The Beauty Of Fear – By Anthony Gyening-Yeboah
“Even though I walk through the vally of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Psalm 23:4
As human beings, we have quite a number of instincts and emotions that offer a helping hand in our quest for survival on this blue planet. One of these elements that is evident in our nature is fear. From the beginning of life (whether creationism or evolution), humans have always had fear. From Wikipedia (March 31, 2012), fear is defined as “a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat.” It is further explained as being “a basic survival mechanism which all persons, consciously or unconsciously have in some sort.” Also, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/fear (March 31, 2012), fear is defined as “a vital response…” which “…if we couldn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.” It was further clarified that, “…often we fear situations that are in no way life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason.”
From the definition offered by Wikipedia, it can be realized that threat to which we have fear is actually a perception. Thus it is not necessarily the reality. This is because perception is the understanding we have of the world outside our minds. Sometimes the perception we may have of the outside world may be what the actual world is. And this is knowledge. On the other hand, our perception may be a wrong understanding of the outside world, and this makes our perception false. Considering the definition offered by http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/fear, some threats were considered as legitimate. And this may also presuppose the existence of illegitimate threats as well.
In view of the variability of the inducers of fears; the legitimacy and illegitimacy of some threats; and the concept of perception, this essay tries to find out what fear has to tell us; and what fear is never telling us any time our perceived threats invites it. When we take what fear is not telling us, we realize that fear is never telling us to stop what we are about doing; it is not telling us that we are incapable; and it is not telling us that we shall fail. On the other hand, fear is telling us that we should pause and think; we can fail; there are gray areas; and finally fear reminds us that we are human.
A. FEAR IS NOT SAYING
1. FEAR IS NOT SAYING STOP
In most cases, when we encounter the perceived threats, all that we tend to think is that intuitively we are being informed to stop whatever pursuit we are about embarking on. Thus we are made aware that the future is bleak, hence we have to stop in order to survive or even save our face. But have we ever given it thought that there are some instances where no matter the magnitude of the fear; and the degree of your conviction that the fear is genuine, the fear is never saying stop. It will be greatly unreasonable to stop because of the fear in that instance. For example, when you are filled with fear on the eve of the day for your interview in order to be admitted into the medical school, are you going to forget about the interview because of the fear?
Also in the Christian bible, is the scripture, “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” saying stay away from God? It is absolutely ridiculous to explain these fears as signposts of stoppage. On the other hand, in some instances, when fear sprouts in our hearts and minds, it appears not to be vividly evident that it is saying either stop or do not stop. This is because both stop and do not stop may have some unfavourable ends. For example, when you are contemplating whether to enter into a relationship with someone; or even marry someone, there is this small fear that flickers in your heart. But one thing you have to know is that, that fear is not saying stop. The fact that it is not saying stop, does not also presuppose go on. This is because do not stop does not mean start or go on. Rather, it means something else which would be discussed in the succeeding sections of this essay.
2. FEAR IS NOT SAYING YOU ARE INCAPABLE
Sometimes we interpret the inception of fear with respect to any of our endeavours as a reminder that we are incapable of that endeavour. This is absolutely not right. In the story of Jesus Christ (according to John 12:27; NIV), the heart of Jesus was troubled when he envisioned and spoke of his death. But I know it needs no explanation when I say that that troubled heart never meant that Jesus Christ was incapable. Also does that small fear that children hoard when they are about crossing a road mean that they are incapable of crossing roads? Fear is by no means telling us that we are incapable.
3. FEAR IS NOT SAYING THAT YOU SHALL FAIL
Failure is among the common interpretations we give to fear whenever we are afraid. But the interesting issue is that fear is at this point not telling us that we will fail. Rather it is saying something very interesting that is worth knowing which shall also be discussed. Is the fear of God saying that God will fail you? I guess we all know the myriad instances that we had fear but still succeeded. This should inform as that fear is not foreseeing failure but something else. But the fact that fear is not seeing failure does not mean that it is foreseeing success. Then the interesting question to ask is, what then is fear seeing?
B. FEAR SAYS
1. FEAR IS SAYING PAUSE AND THINK
The question that was raised about what fear meant if it never meant stop, did not necessarily mean start or go on, has the answer right here. Fear is rather saying pause and think; it is saying pause and think about the threat; pause and study the object of fear. In Proverbs 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, the scripture is not saying do not go to God, neither is it saying that do not show respect to God. Rather, the scripture is saying that as you live, pause each moment and think about God. As you think about God (His being; His word; His actions; His silence), you will come to realization that you do not have to move away from him; but rather approach him in a highly venerable way but not like a fool. And as you continuously pause, study, and approach God, you gain wisdom.
Whatever it is that you fear, what the fear is telling you is that, pause and think about the threat. You shall know that you need not fear some at all; you may not have to approach some; and you may have to approach some. Can you imagine the quantum of knowledge and wisdom you may have been possessing by now if you had paused and thought of the objects of your fear since you were a child? Do you fear to love again because of a recent broken heart? Just pause and think about love, and you shall realize that love is the greatest and most wonderful energy and power in the world; you cannot afford to be left out of this wonderful milieu of love. You may also realize that that which you once thought was love was no love at all. You may fear discipline/correction because of the pain it has always been associated with. But just pause for a moment and think of discipline/correction and pain, and you shall realize that there is no gift like the gift of discipline/correction and pain.
2. FEAR SAYS YOU CAN FAIL
Fear is not saying that you shall fail, but rather saying that there is a probability that you might fail. In view of this piece of information from fear, you will have to be a sage and make sure that you are more probable to succeed than to fail. And this calls for serious preparedness. Anytime fear enters your heart, all that you are been told is that you can fail. It is then up to you to make optimum room for success to thrive.
3. FEAR SAYS THERE ARE GRAY AREAS
Also, fear informs us that there are some areas pertaining to the future that we may have no idea of. Thus this also calls on us to put down measures that will aid us to find the unknowns that we can find. And the unknowns that we cannot find, we leave them to a superior being. Hence, anytime we have fear, we will have to identify the facets of the threat that we do not know, and find means of getting to know them. And with this knowledge in our possession we tend to become better persons.
4. FEAR REMINDS US THAT WE ARE HUMAN
Fear, a basic and crucial facet of human nature, always reminds us of how human we are (thus, how fallible we are). Sometimes we tend to think of ourselves as super humans, infallible, all knowing, and omnipotent, but fear is always there to remind us that there is a point where our strength, wisdom, skills, and knowledge ends. This important awareness is not meant to condemn us, but to instill humility and truthfulness in us. Also, fear does not only remind us of our weakness as humans, but also reminds us of how capable we are to cause any change we want in our lives. The beauty and mystery of human nature is that, we are weak and strong at the same time. In fact, as part of our human nature, we die. It is in view of this that fear helps us put measures in place that will save our lives. If you have no fear, may tread places angels fear to enter.
Fear is really of great importance to humans and our stay on this blue planet. It is of no doubt that it gives a helping hand in our survival. Fear is good; it must be respected as such, and meditated upon in order to tap wonderful facets of this important element in nature. God bless the world and mankind.