“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
Each Sunday morning the Pastor of the church my wife and I have been attending has someone in the congregation come to the pulpit and lead us in a responsive reading of a Psalm. As I have written before, this is a mission church whose focus is on helping the homeless in our community so she typically pulls someone from pews that is or has been homeless.
I know the reason she does this, she is trying to help that person build-up their self-esteem. If you have ever spoken to 100 or 200 people on stage you know it can be very intimidating. I know people, successful, educated people, who absolutely can not speak to large gatherings. Stage fright doesn’t even begin to describe the fear they experience. Imagine though trying to lead a congregation in the recitation of a Psalm with Dyslexia, or an elementary school reading level. For most of us that would go beyond terrifying, it would be both embarrassing and humiliating.
Each Sunday I watch all matter of human beings, white, black, old, young, male and female brutally stumble through these readings and this past Sunday was no different. With the Pastor by their side guiding them, I follow along in the Hymnal as they mispronounce, invert, or simply skip parts of the Psalm. It can be hard to watch but I always think to myself, what courage it took for them to stand-up there and do this. I am sure, for many, this is so far out of their comfort zone that they may see it as some kind of self flagellation. But each Sunday, someone new stands before us, and each Sunday I see the sense of relief and accomplishment on their face when the task is completed.
“When you do what you fear most, then you can do anything.” – Stephen Richards
Despite my out going and self-confident persona I do have fears, things that just scare the shit of me. I have no problem standing in-front of 500 people babbling on about whatever, but I am terrified of heights. I am happy to help anyone, do anything, but I am afraid to ask for help myself. I work diligently to remain positive and focused on the future, but I worry about my past, what I have said, what I have done, and whose feelings I might have hurt.
My senses tell me that a large segment of the American population is operating under a blanket of fear right now and that those fears are being stoked by all sides, Republicans, Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives. Even the mainstream religions are playing to our fears which, for me, is the worst of the bunch.
I saw a survey recently that listed the top 10 human fears;
- The unknown
- Losing our freedom
I am sure over the course of our lifetimes each of us has dealt with one or all of the fears listed above. It’s simply human nature, honestly it’s what makes us human. I would suspect we all have these “fear genes” rolling around in our souls somewhere and some we feed and some we starve. The question we need to ask ourselves is this, why would we feed one or two but ignore the rest?
I mentioned in a post last year that, career wise, I am at a crossroad. Well since that post, I am now standing naked in the middle of that crossroad and when I look right or left, up or down I have no vision of what is ahead of me and I got to be honest, it is pretty scary.
I have always preached two mantra’s to my children; “Things happen for a reason” and “Somehow things always work out”. These two maxims have gotten me and my family through some rough spots over the years. The hard part is believing that they are true and having the patience’s, and the courage to accept the truths and the answers they reveal.
Sunday, a man stood before me and with strength, and grace stumbled through the 50th Psalm. I am sure, given what he already knew were less than perfect reading skills, he was kicking himself for agreeing to do it. But he did it, he survived, “Somehow things always work out”. I hope they will for you, I hope they will for me as well.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain