Fear is the protective response to the unknown. When the question is posed, “What could happen here?” Fear responds, “Nothing good can come from this.” And therefore, the mind and the body find ways to avoid, defend or just shut down opportunities or options.
We do this every day. And in a world that is risk and pain adverse (suffering is always to be averted or dimmed), fear is often the first instinct. Fear is driving our lives.
Not for a minute do we want to eliminate fear altogether from our arsenal of responses. It is a legitimate filter to think through priorities and decisions. But it cannot be the prime filter.
We like the metaphor of car-pooling. In many cities of the world, such as NYC, you are encouraged to carpool. To take a full car into the city to reduce congestion and the carbon impact of motor vehicles. We think we need a full car when driving our lives. All seats need to be taken. Fear needs a seat. But it cannot have the driver seat. It belongs in the car but in the rear. Giving its advice and heeding its warnings but not determining every stop and turn.
You see, there is a risk in life if we want to get better, achieve more, discover our futures, understand our flaws and histories, set our children free, build healthy relationships and partnerships, grow our skills and learning. These choices and the learnings they reveal can feel dangerous.
But they are necessary steps.
They are necessary to live bold brave lives that tell us we have lived well. It is not the pathway of the timid. But is also not the pathway of the arrogant. Hubris is not the objective. It is the pathway of those who choose to fearless. To weigh up choices. To listen to the different voices and sometimes respond with caution. But then choose the pathway that leads upward to growth, to healing, to stretch and to possibilities.
In 2018, we want to fearless. To fear-less-ly look inward at our own brokenness and potential. To look outwardly at the same in others. And then to look up. We need strength and wisdom to live fear-less lives. May we do so with humility, grace and courage.