Today I kicked a snake on my morning walk with the dog. I felt pretty proud of myself when I looked back to see what I had just stumbled over on the sidewalk. I let out a mini yelp when I saw the foreign object I stumbled over was a snake flicking it’s tongue, but then I thought to myself, “ why am I yelling? I already kicked a snake and there is nothing of which to be fearful of after the fact.” I would have been fearful of the snake had I seen it before I kicked it, but after the fact the same level of fear was not there.
This same phenomena is true with fear of many other things. We fear what could happen and yet rarely does that fear come true, but somehow a negative emotion from our past is what we associate with that fear and from that day forward, we associated the feeling of a negative emotion with fear and specific things. When I was a child I learned to fear roller coasters from a negative experience at age five and I assumed I did not like roller coasters. At age five I begged my mother to take me on a roller coaster at a small local amusement park and the ride did not turn out well. My mother could barely hold me into the coaster because the straps were not designed for a five year old and on one occasion I almost fell out of the coaster. Between my mother’s fear and my physical fear I was quite sure I did not like roller coasters for many years. I was avoiding the feeling I felt at age five that were quite traumatic. I tried roller coasters again at age 15 and discovered I loved the thrill more than I felt fear and I would have never known it if I continued to avoid that feeling of fear.
Paul says it this way in I Corinthians 13 when he talks of making decisions based on emotions. “11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” What are your childhood or adult fears that you continue to hold onto as a result of a bad experience? Under what conditions will you decide to release that fear? Here is what I know to be true when it comes to fear; in addition to avoiding possible negative feelings, we may be avoiding joy and empowerment too. Kicking the snake today made me slightly more empowered in dealing with my fear of snakes. Whether it was a fluke or not, kicking the snake made me feel more in empowered with my fear of snakes. What fear is holding you back from joy and empowerment? And by the way, I am pretty sure I will never love snakes.