As a common denominator of the human existence, fear is the most pervasive and communicable of emotional sickness. We walk along the corridor of our daily lives, attempting to live a life that is authentic and full and seemingly out of nowhere we turn a corner and run face first into manifestations of fear, unexpectedly and most disturbingly. Whether it shows itself in the slight lip curl of a sneer, the jealous look of another person or an aggressive racist rant the fear virus is there infecting our relationships and tainting any potential for intimacy. The most telltale sign that you have been infected by fear is exclusion and separation. It is fear that separates us from the connection that can only be found in human relationship. Making us tentative and reluctant to step fully into the vulnerability necessary to truly fulfill our most precious human need; the need for connection. Fear that your normal will change, that your status quo will be challenged, or that you will be found lacking to flow with the change around you, whatever the trigger, your soul seizes in on itself and screams, “danger.”
Fear: /ˈfir/ noun – An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
If you stand in the virtual center of your communities, churches or businesses and do a 360˚ turn and ferret out the possible contamination of fear around you, and most damaging, in you, you will see that none of us is immune. It is fear that makes us resort to our tribes, groups and clusters tethered together by our comfortable dynamics and similar tastes. We gather with our same five friends, and laugh at the same five jokes, and visit one of our five favorite restaurants and bask in our similitudes. We bathe ourselves in the comfort that these same relationships will not challenge us to think differently, stretch emotionally or grow personally. Now, don’t get offended because I am pro your girls (believe me.) I just want to challenge you to open your heart enough to search out the strongholds of fear that are potentially holding you back from the full potential of your life’s calling.
It is in the close connection of our women’s groups, book clubs, or kaffeeklatsches that the spread of the fear virus has the most damaging potential. With our eyes locked on one another, our ears only attuned to the voices of those we are connected to we turn our backs to the world around us. What once started as intimacy amongst us becomes apathy to them. Strange becomes the way others think, react or worship and with this strangeness, we give ourselves the tacit permission to ignore that which we don’t understand or have synergy with. The roughly drawn lines of demarcation become etched, then carved making it harder to overcome. Not malicious or intentional are these separations but intention does not circumvent the damage that is done. The power that comes from embracing the “other” that we invite closer allows us to absorb the nutrients that are rich in healthy and diverse relationships.
I’m not asking you to completely disengage from your core group of friends but in an attempt to stop the pandemic spread of fear in and around you, pull back enough to create room for more. Keep the connection but create the space for those younger or older than you; those who vote differently or worship differently; those who read what you haven’t, eat what you’ve never and been where you dare not go. To embrace them does not mean you become them but, we are enriched by the tension that is created in the gray area of different cultures, religions and beliefs. This tension allows us to polish the rough-hewn edges of our personalities and values to become more accepting, more encompassing and more intimately connected. In the end, fear is a sickness that must be fought from the heart and not the head.