My daughter Mariah’s (she is
14 15) take:
Fearless. Fearless is a word that has never been achieved. Dramas, books, lame clichés, or even cheesy positive jewelry have promoted the word in a way that makes it seem plausible. In reality, no one in their right mind, is or ever will be, fearless. The question should not be if one fears, but rather what they fear. For me, fears such as spiders, heights, or the dark aren’t scary. On the other hand, what I do not know is frightening. In other words, the unknown is my leading fear. I am certain the feeling is not mine alone. Some would say ignorance is not a fear (including modern literature), but for me ignorance is not bliss. To walk into any given situation completely unprepared and uninformed scares me. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy spontaneous events or new experiences, quite the opposite in fact. Why exactly do you think people fear death, fear attempting a new sport, or fear trying for a new job position? It’s because they don’t know what will occur. It explains why both some religious individuals and atheists, despite their polar differences, don’t fear death. They both believe they have the absolute answer to what happens after death, so they can rationalize away the fear. It is the people who do not know that fear. I could leave you with an inspiring attempt at a solution, but in my opinion there is no solution to fear. It will always exist in some form. Some fears will go away, like the little child’s nightmares over the monster in the closet, but not all fears will be absolved. Sorry to pop everyone’s comfort bubble, but the unknown will always be there. For all you narcissists out there, you simply just cannot know everything. Learn to live with it.
Recently, in preparation for the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), I studied a list of vocabulary terms related to fears. Here are some of the examples of fear terminology interwoven into the test questions of the graduate level test.
Acrophobia – the fear of heights
Agoraphobia – fear of crowds
Androphobia – the fear of men
Arachnophobia – fear of spiders
Astraphobia – the fear of lightning
Brontophobia – the fear of thunder
Claustrophobia – the fear of closed spaces
Cynophobia – the fear of dogs
Herpetophobia – the fear of snakes
Homophobia – the fear of homosexuals
Necrophobia – the fear of death
Nyctophobia – the fear of darkness
Ochlophobia – the fear of crowds
Ophidiophobia – the fear of snakes
Ornithophobia – the fear of birds
Triskaidekaphobia – the fear of number 13
Xenhophobia – the fear of strangers
However, none of these issues accurately narrate my anxiety.
Instead, I will admit to you one of my worst fears. As a 45 year-old man, I am troubled by the fear of failure. An acronym for F.A.I.L. is foolish, archaic, incompetent loser with the emphasis of a fingered “L” over one’s forehead. I would rather live on a deserted island or be holed up in a mountain shack than be publicly labelled and cursed with the big “L”.
Perhaps I am having a mid-life crisis. I am thankful for opportunities in my past as a husband, father, and pastor. There have been accomplishments and achievements which provide a sense of satisfaction. But I also see my failures. My regrets linger in rainy clouds of melancholy over what I have done or not done. I am keenly fascinated by the study of world history, but I am troubled anytime that I dwell on my own personal history.
Here is the problem. I want to look good before others and display an image that reveals no weakness. I desire to accomplish great things. Big things. But what have I done in the past twenty years? Without much difficulty, I can become emotional over my past shortcomings. Regrettably, I think that I am neither strong nor courageous and in possession of no unique skills. I hunger for encouragement.
As I study my fear of failure, I have come to realize that it is all a matter of deeply embedded pride.
In bright majesty and glory, this is where Jesus Christ divinely steps into the picture as rock-solid hope. There is only one thing absolutely certain in my life – it’s the love of the King for me. As one author eloquently wrote, “Self-absorption fades into self-forgetfulness, as I fix my gaze on the brightness of the Lord.”
So I face my failures of the past and my fear of failure in the future head on. I cast my human image to the wind. I embrace my brokenness. I chose not to be overly sensitive to criticism nor be inflated by human praise. I will use God’s gifts granted to me for His glory. And I will not take myself too seriously in the gradual unfolding of the years ahead as God so wills for my life.