By Kenneth Justice
~ ” Kenneth, I guess I would say it’s mind-blowing. I go through the motions every single day of my life and looking back at it all I realize how oblivious I was to the simple fact that the world is a lot bigger place than my little job and apartment”
I was sitting at coffee in Costa Rica a few weeks ago and had met a young man from the United States who was enjoying the seventh day of his vacation in Central America. It was his first trip ever outside of the U.S. and I had asked him what his thoughts were so far on his trip.
“I guess one of the things I’ve learned this past week is that when I’m back home I tend to get upset and wrapped up in a lot of stupid s**t, and being down here helps me realize how unimportant and silly some of those things are” he said
Yesterday morning I took the day off from my usual schedule of publishing an article in order to stop by ‘The Polar Plunge’; an event which drew thousands of people who lined up in 15 degree weather to jump into a freezing river for charity. And as I stood their snapping photos of these people I couldn’t help but think of the analogy between their fearlessness of jumping into the icy cold water and how so many people miss out on life because they are too afraid to make that first step.
Recently I talked with a single guy who had just experienced his first kiss with a woman since breaking up with his last girlfriend;
“Kenneth, it had been twenty one years since the last time I kissed a woman” he told me, “I guess I had built up in my mind all of these fears about women; I made it into too big of a thing to date and now that I finally gotten kissed again, well, I realize that a lot of my fears were based on false notions that I had —convinced myself into believing” he said
When I used to work as a counselor one of the most common things I would notice in clients was the propensity for people to paralyze themselves through self-psychoanalyzation; instead of merely stepping forward and taking a little bit of risk…..people often prevent themselves from moving forward in life by focusing on all of the potential pitfalls or fears related to decisions.
Yet, who of us are impressed by people that don’t take chances? What kind of book are we more likely to read; the biography of someone who lived an uneventful life because they were too afraid to live it…..or the memoir of a person who stepped forward in faith and made some tough decisions?
And while at times in life some of the risks we face might be something dramatic, like jumping into an icy river in the dead of winter…..more often than not the fears we face are related to the simple aspects of our day-to-day life;
—-) I know of a forty year old woman who has never had children because of her fear of weight gain. It’s not that she doesn’t ‘want’ children….but it is her fear of gaining weight that prevents her from doing so
—-) I know of a senior pastor who is too afraid of losing congregants (and thus losing money in the collection plate) that he refuses to preach against racism…..even though he has admitted privately that many of his wealthy white parishioners harbor tremendous amounts of racism
—-) I know of a mother who is so fearful of ending up alone that she turned her back on her own children in order to stay with a miserable man who demands all of her attention
If we’re not careful, fear has the ability to control us; It has the ability to wrap its tentacles all around our being and keep us weighed down and stuck in a type of paralysis, and instead of living life to the fullest, fear can prevent us from barely living life at all.
As a Christian, for a long time I couldn’t understand why so many of my fellow Christians seemed to act so callously toward the people at the bottom of society; I couldn’t figure out why there never seemed to be any room at church for the homeless, the neglected, the single moms, the abused women, and all the other people that don’t ‘look like church people’……..and it wasn’t until I realized one simple truth that things began to make sense to me; many of my fellow Christians live in fear.
—-) Some of my fellow Christians are afraid of allowing their children to be around gay people because they are afraid that it might lead their children to being gay
—-) Some of my fellow Christians are afraid of reaching out to the homeless and poor because it might mean they will be faced with having to open up their pocket book and giving money to those in need
—-) Some of my fellow Christians are afraid of helping out single mothers because they fear that it might lead to them having to sacrifice their time and energy babysitting someone else’s children
Fear is a powerful feeling…..and we can either overcome it or be paralyzed by it; ultimately each of us must choose.
Just a few thoughts this morning as I sipped my coffee. Thanks to my two little dogs who once again woke up me up an hour early for their morning constitutional, this has already been a long morning. Fortunately coffee still tastes good at 3:30 in the morning but if they keep doing this I’m going to have to get to bed earlier each night.
If you haven’t heard I’m visiting 100 coffee houses this year and my next stops include Atlanta (March 1st) St. Louis, Philadelphia, and more…check out my homepage for more dates and locations!
Categories: Culture & Society