I used to live a life where I was always afraid, always anxious, always angry, always full of sorrow. I feared losing my family, what other people thought of me, feared what would happen if I were true to myself.
Fear is always with us and it up to us, as a person connected to the Higher Power, the Earth, and all Life around us to understand our fears and make them our strengths. Fear is the crown of thorns in the garden of our hearts and can make us feel fight or flight, protect us from dangerous experiences, challenge us to be braver, encourage us to confront the weeds of sorrow.
Prolonged experience in fear; however, this crown of thorns can be like a vine constantly growing in our hearts, constricting us, having us afraid of even trying to find and plant the seeds of content in our hearts again.
Would we have a world with no fear?
What is Fear?
Fear is the double edge sword – it can help us and it can harm us at any given time. While some use fear as the reason to tackle seeing the next best horror show while others use fear as a means to control the masses – such as using rhetoric to enforce fear of not paying debt. Fear is the unpleasant feeling of the perception of a threat- either real or imagined. How many times has mass media enforced the idea of money is god through the following questions and statements?
- If the housing market crashes, the economy is doomed!
- If the people cannot pay their student loans, this bubble will implode on itself!
- How can we keep people paying their debts to keep the economy afloat?
Fear can also arise from within us from perceived threats, either real or imagined. I, for one, feared I’ll never be able to pay down my credit card debts or my student loan debts even when I was working at a bank, telling other people to pay their debts! The sound of fear of not being able to pay their debts was as real as the sound of fear of losing their lives – and I could only relate.
Other forms of fear may arise from extremely dire situations such as fear of losing a family member, fear of losing a home, fear of losing everything. When my family suffered a house fire, I was at school at the time and heard about a fire on my street through word of mouth. I remember driving slowly down my neighborhood, inspecting every house and asking God/The Higher power, “Please God, please let it not be my house.”
My heart sank when I came up to my house and saw the once white house fully covered in grey soot. I feared losing my entire family that day. I thought the worst that day and I became riddled with anxiety.
After a while, I met up with my brother, my father came up and cried in front of me for the first time in my life, my mother was busy calling the insurance brokers, and my sister and her husband nearly lost their newborn baby in the fire. Our neighbors all came out after it happened and did all they could to help with food, shelter, and clothes. I had a sigh of relief that they were all okay and I was able to put those fears to rest for a while.
I could have cared less about all my belongings in the fire. All I had were the clothes on my back and my studying materials. I feared about where we were going to stay. We went from so many hotels and finally a rental home after eight weeks of hopping around with our belongings. My sister just had a baby shower for her newborn child a month before this and lost every single gift she ever received. My mother lost everything, my father lost everything, my brother lost everything.
My family and I went to Walmart to buy some clothes after retrieving what we could from the house of soot. The insurance brokers wired in some money to my mom so we can get some clothes on our backs. Prior to this, I was used to going to Express Men, JC Penney’s, and Hot Topic for clothes – my fight response quickly dismissed these options and I told myself, “We need clothes on our backs, not the latest trend.”
When we got to Walmart, I quickly grabbed some basic shirts and jeans until the full check came in. The check didn’t cover for food; however, and my mom was already maxing her credit cards to buy clothes for my sister’s child. I had a discover credit card at the time and I offered to buy the family $500 worth of food to last us until the insurance check came in.
Unlike the doom of the economy that we’re so well accustomed to hearing about in the news, no matter what day and age we’re in, this house fire was not on any news station. Our neighbors came out and helped us with bringing old baby clothes for my sister, allowed us to stay by a strong support team and also helped get anything we could salvage from the house to take with us to the hotel. What I considered important was not the question of debt, but the wellbeing of my family and our neighbors thought the same way.
I’m happy I took the fight response because this situation planted a seed that has blossomed into a tree of confidence today when I say this: there are greater riches than physical possessions.
What I Learned from Fear
This crown of thorns I call fear grew like a wildfire on steroids when the house fire took place and continued to do so for a while. After this house fire, we dealt with a family member’s addiction problem and many other stressful situations I cannot begin to elaborate on. After a year of living in a rental home, my family moved back into our house once it was rebuilt.
My fears and sorrows only began to dwindle once I started to pray with God/the Higher Power and seeing my family member get better with their addiction. All I could think about then was “think positive and positive will come.” I was doing everything in my power to just live happy and positively without fear and sorrow.
I learned very quickly that fear and the seed of sorrow will always grow in the garden of my heart. Day by day, as these situations subsided, the fear of losing my family, the sorrow that grew with it, would always creep back into my memories and my General Anxiety Disorder would go rampant. When I prayed with God/The Higher Power on why my sorrow and fear would return, I heard a question come in, “What did you learn from these experiences?”
After years of living in sorrow, living in fear, and doing all I could to bring in solely the flowers of happiness and the seeds of content, at this point, I did not consider the lessons I learned and the experience I gained from these dark times. I learned that sorrow reminds us to keep our happiness blooming, I learned the seed of content can grow even after the darkest of times, and I learned now that fear has only made me stronger.
Can We Live In a World Without Fear?
Living in a world without fear is living in a world without challenge. Living in a world without fear is a world without happiness. How can we understand true joy without true fear? How can we understand true happiness without experiencing true sorrow?
Just as there are two ends to every stick, there is always a balance in this life. The balance starts with us, with me, with you. Fear can teach us what branch to cut off on the crown of thorns, fear can teach us when to run and when to stand strong, fear can teach us to be our best selves in the worst situations and make the impossible situations possible to be controlled.
Many faiths and religions of the world have discussed fear for thousands of years and to be strong when fear rises. Psychologists have also advised other motivational messages regarding fear. For example:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Bible, Deuteronomy, 31:6
“Verily, those who have attained to faith and do good works, and are constant in prayer, and dispense charity – they shall have their reward with their Sustainer, and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.” Quran, Al Baqarah, 2:277
“The fire of fear within the body is burnt away by the Fear of God.” Sikhism, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, pg. 151
“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.” Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” Aristotle
“I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks. All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes, or of appearing naive.” Abraham Maslow, Psychologist.
Regarding the garden of the heart as talked about in my earlier post, What is Happiness?, fear will always grow in our garden. As the weed of sorrow is there to remind us to tend to our tree of content and flowers of happiness, so fear, as the crown of thorns, is there to remind us to stay strong and vigilant in our darkest moments, no matter how difficult or painful the moment may be.
My experience with the house fire taught me fear can be turned to strength not just within me, but for all those around me. Fear has taught me there are worse things that can happen in life than missing a payment on a credit card or a loan. Fear has taught me how to find my strength. I find a world without fear is a world without finding the strength in our hearts.
What are your thoughts on fear and what did you learn from your most fearful experience?
Be well and be safe and healthy.