Crippling Fear

flickr_-_sukanto_debnath_-_-1How many of us live with a gnawing fear of failure? Some of us are claustrophobic (fear of small spaces); others have acrophobia (fear of heights). Then, of course, there’s always snakes, in-laws, falling, and computers. I coined a phobia once—Christophobia! Fear of Christians.

The list of Phobia’s goes on ad infinitum. Too many of us pile one fear upon another, compounding the depth and extent of a once simple fear, now, a muddled mess of fears.

As the horde of our fears combine, they produce in us a reaction— an invisible shield of protection. This is a wall we put up to guard against further “attacks,” whether real or imagined, from the world outside. Unfortunately, over time, our inner walls start to crumble, and we find ourselves less protected than we once supposed. This breakdown of our protective barriers can lead to further fear, a crippling fear.

It is no simple matter to deal with crippling fear, let alone to overcome it. If not addressed it can eventually overwhelm you and take your life. This is a serious, irrational illness.

It is said that perfect love casts out fear. [1 John 4:18]  Short of God’s love for us I haven’t found much perfect love on this planet. Truthfully, sometimes even God’s love for us doesn’t drive out the fear that we grasp. But maybe that’s the problem—we really don’t want to let go of our fear. Somehow it has melded with the deepest part of our core and integrated into our identity. So now, it holds us.

Thus are we drawn into a war within ourselves; and it will not be an easy war to fight. Crippling fear knows just when and where to attack at every turn.

You will need help. Here are some simple tools I have used in my own fight with fear.

1.      Anger. [Yelling at God.]

2.      Prayer. [Listening to God.]

3.      Music.

4.      Scripture. Lots of it.

5.      One incredible friend (ok…, more than one).

6.      Counselors (again, more than one).

7.      Medication.

8.      Letting go of things I cannot change.

9.      Listing my fears.

10.  Single Malt Scotch (with that one good friend).

I don’t know if my list has been helpful: you may need to write your own. Whatever you do, DO NOT let this damn fear consume your life!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

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Getting lost

Lost, Thoreau, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, risk, reflectionMost of us, at some time or another, will get lost. It may be as simple as getting lost on back roads or forgetting where your glasses are; or, more seriously, getting lost in life; that is, losing your sense of direction, purpose, and/or identity. In short, you no longer know where you are, who you are, or where you are heading.

A dead stop.

In the midst of that empty confusion certain questions start to arise—

How did I get here? What could I have done differently? How do I start to dig out of this mess? More importantly— How do I find myself again? Who am I now? What do I do next?

Anxiety starts to immobilize your spirit; you cannot take any action for fear of further failure. But you have to do something. Anything! Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve gotten lost.

1.      I start taking small steps. What are the little things you can definitely accomplish that will bring some semblance of stability or order to your life? Do that. Then do another one.

2.      Keep in mind that when you are lost everything is a risk. Things you used to do as a simple matter have now morphed into insurmountable monsters. Nonetheless, you must face those monsters to overcome them. I had to. And I corralled a cadre of friends to stand by me as I faced them.

3.      Don’t ask God to do for you what you must do yourself. He is definitely in charge. But we are not mindless robots. He expects us to act responsibly with the time He has given us.

4.      God can’t direct a parked car. Start moving. If it’s in the wrong direction, He’ll redirect you.

5.      Establish NEW points of reference for your journey. The former points of reference are gone; you’ve already passed them. If you want to find your way again, you’ll need to discover a whole new set of reference points to guide you. I find I need to cut back on my activities to give my mind, and heart, time to process the mental & emotional shift. What will most likely be the next sign along your path that you are getting back on track?

With all the variables we have to juggle these days it’s easy to get lost along the way. You have to work hard to get back on track. So get to it. Drive! You will not stay lost for long. [Proverbs 16:3.]

Honor God, honor people…, make a path,

  Gary

Why my heart aches

There have been too many times in life where my heart has been crushed by the suffering of others. Their experiences and anguish were hard to hear. I can’t imagine how they lived through those times. Some had gathered the fortitude and faith to persevere; others, not so much.

What the human spirit, heart, and body can endure always amazes me. I remember a woman, a teacher, once came to me with grey hair. The day before her hair had been auburn. The beating she had endured the previous night had been so terrifying that it turned her hair grey in a matter of minutes. Her husband is now in jail. How did she endure such terror?

Another person I know has almost lost her mind and any will to live because of a brutal rape. Another woman came to me after her 6th abortion. Sixth! She wasn’t sure who she was anymore; she wasn’t sure she could ever have children.

Other friends have lived through “less” traumatic experiences— the suicide of a husband, the loss of a job, living on the grace of others after months of unemployment, the loss of their child. My heart aches for these people.

Over the years, I have been able to move from sympathetic to empathetic, allowing me some distance to garner wisdom and perspective on their horror. It is hard to help another when we are in the thick of it with them. When there, we can offer comfort; but little else. We have not the strength.

On a grander scale, my heart aches for this world— the natural catastrophes, the fires, floods, and earthquakes; but also the human devastations— genocides, regional wars, terrorists attacks, the manipulation of the balance of trade, the prices of oil and grains, and forced poverty and human sex trafficking. The injustices I read online every hour. All of this weighs on me heavily.

How should I, should we, respond to this mess?

My first thought is to become a part of the solution. To make a difference! To be one-of-many who count the cost and throw themselves into the fracas. Who, instead of protecting our own interests, look to the needs and well-being of those truly in need.

Sure, my heart still aches. But at least I am doing something. How about you?

‘Nough said,

Gary

the wolf that is clawing at your door

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, Wolf, wolves, fear, door, Sometimes…, when we are alone at night, we can hear things— creaking floors, expanding pipes, hissing radiators, or dripping facets, that oft become more than they actually are. Our senses play tricks on us. We imagine someone trying to break in, someone coming up the stairs, or something in the room. Our fear crescendos until we reach to turn on the light. We breathe a sigh of relief; nothing there:  but what about outside the door? We pull the covers up.

Nonetheless, could it be that something is genuinely there? Not in the creaks and cracks of the walls that surround us, but just outside the doors of our minds, of our souls. We cannot see it. We sense it. We feel it. We know something is “out there,” that wants us. We’re just not sure what.

Its clawing is relentless, constant. We can never quite evade the feeling that we are under surveillance, under assault.

As we move through our days, going about our business, getting things done, the scratching feels more subdued, less present, less a threat. It is when we are once again alone with ourselves that it returns— the wolf that is clawing at your door.

At times we toy with the clawing, imagining it to be an offer to open the door; an invitation to come and play with the beast, to see how close we can come to his claws, how close we can come to his jaws. We make a game of it, scratching back from the safety of our side of the door, 2½” away from certain flesh-shredding destruction. We find it exciting to play with evil so close to its fangs.

It is one thing to fall into danger, into the clutches of the wolf. It is quite another to play with it, as if it were a cuddly little puppy. He is not. For given the opportunity, the wolf would devour you and everything you hold dear. Yes, his games are exciting, tempting you to play outside in the dark; but in the end he would consume your flesh and crush your heart and soul in his jaws.

Life is full of vibrancy and celebration! Joy! But life is no game; though to avoid its uncertainties and difficulties we often pretend that it is. Wisdom dictates that we bear responsibility for our lives, our actions, and those within our safe-keeping. To do any less is to crack the door open for the wolf.  He would love to get his claws into you. Be on your guard. Always.

With caution,

Gary

I Fear

It is horrible to imagine that some of us live in a constant state of debilitating fear. Some of our fears may be based on past experiences so traumatizing that they defy words. Other fear is so deeply embedded in our past that we do not ever remember its roots: it’s just there. Some people believe fear is actually here, right now, waiting to walk through that door, or when the phone rings, or in a chance encounter. Some of us fear future events—some founded, some dreaded, some, only imaginary.

Many of us carry fears that are irrational phobias; fear of flying, heights, being enclosed in a small space, spiders, of men, of women. They are fears with little basis in the real world—but they are real enough to those who have them. And that is real enough to affect how we live and move every day.

Of course, few of us are like Nik Wallenda, casually strolling through life as if it were a tightrope over Niagara Falls. We’re somewhere in between—taking calculated risks, pushing forward with fear and trepidation. And rightly so; it’s a cruel world out there. Everywhere! Dangerous.

Fear can often be conquered through trust. Where do we place our trust? What constitutes a safe, person, a safe faith, a safe place? A platoon leader, a counselor, a drinking buddy (or, someone for tea), home? There are so few places of safety these days; even fewer safe people. All of us, no matter the extent of our fear, need to establish a relationship with someone with whom we are safe. We need safe places as well. A safe faith is for those who know they are secure in the God who made them, no matter what. The fear is still very present; but somehow it is different for people of faith.

 The only way to overcome fear is to face it (preferably with your safe friend), head-on or gradually, and begin to establish a trust in the God who has made you. Deep fears are the hardest to conquer with trust; but if you are not pushing against them, and laying them before the God of the Universe, they will conquer you. Do NOT let them. You are made of better stuff. You need not do it alone, either. There is always a God in the heavens who calls you—

So do not fear, for I am with you;

Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

~Isaiah 41:10

‘Nough said,

Gary

fireheart

The flame ignited, burning hot, passions flaring, intensity glowing, depth and elation stretching the limits of reason, mind and body. Your heart is racing, blood pumping. You are ready. You are on fire! Inextinguishable energy personified.

But there is another side. Burned. Emotionally, physically, to the core of your being. Trust destroyed. Energies extinguished. Your heart a pyramid of embers, not even smoldering. Or, ruthlessly smoldering with rage.

The heart holds such sway over human nature. Kingdoms have been built, flourished, defended, and lost because of visions dreamed and passion abated. Great art and great destruction have flowed from its river. The heart is a burning flame with the capacity to inspire or enrage. If crushed, its restoration is costly, both in time and effort. For a wounded heart is reluctant to let even its possessor near.

So what is it that ignites this simple organ, this muscle that calibrates and controls the flow of our life blood throughout our body? What is it that transmutes it from a simple body part into our source of passion and power? What enflames it to become a fireheart ?

1. A Challenge. Whether a problem to solve or a situation to resolve, or a task to be accomplished, it is only a burning desire within that is formidable enough to achieve a triumphant outcome.

2. Anger. Some things should get us so mad that we do something about it; not in retaliation, but in sensible reactions that resolve issues.

3. Intense Fear. The fear that cripples so severely may also serve as the catalyst that launches our hearts to fight. Use fear: do not give into it. [Note. Soldiers at war, in face of imminent death, have moved from mere men to heroes when they faced this fear.]

4. Faith. Believing that something is right and worth living for is an inspiring launching pad for great accomplishments. IF you truly believe in it. And act! [Note. Many genuine Christians have given their lives for what they believed; fewer agnostics or atheists have done the same.]

One final point to ponder— Is your heart a fireheart? What are you doing about it?

Have a nice week,
Gary

terrified

Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, fear, terrified, suicide, life, insecure,Far too many people around our planet survive their days in petrifying terror. Whether due to the horrors of war, abusive families, or constant failures, they have become a class of human beings who dread life. Their intense fear fossilizes them into a dormant state of seclusion from life’s activities, people, and society. Eventually, they lose any accurate connection with true-realityand cocoon themselves within their ever shrinking world. For some, it is just too much to bear and they execute the ultimate separation from their fear. They end their life.

Terrorized people are oft categorized as recluses, hermits, most fourteen year olds, monks, ascetics, and those with paranoia and/or phobias. We think of these people as mentally ill; and some probably are. They range from insecure youths to the executive offices of corporate and governmental leaders: they are among the under-dogs and the privileged. The common fear they possess knows no rank or race. It is a soundless terror eating away at their soul.

Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting The Scream, depicts his own horror in a moment of realization that death awaits us all. He too lived a life of constant terror, bordering incessantly on insanity. Even though his works have received international acclaim as some of the finest examples of Expressionist Art, Munch ultimately isolated himself from the world outside in his estate at Ekely (Skøyen, Oslo) where he died at age 80. Throughout his life he remained deeply obsessed with morbid pietism and psychoneurosis. “The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born.” [Prideaux, Sue (2005), Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, New Haven: Yale University Press, p.2.]

It is often impossible to overcome such a deeply rooted sense of dread. Nonetheless, there are many who have overcome being terrified of life and reentered the land of the living. How?

  1. Some have gotten angry. Tired of this life-sucking way of living they finally got mad enough to fight back. They fought themselves; a fight never easy of enjoyable to wage. Until you win. (Note- they often had to fight other peoples’ perceptions of them as well.)
  2. Many have admitted their inability to beat this agony alone and sought the support of others. No man is an island. Seeking another’s support takes an active decision to trust. Trust is indispensable in defeating terror. It is a risk that must be taken.
  3. They did not give up after every falter or failure. THEY DID NOT GIVE UP. But they really wanted to.
  4. Many have turned to God in prayer. Whether you view prayer as truly talking to the God of the universe or not, prayer seems to elicit some form of cleansing, healing, and peace. Personally, I actually talk to Someone. What bothers me is when God talks back.
  5. They rejoiced as pieces of pain were lifted from their souls. Small victories.
  6. Some, whom I have counseled, also danced and sang. This self-therapy surprised me. In some way it freed their spirits to soar above the terror and gave them new perspectives on it.

Living a continuously terrified life is not a life. It is an inner death sentence being carried out long before actual death. May God grant you His power to speed you on your journey to new life!

Have a nice week,

Gary