A bunch of scaredy-cats

26 Mar

What are you afraid of?  Yes, you are. You are afraid of something, likely several things. Further, those fears are controlling you; they drive your behavior, they influence your choices and affect your reactions.

Are you afraid of being alone when you are older?  Do you fear losing your job? How about losing your reputation? Are you afraid of what people might think of you (whatever that means)?  Do you fear not being able to keep up with the Jones (or appearing so)? Do you fear people knowing about your finances? Are you afraid of disappointing a parent? A mentor or superior? How about being afraid of appearing weak, or incapable? Are you afraid of failing?

How about this one: Are you afraid of having people know that you are afraid? POW!

In my Thursday morning Lifegroup at my church (which takes the form of nine guys using the excuse of discussing a book to come together, let our guard down a bit, and explore living a faith-filled and spiritual life) someone inevitably brings up some contemporary matter — political, social — that seems impossible or insurmountable.

Throughout these various discussions, I am not sure there has been very much light shed over time except this glimmer, if not revelation, to me: people too often choose and decide, act and don’t act, based on fears. No one wants any sort of  change — or wants to change back to the way things were — or doesn’t wants to try something new — because they are afraid of something or the other.

I supposed that makes sense on many levels. Fear can relate to real threats that can negatively affect us or others we care about. Enough said. We can figure that one out.

Until one thinks of a mouse, fearful of a cat, ultimately running into a corner to hide, only to be . . . cornered by exactly what it feared.  That analysis of mouse behavior may be flawed. However I use that analogy to make a point:

Acting based on fears is ultimately limiting, leads to imperfect pseudo-solutions, and often just postpones some inevitable end. It certainly doesn’t seem to lead to bigger, better, breakthrough outcomes and changes.

What’s the alternative? Well, let me at least talk about those of us who are Christian, though I think this perspective might pertain to anyone, and particularly anyone who follows some faith or spiritual tradition.

The alternative is acting Courageously.  Acting out of Hope. Acting out of a Vision. Acting with a sense of Unlimited Possibility, rather than acting out of choking, constraining, cornering fears. The alternative is acting out of a vision of success and improvement and more, rather than of failure and ridicule and stagnancy.

What if we all chose, decided, and acted in ways that weren’t so concerned about protecting ourselves, our institutions, our reputation, or whatever we  deem too important to risk, and instead acted in ways that pursued greater things, not purely for us, but for others, for those most needing it, for the world/creation?

I attended a friend-acquaintance’s funeral yesterday. I had the good fortune of serving in our Cloquet Rotary Club alongside Denny Randelin, working on youth scholarship and youth leadership development oriented committees.

I view the life Denny lived as a life of possibility. He had a passion, in particular, for helping protect, encourage and develop youth. He moved on having left some legacies that were marked by his desire, his vision, for better things for others. Most notable (and I borrow liberally from Pastor Morriem’s comments here) is that Denny pursued these things despite his actions sometimes causing others to not regard him as well as they might otherwise.

When he was a police officer, parents who were not serving their children well might not think well of him if he had to remove children from the home. I imagine some wished upon him quite bad things. While serving in Rotary, Denny could be vocal, even stubborn, to get what he wanted, which ultimately was the benefit of the community and the youth about which he cared deeply.

Denny wasn’t afraid to push for more, for better. He pushed for new, for creating, for improving. He did not necessarily act to protect what is now or avoid what might be.  He didn’t care so much about what people thought about him as about what they did: not what they did to him, but what they did to help push this great big ball of humanity forward, rather than let it sit in inertia.

Denny was a big guy, who could have big opinions and a big voice, but always a big heart (Thank you, Pastor Morreim, for that.) I will miss Denny, and mourn the lost opportunity I had to get to know him better. What I can take away from knowing Denny as I did — and as I didn’t, but only learned after his passing — is that I can and should do more, and  pursue it more boldly, without fear, but with vision of the good that can come. Thank you for that vision, Denny.

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