It hits us everyday. Fear. The act of being afraid is a universally human experience. It pierces all race, age, geography, and time. Why?
Why are we so afraid? What is it about fear that finds its way into every human heart and mind?
It might seem obvious and simple, but the foundation for our fear comes from a desire for safety. We want to make sure we are ok – accepted, loved, cared for, seen.
Fear is born from our desire for safety. Our need to be secure. But this is not the full account of our fear. If so, our terror would subside with a caring word and a roof over our head.
What we find instead is that the issue of safety is not the end of human need, but the beginning.
Have you ever felt too safe? Ever lie awake at night and feel anxious because your normal reasons for anxiety aren’t there?
This is because safety is not the end of the human journey. Children need safety. They just need to be kept alive. But as we grow, there is another need that starts to braid with the need for safety. It is the reason we take risks and seek adventure.
We fear because of our need for purpose more than any other reason. We want meaning and significance. For that, we might risk our safety.
Sometimes our need for meaning makes us feel our own security. We fear our boredom, our apathy, our normalcy – all byproducts of an extreme safety.
Nothing is more terrifying for humans than insignificance.
This is why vision is so powerful and so important. It is the thing that drives us. The thing we care most about. Finding it and naming it is essential to human living.
This is what is at stake. The braided searching for safety and purpose.
The reason we fear is the idea that we might fall short of either goal. We are scared to make a mistake, to be measured and found wanting, to be tried and found to be not-good-enough.
The real possibility of failure paradoxically cripples us from our deepest longings and provides the backdrop for fulfilling them.
We are afraid because we might fail, that we might not make it, or we might be insignificant.
Unfortunately, this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We lean to one side or the other. IN searching for safety, we cut ourselves off from purpose. In searching for purpose, we stray too far from ourselves.
Fear can be a tool. The Bible says it is the beginning of wisdom. It keeps us grounded, committed, focused – when we decide to use it as so.
We cannot eliminate fear. We can only decide what to do in its presence. You cannot be brave without the presence of fear. You cannot persevere without the reality of failure. And you cannot achieve safety or purpose without understanding why you fear and what you can do in response.