I am writing this on Easter 2020, stuck at home, no church or family gathering. So strange! I find myself on an emotional tilt-a-whirl going from the joy of salvation, to worry for all those suffering directly or indirectly from the pandemic, to fear of the unknown, and finally to hope that a bright future is just around the corner.
I view Easter as the beginning of my spiritual new year. My resolution is always the same – to work to be a better person than I was the year before. As you know, my calendar year resolution is to be a happier person. Taken together, 2020 will be my happiest and betterest year. Sounds nice!
As mentioned last week, I believe people tend to be better when they are happy, and happy when they are better. And we are all better and happier when we are striving to be and to give our best for the benefit of others. Or as I think of it, when we are striving to become the saints we are all meant to be.
Saints are fearless. They do the right thing no matter what. They are not afraid. They take the bible message that is said to appear 365 times, once for each day of the year, to heart: Fear Not. Maybe since this is a leap year it is okay to be afraid for one day? No doubt we already have been.
The definition of fearless is lacking fear. Is that possible? To have no fear? I think not. Fear is a built-in defense mechanism designed to keep us safe. But we can all certainly fear-less. That is what saints do. They are not without fear, they just fear-less than the rest of us. And they are willing to face and overcome those things they do fear.
I’m no saint but I do have an app to deal with my fears. No, you can’t download it to your digital device. App is an acronym for the three steps you can use to become fear-less.
First let’s review the app that seems to be most in use these days: Avoidance, Paralysis, and Panic. Avoid facing your fears, become paralyzed, unable to act when forced to face a fear, and therefore panic when it rears its ugly head. Sound familiar? There will never be a pandemic that affects me. Oh no … what to do? Buy toilet paper!
Here’s a better app to help you become fear-less. Acknowledge, Prepare, and Prevail. Here’s how it works.
Step 1 – Acknowledge Your Fears
What do you fear? Make a list. Some of our common fears are death, illness, social phobias like being judged, not being accepted by others, being alone, being in crowds, and speaking in public. The thought of running out of money is scary. Many also have a fear of heights, small spaces, flying, darkness and a variety of creepy crawlies … especially in the dark … ugh!
Make your list. Be honest and comprehensive.
Step 2 – Prepare to Overcome Your Fears
All fears are future focused. You may not ever have to face any of them. But just in case you do, you should have a plan to overcome them. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
For each item on your list, determine two things; (1) what can you do to mitigate the possibility that you will ever have to encounter your fear, and (2) what will you do when you are forced to come face-to-face with your fear.
Let’s use this pandemic as an example. It has invoked the fears of illness, death, job and financial loss, and prolonged isolation to name a few. So what could we have done to mitigate the possibility of encountering these fears? How about:
If forced to have a close encounter with your fear, do the following:
Step 3 – Prevail
This step actually takes care of itself once you have identified your fear and developed plans to overcome them. You simply work the plan in order to prevail. Take the actions required to achieve the desired outcomes of your plan. Be disciplined and consistent in carrying out your plans.
The Hidden Advantage of Fear
Now that you have an app to overcome your fears, let’s learn how to use fear to our advantage.
The thing I fear more than this virus is people’s desire to “get back to normal.” In my opinion, the old normal is not good. We are too busy doing things that don’t matter at the expense of those things that do. I believe this time of self-isolation, surrounded by only those closest to us was given to us for a reason.
Now is the time to define our new normal. A time to contemplate what we should be doing with our lives, how we can be better and happier people, what we can do to help others do the same.
I use fear to help me do that. Mainly a fear of regret. I think way into the future, to my 100-year-old self. I don’t want to look back with regrets. So I identify potential regrets now in order to take the actions necessary to avoid them from ever becoming reality.
Here is what I fear. I fear us as a people continuing down a path in these United States of America where:
This list goes on and it all just got worse. This can’t go on. We are in big trouble. Who can save us? Us! It starts with each of us individually working to become our best. Then it takes us working together to solve the significant problems we face.
Each of us have tremendous talents. Our individual talents tend to complement each another. If we are all striving to be our best and to give our best for the good of others, then by working together I have confidence we can solve all of our problems over time. Let’s get started!
Here’s my biggest fear, that I don’t do my part. That I give up. That I choose to live out my life in my own little comfortable world and not help those in desperate need.
I’m guessing that many of you are like me. You are doing well and not significantly impacted by current events. You have taken care of yourself and planned for a bright future. Nice work and congratulations! The world needs people like you now more than ever to help others to achieve your same level of comfort.
What can we do? I’ll say it again, actively strive to become the saints the world is in desperate need of. Be fear-less. Get out there and do what you can. Don’t live with the regret of knowing you could have done more for your fellow man.
Here’s you challenge for the week. Apply the fear-less app to overcome one of your fears. And for bonus points, decide who you will be when things get back to “normal.” I hope you will decide to become a striving saint. More on that next week.
Be Fear-less My Friends! Scott