F. E. A. R. and Freedom

Living a life free of fear.

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I don’t know about you, but I was born fearful. I’ve been that way all my life. I’m easily overwhelmed, a people pleaser, hard on myself and demanding of others. The latter comes from using other people to control my fear…poor coping skills I know.

We weren’t made to be fearful. God made us in love, gives us love and brings us Home with love. Why then does He put so many of us here without a sense of this divine connection? Why do so many of us live small, contained lives, spending more time on our smartphones than with human beings.

I live on an Army base in Georgia. My husband left for Afghanistan in August. My subdivision houses hundreds of families. How many of us actually know each other? Very few. The most friendly neighbor I have was not born in the U.S. None of them knows my husband is deployed.

On post we have a barn where my husband and I keep our three horses. We’ve been here for over a year. I’m at the barn about six hours a day. There are approximately sixteen families at the barn. Only two barn members willingly engage in conversation with me. Only one asks about my husband.

My husband and I also attend church on post. I know people there and attend a small group bible study. I love my church, the pastors and the people. How many have asked about my husband’s status? One.

I’m grateful anyone asks at all. In our world of disconnection, who wants to take the time to have a conversation? We are all so busy living our lives, running from one thing to the next, we don’t look up to see those we can help, those trapped in fear.

After several recent shootings in the U.S., the New York City pedestrian attack, the massive bombing of Mogadishu, Somalia, and casualties of a war we’ve fought for too long, how can we not be a fearful people? And in fear, how do we treat each other? Far too often, we treat others as disposable or not worth our time.

Several years ago, I decided to take my life back from fear, as much as possible. The first thing I did was cancel cable television. I DO NOT watch the news. I READ it. I don’t watch online news videos, stopped using Twitter, restrict my time on social media to about 20 minutes a day, on average.

Just getting television news out of my home made a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong, I have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’m a huge fan of Stranger Things and The OA, both on Netflix. But even with streaming, I limit my time.

Social and direct media often remind me of what I don’t have, based on things other people share about their lives. Crazy really, since we normally share our best and worst things on social media, not our day-to-day lives. Any media at this point at best provides “augmented reality.” It too often divides us, rather than brining us together.

I began to pray. I found a mentor and we began working through my life, clearing away the past as I developed new skills to cope in what I’ve always perceived as a hostile world. Little by little, love began to replace fear. It still is.

I’m a work in progress. Most of us are. If you are bound by fear, resentment, hate or intolerance, ask yourself why? Make a list of what binds you and share it with a trusted friend or mentor. When we get what’s not working out of our heads and our hearts, we create room for the good stuff, faith, love and hope.

Just for today, go gently. Treat yourself with kindness. Look in the mirror, really look, and tell the reflection how perfectly imperfect she is. Tell her you love her just as she is. In that moment, you begin to release fear. This one small act opens the door to freedom.

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