Many of us have fears. They are more common than most people believe. Common ones include: fear of flying, fear of speaking in public, fear of heights, fear of dark, fear of intimacy, fear of death, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of spiders, fear of flying, fear of water, fear of dogs, etc. The list goes on and on. As a preacher and preaching professor I do not have the fear of speaking in public (but I do still get nervous). I do not shriek at the sight of mice or spiders. And I am a calm flyer. Dogs – well, I am allergic to them and their fur/licking creeps me out but I am not afraid of them. So when I think of fears, I am not sure if I actually have a fear of something other than fear of failure. But fear of failure is one I think almost everyone has.
But I have friends and family who live with significant fears. I have a friend who cannot drive over bridges without having an anxiety attack. I have a Mom who never learned to swim so we grew up with her serious discomfort around water. I have a colleague who is terrified of flying so he drives to every conference or family event he has to go to – even driving days without stops to avoid flying. And I have a best friend who is afraid of heights. She got caught at the top of a Ferris wheel one time and now is terrified of heights and specifically of Ferris wheels.
We were recently in Chicago together and visited Navy Pier. On my plan for the day was riding the giant Ferris wheel. On her list was avoiding the Ferris wheel at all costs. For those who are uninitiated this Ferris wheel is “150-foot-high. Modeled after the world's very first Ferris wheel, an engineering marvel constructed for Chicago's 1893 World Colombian Exposition, the Navy Pier Ferris wheel lifts visitors to unparalleled sweeping views of the skyline and lakefront. The Pier's wheel has forty gondolas seating six passengers each.” (From Navy Pier publicity)
So there we were … standing just 50 yards away from this behemoth and I ask casually, “Wanna try to conquer a fear and ride the Ferris wheel?” I just knew she would say no. But out of her mouth came – “well …” I knew it was time. I showed her that this Ferris wheel does not stop – it just slowly moves and you hop on. She agreed so I quickly ran to get our $6 tickets and got in line. So we did it. We rode the Ferris wheel and got some amazing pictures of the Chicago skyline. It was thrilling and not as scary as she thought (after one initial anxiety filled minute).
Upon our return to the ground, I was delighted with and proud of my role in helping her overcome this great fear. (LOL!) More importantly, she was proud of herself. She had faced a fear and taken the ride of her life. Actually, overcoming fears is something that is quite hard but it also something we all need to do. We need to confront what makes us afraid and do what we can to overcome those fears. Not all of them can be overcome without intervention or counseling – so I do not want to belittle anyone’s fears. But I do want to address those things that keep us from moving forward. When we allow our fears to keep us from being our best selves, we need to do something about it. When we allow our fears to keep us from experiencing life and all it offers us, we need to do something about it.
I believe God is a gracious and powerful God who is present with us always. So when I am afraid I try to remember that God is there holding me and comforting me. I believe that and it gives me great comfort. It may not feel like it helps if ever a BIG fear hits me upside the head but I live in the belief that I can do all things with God. So bring it on!!