Fear and Paranoia

The nightmare is the same:

The sea of red lights in front of me, the glance in the rear view mirror, and the car hurtling towards me. Lord knows what was going to happen next.

The jolt of that impact shook me up permanently.

Paranoia: (the second definition)  a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others

I can’t drive normally anymore. I check my mirrors obsessively. I can’t stand driving in traffic. The old peace that I had while driving is all but gone. Driving has turned into an hour long ordeal filled with distrust and an irrational fear of everyone else who is near my car.

 

I’m pretty sure that regardless of whether or not you’ve been in a car accident, we’ve all had experiences like this that have shaken us to our very cores. They change how life looks and feels.

That unexpected death.

The bitter ending of that friendship.

The unforeseen final talk of that relationship.

The rejection from that school.

The D- on that transcript. 

The painful betrayal by a close friend that left us brokenhearted.

We have different ways of coping and attempting to heal.

Some of us hide the fact that it ever happened. We bury the feelings so deep that we don’t even acknowledge that the person who hurt us so deeply ever existed.

Others of us superimpose what we hated about those people onto anyone similar to them. We blacklist people with similar traits because we assume that they will hurt us in the same way.

Some of us are paralyzed and we can’t move on. We spend years trying to figure out what we did wrong and how we could have saved the situation.

Sometimes we decide that the only way to balance everything out is to treat others just like we were treated. If we were back-stabbed and hurt then we turn to others and inflict the pain that we feel so that everyone can know our pain.

Some of us know that God saves and redeems every situation, but we assert by our actions and words that He is powerless to help us in our pain.


 

I’ve just started snowboarding this year and one thing I’ve learned is that it hurts a lot to fall repeatedly. Before you fall for the first time, you think you can take whatever is coming. The mountain is a treasure trove of opportunity and optimism. You are eager to try and eager to do something new.

After you take your first spill, you are shaken but you know that they can’t all be as bad as that first one. But then you fall again.

And again.

You start feeling the pain in your knees. Your wrists and forearms are getting strained from having to push yourself up after each fall.

Your dreams of keeping up with your friends are all but crushed as you get down the hill mostly on your butt. You get cynical about going down the mountain. Somehow, you now know that regardless of what you do, you will end up falling. You stand up on your board with a defeated posture that looks ready to fall. You tense your body to try and make the falls less painful. This is not at all what you had in mind.

The miraculous occasion when I actually learned how to do the “falling leaf” on my snowboard was actually right after lunch. Before lunch, I had fallen about half a dozen times on the bunny slope. Everything hurt and I was ready to give up. Then we made the terrible or fantastic decision that since the bunny slopes had filled up while we were eating, that we should just go onto the blue slope because it would be easier to learn because there were less people.

Basically in the face of a slope that would have killed me had I continued the cynical pessimistic attitude from the bunny slope, I decided that I had to figure it out or never make it down the mountain. Maybe the Holy Spirit gave me a word of knowledge about snowboarding or maybe the fear of dying forced me to figure it out, either way, the key was that fear was no longer controlling my actions. Yes, there was a fear of never making it down, but that was not the main force governing my actions.


 

It isn’t a perfect analogy but hopefully it kind of makes sense.

The take away is this: if fear stemming from past pain or hurt is our motivator we will be the self fulfilling prophecy that dooms us to fail and fall again and again.

We were meant for more than driving paranoid thinking that the whole world is attempting to crash into us. We were meant to board fearlessly down double black diamonds not because danger is not present, but because we were designed to conquer that mountain.

Don’t let fear choke out the life that is in you.

This is one of my dad’s favorite verses. When I was younger I was characterized by being afraid of everything from the witch from Snow White, the guy who would come out with a Chuckie Cheese costume on, hospitals, even skeletons. My dad used to always encourage me with this verse.

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”
-2 Timothy 1:7

Fear paralyzes if we allow it to govern our minds and actions. But perfect love casts out fear. You are all brave and courageous so start acting like it.

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