Daily archives of “April 15, 2012

The Fear Factor

This is just a summary of what the reverend said during this morning’s service.

Fear impairs, distorts, and ultimately destroys relationships. How? Let’s see…

First of all, let’s talk about the benefits of fear. Fear keeps you out of trouble. It safeguards you from dangerous things. Fear keeps you alive. Want proof? Why do you think we always look carefully left and right before crossing the road, even when we’re on a pedestrian crossing? Because we don’t want to get hit by a car. Why? Because we’re scared of getting hurt, we’re scared of getting injured, and we’re afraid of death. If we weren’t so scared of death, the world’s population might be a lot lower than it is today.

Alright then, on to the next question: what’s so bad about fear?

Fear distorts the way we think. Imagine you’ve stolen a car and you’re cruising around town. The fear in your mind keeps you alert and vigilant. But you’ll start getting paranoid. You’d think that every cop in town is going after you, and you’d even think some ordinary people are actually cops in civilian clothing. You’d be extra careful, but the paranoia would just make you jumpy, and then you’d start making mistakes that you wouldn’t have done if you had no fear. Also, fear makes us lie, because we think we can protect ourselves and the people and/or things that are of value to us by lying. Obviously, this will just make things worse.

Fear makes us possessive. If you think you own something, and you fear of losing it, you’d be extra careful about where you put it, how you treat it, and so on. That’s why people who own old indestructible Nokia phones are more easygoing about their phones than iPhone owners. Same thing with humans: if you think you own someone and you fear of losing them, you’d do all kinds of crazy things to keep that person yours. You’d be overprotective or just be plain annoying to that person, and in the end all that’s gonna get you is a bad end to your relationship.

Fear makes us focus on the wrong things. Imagine a room full of people, and then suddenly a guy appears at the door and starts shooting a machine gun. Two things will happen. First, people will scatter around, duck, run, and just find cover. This puts distance between people. After that, people who still survive will group together and just hold on so tightly to each other because of fear. This destroys everyone’s personal space. In this particular shooting scenario, we are supposed to follow our survival instincts, otherwise we’ll die. But in relationships, if we focus on our fear of losing someone or something, we may let our survival instincts take over. We then become so focused on preserving ourselves and what we think we own. The same things happen: we stay away, or we move too close. When people do this, relationships get strained and even destroyed.

So, the key to have a good relationship (or, as the reverend says it, a good fellowship), we must properly address our fears. Here are some examples.

Don’t be afraid of losing anything. If you are afraid of losing your phone, your money, your house, or even your spouse, you’re forgetting where you got those things in the first place. God gave us everything we own. If it hadn’t been for Him, we would’ve owned nothing. So why are we grasping so tightly on to things we think we own? We don’t need to be afraid of losing our job, our career, our money, our house, because He will provide for us. If we truly love someone, we don’t have to be afraid of losing them, because true love sets people free, it empowers people instead of putting them in a cage that we created. So what this means for us is that we need to change what drives us to do things. Do your job because you love it. Hang out with your boss not because you’re expecting a promotion but because he really is a good guy and you love conversing over a cup of coffee with him. Hang out with your friends because you enjoy being with them. Do good things to your crush/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse because you love them, not because you fear of losing them. When we can do this, we can be more sincere in everything we do, and we can have peace of mind because we’re not afraid of losing anything. We are free to be ourselves, free to express how we feel, and free to enjoy life as we should.

Don’t be afraid to give. People often hesitate to give because they think they don’t even have enough for themselves. Well, they should again remember who gave them all their stuff in the first place: God. Other people are afraid to give because they are afraid of rejection. They then shield themselves with masks and pretend to feel nothing, even though deep in their fragile hearts they yearn to express their love to other people. Simple example: some kids don’t want to go to school for fear of not getting any friends. They think other kids are mean even though they haven’t met anybody yet. Another example: teens or even adults back out of a possible relationship because they fear of getting rejected and hurt. Well hey, if you really love that person, you’ll be focusing on sincerely giving your love to him/her instead of protecting your own weak heart. If you get hurt because you’re rejected, then you’re not in love; you’re just seeking to control that one person that catches your attention (and perhaps spikes your hormone levels). When you give sincerely, with the correct motivation, and in the correct proportion (just enough — not less or more than what is needed), your gift will be a blessing and will enhance your relationship.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. In a healthy relationship, no one is scared of being themselves. If, for example, a kid is afraid to tell her dad that she wants to study architecture because her dad wants her to go to med school, there’s something wrong with their relationship. A truly healthy relationship frees everyone to be themselves, completely, without compromising each person’s personal space, and without dissolving the unique personality of everyone involved. A good example is when we try to empathize with a friend who is sad. We try to put ourselves in her shoes, try to feel her pain and sadness. In the end, when she has recovered and is happy again, we end up being the grumpy guy because we’re still feeling her pain and sadness. That’s not empathizing, that’s sympathizing, and we end up losing our own self. We need to constantly remember that I am I, and you are you, and there is no way I can be you or you can be me. When we empathize with someone, we may attempt to understand their feelings and emotions, but we must always be aware that it is them who are feeling those feelings and emotions, not us.

So, what happens when fear is kicked out of our relationships? We can have a sincere, healthy, and balanced relationship. We can have a fulfilling relationship, one that enhances our experience of life and allows us to enjoy it as best we can. Let’s try.