There’s not one of us who doesn’t understand Fear. He’s a tyrannical master who is relentless in his pursuit of us. He keeps us locked in the prison of our own minds, and refuses to loosen his icy grip from our throats. We slip into the darkness of depression, and do our best to claw our way out of quicksand, but our feet are locked in the hands of our inner demon.
We are incapable of pursuing our dreams, because Fear whispers, You’re a failure.
We cling to our loved ones, because Fear reminds us, You’re going to lose them forever.
We protect our heart from love and vulnerability, because Fear asks, And get rejected again?!
We know fear, and we believe him.
Then he whispers, What if. What if I get cancer and die? What if I burn in hell forever? What if I never find true love? What if I’m not a good enough wife, mother, Christian, employee, student?
We live our lives ruled by this dark underworld. We cannot see fear, but we can feel him watching us, haunting us. Whispering in our ears, “You’ll never be good enough.” Fear is nothing new to us. This just describes another Tuesday.
Anti-depressants are subscribed at an all time high. Anxiety and Panic attacks are household members, and Insomnia is our bedtime companion. In a desperate moment, we cry out for Jesus to save us. We beg God to come take away our torment. We plead that he will show us a way out. We cope with our darkness with food, alcohol, or pills. We read self-help. We attend the next conference, and line up for prayer. It’s a constant chase, a desperate search for a way to overcome Fear.
Except, true fear is our natural response to a life or death situation. Fear is a life-saving gift, because when I meet a bear in the woods or I meet a thief on the street, fear floods my body, releasing high levels of adrenaline, and in a split second I can decided whether I need to stay and fight or get the heck out of there. Fight or flight — it’s my beautiful response to preserving myself. Fear is not some evil dark force that keeps me locked in an inner prison, fear is the reason why I’m still alive today.
Last time I checked, there aren’t any bears chasing me through my house, and I don’t have a masked man pointing a gun to my face, but I am binge watching Netflix on my couch. So, if Fear is not the one who’s been whispering in my ear, if Fear is not the one who’s kept me locked in my inner darkness, then who have I been living with? Who have I been cuddling with on my couch?
I pause the fourth season of The Office and heave myself to sitting position. It takes me a second to adjust my eyes to the creature at my feet. After several minutes, with trembling hands, I reach and pull off the mask of my life-long companion.
I stare into the eyes of Self-hate.