they do not know it all.

questions allow us to enter in. a general critique of our society is that we are losing our ability to connect due to our electronic devices that limit our human to human interactions. We have a hard enough time being present with somebody, but an even harder time engaging with somebody. a great way to start that is by asking questions. I know I personally need to ask more questions. I fall short of loving others because I do not ask enough questions to engage with their experience. Another example to illustrate this comes from the conversation I had with the guy above that showed me that I was being immature. I simply assumed that a particular experience had defined him a certain way and after he corrected me of his actual experience I realized a simple question would have helped me show him I care instead of assuming about the particular defining experience he had. a couple questions that would have been caring would be, how did you come to that place or what shaped your perspective on that. both of these would have been engaging, clarifying, and a sign of humility.
questions engage, questions bring clarity, and questions show humility. I have entered into the practice of asking questions with a couple different projects this past year to promote and further my growth in asking questions, so I can love god better, love others better, and love myself better. the first project was called personal questions and this was simply a list of questions that pertained to my personal development, which I will be writing about soon. the other project was a question a day, which was mainly questions about people, god, life, achieving goals, loving others, and personal growth. they were just questions that were in my head or that I came across throughout the day, but were none the less necessary questions that I felt needed to be wrestled with. most of the time we get questions in our head and 5 minutes later we forget it and never think about that intriguing question again. well by composing those questions I aim to engage with life, seek clarity of our purpose, and approach others in a humble way. I will be announcing more about the question a day project soon, so be excited. here is a little teaser, it has to do with twitter 🙂

what questions do you have? they can be anything, leave them below

refocusing the purpose of repentance on relational restoration

I recognized a few years ago that I would get really frustrated when people would say “I am sorry” and it took me a while to figure out why that was. I knew it was something I did not like. The words felt hollow to me, like there was not any backing or meaning behind them. .  I recently discovered this through a few conversations with some close people in my life and through further discovery of my great interest in restoration. I noticed the most frustration whenever somebody would say they are going to do something and then do not do it. That is falling short, or missing the mark. Some call it a lie, some call it not keeping your word, or some call it a let down. I would say at the core it is all of these things. A very famous person named Jesus once said, “Do not swear upon anything not even your father or mother because you can not tell what is going to happen tomorrow,” and in a similar instance he said “let your yes be a yes and your no be a no.” We will all fall short of this, including myself, but it is extremely relevant to restoring our vision. Keeping your word and having integrity behind your actions is difficult in many ways but it will bring clarity to how you view life. 

One of the ways that I want to show this is through repentance. This I realize is a difficult and sensitive topic, but I feel it is a necessity if we want to walk in a restorative way. For some, I recognize that repentance can bring up feelings of condemnation, guilt, rejection or self-righteousness. These things I hope can be restored in you. Repentance is a big word and there is much meaning behind it, but I am going to be working with the specific part that looks at the action part of the definition. What I am speaking of is the act of recognizing what is being done or has been done and turning away from it to move towards a direction of love. 

The reason that I bring up this action part of repentance is because repentance is a necessary step in restoration. We often do not keep our word when we say that we repent, but we merely treat it as a way of saying sorry or contemporarily “my bad”. This is not enough because we forget the part of turning away and walking towards love. We can not lightly throw around repentance, but we should do the opposite and embrace it daily and routinely. As Tim Keller says, “repentance is a way of life.” What I am not saying is that we should be ritualistic or religious with our repentance because that would make it a behavior modification and repentance is about heart transformation, which is why it is a necessary step in restoration. 

The reason we need to keep our word or value our integrity is because repentance is the step after forgiveness and before reconciliation in the restorative process. It is the middle ground that brings the two parties back together. If we do not mean what we say when we repent then it is empty, weak, and meaningless. In the great words of Michael Franti, “say what you mean and mean what you say”. For those that have been hurt by people that have used the word repentance towards you in a hurtful way or for those who use it in a ritualistic way, I hope this restores your vision of repentance and gives you hope in the purpose of repentance. Remember if you recognize you are doing something that is missing the mark and do not turn towards love then that is not love, but is rejection and pride. If repentance is not bringing you back into a restorative relationship with love then it is not being used the right way. Open your eyes for the Kingdom of God is here, so now repent. Repentance is the path to restoration.