I am afraid of water I cannot see in; I am afraid of spiders (and the cockroach that climbed up the drain in our old apartment while I was taking a shower); I am afraid of falling from great heights; I am afraid of confrontation; I am afraid of never being enough.
Some of these things are reasonable; others, understandable. I've faced most of these fears, which lessens the brunt but does not take away the fear. These fears help make me more compassionate, more empathetic, more human.
Fear is the first noticeably personality trait in my seven week old daughter. She is afraid of the dark. In our bedroom in New Orleans, the city's street lamps are a couple feet from our windows, providing large dulled orange night lights. Back in Cincinnati, the guest room is so dark that I cannot see Grace's eyes staring back at me when I pick her up from her bassinet. She falls back asleep with the lights on, cries when she opens her eyes again and cannot see her little hands which reach upwards.
So, I bought her a Finding Nemo soother: lights, ocean wave music, and a friendly fish to say hello. It helped her, and being able to comfort her after I put her to bed that brought me comfort. I imagine God feels this way too -- in our moments of doubt, our moments of blindness, our moments of loneliness, He loves us and reaches out to us, gives us light.
When we belittle another's fear, we cannot help them. If a person feels unlovable, mocking their fear of being alone is only going to drive them more inward. If we push a self-conscious person to speak in front of the class, the anxiety is only going to rise. If we dismiss another's worries, we cannot see the motivating force of their actions.
Fear can, and should, be channeled. Fear is not an end point. Fear is an obstacle. There is always a way around it, always a way to overcome it (even if the fear persists). Fear is also a gift, if we so choose to accept it, in our journey - our fear of the Lord, our awe of his majesty. We see our limitations in fear, but we learn that they are opportunities, "for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7).
In my fears, I see myself. In my fears, I seek God. In my fears, I know God, who never departs from me; because even when the dark overwhelms, I know there is light.
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