Run Into The Fear
Fear is a funny thing. Most of the time, it’s based on nothing. It’s created in our heads. And we either choose to believe it or call its bluff.
I’m not talking about survival. When you are in the middle of a burning house, GET OUT! That’s good fear. That fear will save your life.
No, the fear I’m talking about is the fear that is rooted in how we see things. And what we choose to believe about it.
This fear is a lie. This fear can pave the way for growth.
I spent Halloween night as a gorilla. My friend lives on Floyd Ave, in an area of the city that attracts LOTS of families and kids on Halloween. This was a new experience for me. Growing up in the suburbs we experienced some Halloween traffic, but few people would venture into other neighborhoods. So we saw the same 30 or so families every year. (Until high school when we learned of the rich neighborhood where everyone gives out king size candy bars. This was the only time we journeyed into unknown territory.)
My friend and I passed out candy for a couple hours and ran out of candy twice. (Luckily, the neighbors were very kind to share theirs with us.)
The gorilla blended into the dark, and many kids would walk up to the steps and would begin to see me take form as they approached. And almost all of the younger ones stopped dead in their tracks when they realized a gorilla was in front of them. They would become paralyzed.
“He’s a friendly gorilla,” my friend would tell them.
(I begged her not to say this. The idea of kids thinking any gorilla was friendly doesn’t sit right with me. This lesson will end tragically for one of them someday.)
As the kids stood there, in fear, one of two things would usually happen.
- The kid would obey his fear. He’d forgo the candy, turn around and leave the yard as quickly as he could.
- The kid would look at his father. His father would come beside his child, letting him know that it would be okay because Dad was with him. The father encouraged his kid through the fear so the kid could get to the good things waiting for him.
The kid who falls into category 1 missed out. Yes, he’s just a kid, but he demonstrates the core of many people. He encountered fear. And went the other way. He chose to run back. Run away from the fear to avoid it all together. He chose to remain comfortable away from the fear, surviving, but not truly experiencing all the goodness that was just beyond the fear. He let fear dictate his decisions, and ultimately his direction in life.
Now the person who falls into category 2 approaches the exact same fear, the exact same obstacle. However, person 2 responds by looking to someone bigger than himself, bigger than his fear. Person 2 looks to his Father, knowing that with his Dad he can move through, move past, overcome, any fear that comes his way. His Father is good, and know that pushing through the fear produces growth in the child. And on the other side of fear is good things. The Father has his child’s best interest into mind the whole time.
Great things are always waiting for you on the other side of Fear.
“Fear produces growth?” you may be asking.
When you walk through it, absolutely. I know this because later last night, once all the candy was gone, my friend and I walked Hanover Avenue. This is a residential street in Richmond. But on Halloween it turns into the Rodeo Drive of Halloween parties and people walking the streets in their costumes. Still in full gorilla gear, my friend and I walked Hanover Avenue.
And people were running to fear.
People would literally run up to this gorilla and ask for a picture with me. It was borderline celebrity, and very unexpected. Nothing had changed about the gorilla. The fear object was the same. However, these people were the same people who were kids 20 years ago. They were the kids who had experienced the fear earlier in life, and already overcome it. So now they rule the fear. They run to the fear to get a picture with it. Almost like taking a picture with a trophy of fear that they’d overcome earlier in life, people were excited to get a picture with the gorilla.
By walking through the fear earlier in life, these people had overcome, had grown bigger than their fear of a man dressed in a gorilla costume.
Anyone who has watched a kid ride a roller coaster for the first time has seen this in real time. The first time they ride, the child is afraid. They really don’t want to do it. The roller coaster is a fear they haven’t overcome yet. Then they ride it. Then what do they say?
“Let’s do that again!”
And the child runs to get back in line.
Fear can paralyze us. Overcoming fear gives us life. Makes us feel alive again.