This is probably the most common form of fear that I’m susceptible to. Here is what I mean:
You see, I generally (well mostly) like my life. I like my house, family, job, kids, activities, friends, etc. Even if there are some things that I don’t like, I know them and they are comfortable. They are sure a lot better than they could be, if you know what I mean. I have a tendency to subscribe to the ‘steady-state’ model of life: if I’m at a good point, and things are moving in the right direction, then all is good.
Sometimes there are non-linear events. These tend to induce fear.
Paralysis. Getting a raise. Cancer. Pregnancy. PMS. Deciding randomly to move for no articulable reason. Job loss. Inheritance. Taking a lead fall on a micro-cam. Kids. Being in a car accident.
All but one of these have touched my life (the first one) and it is probably my greatest fear. And it can be….paralyzing (go ahead and submit pun comments below).
Seriously. I can honestly be swept away with the fear of something like paralysis. Or my kids being taken. Or something happening to Alyss.
Grasping at Life
I have another name for this. It is called grasping. Reaching, grabbing, grasping to hold on. I don’t want to lose anything which I hold so freaking dear. And that by itself is natural. But at its root, I think it has a lot in common with entitlement. With control. We become so fearful of something changing…that we stop enjoying what we have. We stop really living. We make ourselves comfortable and stop stepping out in faith.
Sometimes we are holding on so tight to what is, that we never experience what might be.
The opposite of this “change fear”, I submit is gratitude. (Ok, maybe not polar opposite, but if you were to put them on a compass they would definitely be in opposing hemispheres.) We could be seriously hurt climbing, diagnosed with cancer, or most likely, killed or injured in a car accident. Any of these things would inalterably change my life. They would mark the beginning of a new chapter and adventure. But I cannot control them. I cannot predict them. And even my best attempts of avoiding them can fail.
In an earlier post (Word for the Year) my wife quoted me as saying, “Gratitude seems like more than just being thankful. It is looking around you and seeing bounty everywhere. No matter the circumstances.” I still agree with that. Gratitude quenches fear of change and grasping. Because in choosing to be truly grateful for today, I make no claims about tomorrow.
There was a time when grasping defined my life. And honestly, there are days it still does. I was content with the status quo. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was lost to my fear of what might happen if…
As I’ve worked to free myself from this fear, and its control over my decisions, I have found new joy and delight in what I have. I see my blessings far more clearly.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder