Overcoming our fears and finding joy
We live our lives in fear.
If we stopped to notice it, most of us would find that we are somewhat anxious about something remarkably often.
We're afraid of big things:
- not being loved
- disease & physical suffering
- losing our job
- being alone
- financial disaster
- and, of course, death.
Some of these things will happen in every life.
We're also chronically afraid of little things:
- we're afraid of being wrong
- we're afraid of looking stupid
- we're afraid of being embarrassed
- we're afraid of failure
- we're afraid of what others think about us
Fear of the big things and fear of the little things seem quite different.
It seems right and natural to fear the big things and kind of neurotic to fear the little ones.
But we all experience both kinds of fear, and they have a common root: the need to maintain our personal dignity and identity. We are deeply afraid of being insignificant, unimportant.
We are anxious because we are afraid of losing status and respect as human persons.
When I imagine having some awful disease, I fear pain and death (death is the ultimate challenge to my status), but I also fear losing my dignity and independence.
Similarly, when I face embarrassment or criticism, my identity and status are being challenged.
We don't need physical danger to make us afraid: any threat to our personal security will do. Being ignored might make us anxious, or being noticed might be our trigger.
We live in fear of being made to feel insignificant because we aren't certain exactly what makes us valuable. We aren't certain what significance our lives have.
We don't need to live in such a fragile state.
There is a God who created us, and he is still paying attention to us. It is God who gave us our identity. It is because he loves us that we exist and have standing, that we are important.
We aren't in this life alone. We were created to live in the company of God, forever. With God sustaining us, we really don't need to be anxious about anything. He will see to our ultimate well-being if we let him, and he'll see us through the difficult times now.
Human beings were intended to live in the company of God, as God's companions.
We've lost track of our true identity. That's why we feel so fragile, so anxious. We think we're on our own. We're not.
We do need to seek out God, however. We do need to nurture that relationship. The one thing that can cause us to lose our identity and our status is rejecting the one who made us. That is a reasonable thing to be anxious about.