I am fearful that I won’t be able to contribute any ‘good’ ideas…I’m afraid of the responsibility of it… I am afraid of taking risks…I’m afraid that I won’t be able to choose the best outlet for the gift…
Fear. We’re not very far into the Biblical text before fear has Adam by the throat. The first divine question posed to humanity is “Where are you?” To which man responds, “I was afraid…”
Yep. I get fear. Maybe you do too.
Researchers say humans have a built-in disposition to listen to the most sensational of our fears. We will fear the sensational – though unlikely – instead of fearing the more likely, but more mundane scenario.
This explains the phenomena of being more frightened to get on a plane than to get behind the wheel of our cars. Teenagers take note. The odds are 11 million to 1 that you will die in a plane crash. 5,000 to 1 that you’ll die in a car accident. But try telling that to the vodka swigging travel companion next to you on the United flight, right?
It’s the reason we may fear someone breaking into our home and murdering us in our beds at night – when it’s far more likely that we will expire from our high fat diet. We inflate the sensational and downplay the more familiar.
Here’s the thing about fear – every fear has a story associated with it. We don’t just fear cancer. We fear the pain, the lingering illness, losing our hair, paralyzing fatigue, chemotherapy, death. We fear the story cancer brings with it.
To listen to one fear over the others is to believe one story more than the others. This is the great power of the fear story — we not only believe it, but we act on it too. Jesus keeps telling us an alternative story.
- In a world dominated by scarcity, Jesus tells us a story of abundance.
- In a country dominated by asserting our ‘rights’, Jesus shows us a story of sacrifice;
- and in relationships dominated by competition, Jesus says our fortunes are tied together, that we receive when we give and live when we let our self interests and greed die.
People who live freely, even with fears, have some similar characteristics: The first is this: When fear starts to rise up, they remember they have defeated this fear before. They are people who have read this map before. They know what’s really behind this fear. They remember the bigger story this fear is communicating.
And secondly, they order their little fears under a bigger ‘fear’. Let me explain:
You may be scared to stand up to a bully, but the alternative is even more frightening. It may be frightening to go up against an unjust policy, but a future without human rights is no future at all. Picking up the phone and confessing what you have done, or speaking the truth that’s been done to you may be the hardest thing you can imagine – the only thing worse is to NOT do it.
These $500 gifts force us to ask the question, What story are we going to listen to? But you don’t need $500 to do that. You can ask the same question when you are faced with a scary situation or a vulnerable conversation. Ask yourself, Do I actually believe that story? Or is there a truer story out there? When we gave out the money we took concrete steps to act on a truer story – the story of abundance.
What story are you acting on today?