Fear Factor

Have you ever been afraid? Sure, I think just about everyone can relate to that gut-wrenching feeling of fear. The panicked, flight or fight response when your body tenses up or goes into complete meltdown because of some deep seated fear of dying, or falling off a cliff, or your youngest going off to kindergarten, or being poisoned by some foul toad bewitched by an unlikely fairy godmother. Well. You get my point. Big fears are easy to pinpoint and easy to explain away.

Yet, what about the little fears? The nagging, “uncomfortable” feelings that are not rational fears, but take hold of you nonetheless? Do we talk about those fears? Do we even call them fears? “Anxieties” perhaps? Unease. Apprehension. Worry. Perhaps this worldwide pandemic has heightened those unforeseen thoughts for you as it has for me. Do I send my kid to school this fall? Do I ride public transit ever again? Why am I finding it so nerve-wracking to be driving on a four lane highway again after so many months of going nowhere? Will I ever fit into real pants again?

I must tell you a little story about my weekend in order to assist you in following my web of convoluted thoughts about fear, and consequently, my muse this week. We spent the weekend up at the trailer, near the lake and welcoming the final weeks of Canadian summer (albeit a strange one à la Covid-19). My beloved convinced me it was a perfect opportunity to spend a little time canoeing with him. Now, I like canoeing. I used to canoe often. I’ve even canoed with my husband. I’m not a white-water portage expedition canoer, but I can paddle. Yep, I can even steer the motorless boat! Still, the initial reaction to the invitation was fear. I have not been in a dugout piece of floating wood in a very long time. Years. I’m a little curvier now. And less agile. And a whole lot “awkwarder” in a wobbly floatation device than I used to be.

Our old canoe was light, and very tippy, and sank to about an inch off the water’s surface. But, our new-to-us boat is wider and sturdier and “will certainly hold you” assures my beloved. I agree to a short paddle. Then fear. True, my fear was irrational. There was no reason for it. No clear explanation of why my brain went to where it went. I had a lifejacket. I can swim and paddle and have a partner with me. We were barely going offshore. Yet, there it crept: the nagging trepidation of the what if’s.

As I thought about those feelings and how irrational they were (we had a delightful time on the water by the way!) I was reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7. The Amplified version expands it out nicely:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7 AMPC

Why do we get so caught up in our petty thoughts when the God of the Universe has given us a spirit of power and a mind that is in control? Do we let Satan weasel his way into our thoughts and twist them into self doubts, creeping anxieties and irrational fears? How much more does God want me to share my faith? Surely more than He wants me to try paddling a canoe after so many years. And yet, so many of us have an underlying fear factor there, too. Why do we find it so hard to share our faith? God is bigger than those fears! He gives us the power and the confidence and an extra dose of love to push us along the way. Like the gentle wake of our canoe, may you be encouraged by the wave of power that is God promised, and may calmness and self-control be your guides this week as you paddle through your faith journey, one small fear at a time!