Alright, I’m not trying to flog my vacation. Really. I’ve already posted enough about the trip, but something interesting came up while we were away, and it triggered a bigger issue that I feel the need to address. After this week, we’ll have a California-free zone.
During the trip, I posted here that we would be out of town for the week. I also made a few quick personal updates to Facebook* during the trip. After the third update, it happened.
Hey, are you sure you want to let everyone know that you’re not home?
You want the world to know that your house is vacant and ripe for break-in?
Now, they were just looking out for my family’s well being, and I’m not knocking them for showing concern. The media has issued warnings about this. There are stories on the Internet. I certainly don’t want our home to be robbed. That would suck.
Our house wasn’t vacant, though. We’d asked a friend to house-sit, because we didn’t want our house to be empty for a week. But we would have done that whether or not there were media warnings and Internet stories. It’s just common sense.
What really frustrated me about my friends’ comments wasn’t that they were concerned. It was that I had had the exact same conversation in my head before I’d finally forced myself to post. And again right before I had written each update. I was tired of fighting with the fear.
Fear doesn’t prevent death. It prevents life.
As a private, introverted person, I don’t share as much of my life and my thoughts as I should. Convincing myself that I should let my guard down this one time, despite my fears, was a chore. It always is.
Fear is convenient. It’s easy. We are able to fall comfortably back on it when an opportunity presents itself that will require us to stretch and grow. When there’s risk involved, fear is an excuse always within reach.
We’ve been hurt before by friends or lovers, so we won’t allow another the chance to do the same. We put up walls, quickly find fault, and extend no grace when a new person enters our lives. We deny ourselves community, family, and love just to avoid the potential of pain. Out of fear.
We’ve been attacked for our beliefs before, so we remain silent and avoid the conflict. Our faith is hidden safely away, practiced behind closed doors so the world won’t be offended. Ideology suffers a similar fate, never to be challenged, confirmed, strengthened or softened. Out of fear.
Again and again, in circumstances too numerous to imagine, fear rises up and we instinctively respond with the safe, easy answer. That’s disappointing, because we need to take risks. We need conflict. We need to engage each other, do new things, challenge ourselves, and grow.
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
– Benjamin Franklin
The minuscule chance that my house might be robbed is a terrible reason not to share the amazing and mundane experiences that I get the privilege of living through, no matter what the medium.
The friends that I’ve lost in pain have saddened me. How much should I be saddened by those who I’ve never had the opportunity to know out of fear of pain?
And my faith touches every part of my life. Hiding it is an offense to my Lord and Creator.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:6-7
Stop living in fear!
(On a similar note, the very tiny risk that your child might be abducted by a nefarious stranger is a terrible reason to seclude them and deny them the opportunities of childhood. Stop spreading this paranoia to the next generation!)
Question: What experience are you denying yourself because you’re afraid of failure or pain? What have you done despite your fear that led to something awesome in your life?
*(As an aside, on Facebook I just friend people whom I’ve physically met with only a few exceptions. You can request, but please don’t be offended if I decline.)