Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil Psalm 23:4
Cable news networks peddle fear like an addictive drug twenty-four hours a day. Vignettes on crime, economic uncertainty, scandal, and war barrage the senses, narrated by perfectly coiffed models with Madonna smiles. Stories stitched together with commercials that tell us we aren’t enough. Not cool enough, rich enough, thin enough, or young enough.
When I was a boy, my only remembered fears were things like scary movies, the Dodgers beating the Reds, and missing supper.
As a young man my fears were few but deep. The fear of not measuring up. The fear of being alone and unloved. Fear of living without meaning.
Now in mid life (assuming I live to be just over 100) it seems I have become a collector, nay a hoarder of fears. Like a toddler who tries to keep all their toys in the sandbox from the other kids, I too have tried to protect myself from loss, with an unhealthy dose of fear for my toil.
Typically as we get older we have more to lose. More possessions, more family, more friends (if we are blessed). What once was a small circle of concern now has ballooned to include children, grandchildren, and parents. With it, my fears have grown too
Fear can serve a good purpose, protecting us from dangerous or foolhardy endeavors. But fight or flight taken as steady fare becomes a poison that permeates everything, destroying health and happiness. Good things used improperly often follow a similar path.
So what sage advice can I offer you, faithful reader, to overcome your own fears? My discoveries are not new, or unique. Fortunately they needn’t be.
First is learning what I am truly responsible for, and more importantly what I am powerless over. The list of the former is minuscule compared to the latter.
Don’t borrow someone else’s responsibilities – let people be accountable for themselves
Recognize that fear is often a worry about something that has not yet occurred, and in many cases will not occur. Living in those fears of what may or may not happen tomorrow robs you of today’s joys.
And perhaps most important…unplug from the constant din of 24 hour news cycles. You can’t control the programming, but you can control the power button.