My daughter, Nichole, was reading her son a bedtime story about fear. She told him that sometimes he’d be afraid of dangerous things, like putting his hand on a hot stove. Other times, he’d be scared of nothing at all. See! There’s really not a monster under the bed. He can tell people when he feels afraid and ask them to stay with him until he feels safe. Or he can hold a favorite toy until he feels okay.
“I wish it was that simple,” I said to her later. “What about those times we feel afraid and a monster is really there?”
Nichole knew what I meant. I was with her at the hospital when her second son was born. When he had trouble breathing and they whisked him to ICU, she looked at me. “Tell me everything is going to be okay,” she insisted. I couldn’t speak. I averted her eyes. My fear was making her fear worse. I had to leave the room and pray. Thank God, Nichole’s husband is a rock. He went into the ICU and stayed until his newborn son began breathing on his own.
Usually our fears are fantasies we’ve created in our mind. But once in a while, we find ourselves living through and facing our worst fears. And sometimes when we’re really afraid, we have to draw on the strength of someone who is not as scared as we are.
It can be tempting to dwell on difficult times from the past, in order to give credibility to the what ifs that disrupt our peace. But we can also think about how much we’ve survived and how well we’ve done, in order to remind ourselves how brave we are.
Be not afraid. That doesn’t mean don’t feel fear. From anxiety to panic to terror, all the shades of fear need to be acknowledged. Our emotions, however, are not who we are.
Value: This week we’ll look at fear, along with the values of bravery, courage, and peace.
From the book: 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact
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