A while back when the first “Fear Factor” show came out I could only watch one or two episodes. I think I watched episodes where the contestants were challenged to eat a can of worms and and one where leeches were placed on a man’s face. Yuck! The show must be popular because it is still airing and in its fifth season although I think now the challenges are based more on stunts.
A recent sermon at Mass reflected on the Lenten season which reminded me that Lent is not about giving up things as much as it is about a conversion of heart. Our actions are based on what is in our heart and we are acting from blessing or wounded-ness. There are seven areas of wounded-ness that were named but I am sure there are more. Fear, Rejection, Hopelessness, Confusion, Abandonment, Shame, Powerlessness. We were asked to reflect on one of the areas for the entirety of Lent.
I chose Fear.
Fear is one of the most natural emotions because it is built into us to help us preserve our safety which is one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Fear is a strong emotion. As a child, I was often afraid of the dark and impending thunderstorms with brooding, dark skies that could potentially produce a tornado. These fears were warranted and related to a need to be safe. Other times as a child, it was the fear of rejection, not being picked first to play on a team and being picked on at recess. Some of the feelings from my childhood experiences have carried into adulthood and fear is one of them. Of course, having my camera stolen on a family vacation along with all of our passports was such a violation and has sometimes created fear and anxiety of which I am still feeling the effects of several years later.
As adults, we have to contend with old and new fears. We are told to face our fears, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In today’s world fear and its promotion of it in the media is all around us. There are many things we can be afraid of–political landscape, job loss, illness, nuclear missals, mass shootings, fear of spiders, fear of change, fear of public speaking, fear of failure, fear of death, etc. I don’t think there is a person on earth that is not afraid of one thing or another at one time or another. There are a multitude of fears we could list and some of them are even phobias for some people. We wouldn’t be able to walk out the door if we didn’t face our fears. I think a lot times, especially for me, it’s the fact that many situations cannot be controlled and that is why I fear them. Thankfully, it is not a debilitating fear, but fear nonetheless.
I am still evaluating my fears and perhaps working through some of them. Lent is not over.