Fear: The Proper Perspective
Are you ready?
I need you to make a mental list for me.
Oh, wait. You probably need to know what to list, right? The three things you're most afraid of. The things that make your heart race, your palms sweat, and your vision fade into pinpoints. Three things that cause you FEAR.
Now come along with me on a journey.
For more years than I can count, my biggest fears were rejection and failure. It's interesting to me that they're kind of the same thing, but one is internal and one is external. Feeling rejected on the outside would foster a feeling of failure on the inside. Believing I'd failed at something would lead me to believe I'd be rejected because of it.
It's okay if you listed spiders, snakes, and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night up above. I don't like spiders, either.
We're going to shift gears now. Take a look inside yourself for a minute. What is the worst thing that's ever happened to you? That event from your own life that comes to mind whenever you hear the word tragedy.
An experiment in psychology by someone who has absolutely no training in the field.
Dwell on that tragic memory for just a second. How did that event make you feel? How do you feel about it still?
Now look back up to your list at the top. (Yeah, I know, you didn't actually write it down. Humor me.)
Do you feel any different about those three items?
Experimental phase ends here. You may continue reading now.
I'm not sure I'd have ever become a writer if the worst thing that's ever happened to me in my life hadn't happened. I'd give up the career in a heartbeat if I could undo that tragedy. In 2011, my daughter became ill. She was just a couple months past her ninth birthday. In 2012, she passed away. I watched her endure six months of horror as medical complication after medical complication unfolded. She suffered things that no child – that no person – should ever have to withstand. I would have given my life to save hers. Nobody offered me that choice, though.
And, whether I wanted it to or not, the world around me marched went on. Then the day came when somebody asked me, "What are you going to do with the rest of your life?" And that was followed by, "I think you should write."
To a person whose biggest fears are failure and rejection, suggesting I become a writer wasn't any different than suggesting I run naked through downtown Washington D.C. in the middle of winter and jump in the reflecting pool in front of Abraham Lincoln, the tourists, and God. Right?
Then I realized something. The fear wasn't there anymore. Well, it was there, but I had a new perspective on it. If I wrote a book and was told it was the most miserable piece of literature ever created, so what? Could it possibly hurt worse than losing my daughter? No. If my book got published and critics ripped it to shreds until it bled all over the place, assuring my literary failure in the annals of history, would it hurt? Sure, but that hold a candle to the worst-thing-that's-ever-happened-to-me-in-my-life? Not by a long shot.
Do I still fear rejection? Am I still afraid of failure?
But I deal with it. I have a different perspective on it now.
Sometimes fear needs a little nudge to be put into proper place in your life. Fear's not necessarily a bad thing either.
The fear of pain keeps me from sticking my hand into an open flame. Or engaging with bad drivers who for whom road rage is a way of life.
The fear of suffering hypothermia and losing my limbs to frostbite keeps me from spending too much time in the frozen arctic that is currently my backyard. And front yard. And neighbor's yard. (You get the idea.)
The fear of hurting someone's feelings causes me to rethink what I'm going to say. If it needs to be said, I still say it – but I try to find a constructive and kind way to do so.
Here's the thing. If fear is paralyzing you from undertaking something worthy of accomplishment in your life, then find a way to put that fear in perspective. If, however, your fear is keeping you safe, alive, or is in some way preventing you from being turned into a flesh-eating zombie, then it might be a good kind of fear to keep around.
That's my two cents, anyway. (I'm American. I can't help it. Cents are all I have.)
Just Dessert by Heather Gray
Dessert…the perfect remedy when nothing in life seems to be going right.
What do you do when you are the sole protector of four children, your brothers and sisters? When each day is haunted by disappointment, disillusionment and desperation? When you believe that everyone who ever loved you, including God, has abandoned you?
You bake a pie, of course.
What do you do when you find a woman whose heart is consumed by fear? Who does not know how to trust? Who scoffs at your faith and throws your kindness back in your face?
You eat a pie, of course.
Seventeen year old Mary Fitzgerald stepped up next to the deacon, a beautiful looking strawberry pie in her hands. Today was the day she started taking lasting steps to protect her family. Pa was passed out at home, having drunk so much there was no way he would be waking up to come to the festivities at the church today.
She had been taking care of and protecting her younger brothers and sisters, the four of them, as far back as she could remember, but her pa was getting meaner and nastier with each passing year. Her brothers were getting angrier and more volatile, too. It was important to get them all out from under Pa's thumb before her brothers were ruined for life, sentenced to turn into men like their pa.
Hoping to find a man willing to wed her and take her brothers and sisters in, too, Mary had entered herself in the dessert auction at a picnic hosted by the church. The auction was one of many events at the picnic, but it was the only one in which Mary was interested. Only eligible men were allowed to bid, and she hoped to use the auction to find a husband. How old, ugly or poor – Mary didn't care as long as he didn't beat or terrorize them. That was her highest hope, to find a man who did not cause her to cower, who did not break her bones, who would not harm her brothers and sisters. She had poured all her hopes for escape into making this pie to help her find a husband. Harboring no illusions about love, Mary didn't even really care if the man was kind; she only needed him not to be too terrible.
As the diminutive deacon with thinning grey hair was about to begin the bidding, Mary glanced up. Fear grabbed hold of her heart and squeezed so tight she thought she might faint right there. Neither the sea of curious faces nor the beautiful blue Idaho sky drew her attention. Pa was coming, and he looked madder'n a hot, hungry bull. Mary couldn't move. Her breath came in short, shallow gasps as she tried to stay conscious. She was terrified of this man. They had been so certain Pa would stay passed out all day, that he wouldn't be able to discover their plan until it was too late. The kids had all dressed in their finest clothes and promised to be on their best behavior – no small feat for the boys – and now here came Pa, ruining their chance for escape.
The deacon had not seen Mr. Fitzgerald yet and was taking a big breath in preparation to start the bidding. His mouth was still open, sucking in air, when the bellow came from the back of the crowd, "That's my young'un and ain't nobody biddin' on her pie! I ain't raisin' no harlot to get paid for her favors!"
Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.
Where to find Heather:
Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting
Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite