Why Fear Doesn’t Motivate Me (as much) Anymore

I grew up on a farm. We owned 150 acres or so, but farmed almost 1,000 spread out amongst the county we lived in. Those acres had a few hills, a pond or two, forest and fields. I would go out most days as a kid and make a new adventure. Some of those got me in trouble like leaving the pen open so the cows got out, riding my bike through a soybean field to grandma’s house and falling into a pile of  manure the size of several swimming pools. It was adventurous and fun.

I remember being at college several years later. Iris and I had only been dating for about a year, but I was madly in love with her and knew she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. As she was getting ready to head back home for winter break, I was struck with this intense fear. Y2K, the infamous over-the-top hype filled, doom-and-fear-motivated craze was sweeping the country as it was only two weeks away until the world would end as we knew it. It seems like Christians I knew were the most crazed about it.

Though I couldn’t have cared less about it, there was suddenly this mass panic that set in my heart and mind. “What if this is real? If it is, how in the world will I get back to Iris??” She lived only three hours away, but if the apocalypse was really going to happen, where would I get gas to drive? How would we be together in the end? What would happen to the wonderful plan I thought God had for me?

That Christmas was the worst Christmas I had ever had. I was, and still am, not a big New Year’s party kind of guy. Sometimes I stay up to watch the fireworks (in Russia) out my window, but often as soon as they are done, I go to bed, quietly. The year f Y2K, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what was happening to New Zealand, Australia and Japan first to see if things would be ok. And now here we are 15 years later with a new swarm of things to be afraid of…who cares about a computer glitch.

As time went on, this fear and panic would kick in from time to time. I look back on my childhood now and wonder where it came from, and still I have no idea. But I do know one thing, it’s not of God. It’s not of a loving Father, it’s not from the Prince of Peace. I knew that then, but fear still controlled me. In most cases, even in major decisions, it didn’t win out, but it would cause me to second, triple, quadruple guess myself. It would cause me to come up with backup plans. D, E and F plans in case the first three failed. Both major decisions and small would be well thought out and have many contingencies. You can imagine the amount of energy it took to keep it altogether, separated, cataloged.

The past few years have been an incredible journey of growth for me. Part of that was starting down the road of recovery and doing a fear inventory. Getting to the root of why I have fear, where it comes from and the truth that it is because I cannot control every aspect of every place and situation in my life. I can make decisions for myself. However, I cannot control what my child does, what Iris says, what the person in the car in front of me does, nor the strength of the cable holding up the elevator I’m in. I have no way of controlling most things in my life. I am not God.

And I guess, that is where the painful rub comes.

I am not God.

I am an addict of control. That took me a long time to admit. When I lose control, I become fearful of what might be. As an addict to alcohol loses that “safe” drink, the fear of facing the pain they have been trying to drown begins to start. Recovery is a road worth walking. But it is a road. Some days my fear is subsided and I don’t have any. I am at peace (my breath prayer for years now). But other days, my fear starts to gain foot holds in my life. I need to pause and recognize the truth that it is ok. All is well.

I so enjoy the Christian Mystics. Julian of Norwich was one who spoke to me much as I read of her life and what God had done in her. She said this, “ It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

The truth is all is well. All shall be well. I am His and He is mine. Fear has no place, no life giving sustenance for my soul. Only peace. My prayer for us all in these very uncertain times, is that we all claim the truth that all is well, shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Amen.

What fears drive you? Have you ever done an fear inventory? What has become of allowing your fears reign and what has become  of allowing peace to reign? I would love to hear your stories, please feel free to dialogue!


3 thoughts on “Why Fear Doesn’t Motivate Me (as much) Anymore

  1. Amy Novak says:

    I enjoy reading your posts, J.B.! This post made me want to look up Bible verses about fear. Just reading the verses helps put me at peace. The Bible is a powerful tool and I know I need to use it more often! 1 John 4:18; Romans 8:15; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; 2 Timothy 1:7; Psalm 27:1


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