On a pleasantly warm August evening in 2016, my husband and I took our one year- old grandson in his stroller for a walk in a nearby park. A dog got loose from its owner, raced past me, his leash wrapping around my leg, knocking me to the ground, leaving me unconscious and bleeding. After a night in the hospital, my scalp stitched back together, I was grateful to have come through it as well as I did. But I was left with a fear of dogs. I “therapized” myself, searching for wisdom that might help me overcome this.
“The fears we don’t face become our limits,” was one bit of direction I leaned on.
“You have to remember fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Don’t misunderstand me. Danger is very real but fear is a choice,” was another quote I found. There is some truth in that quote. But I posit that fear is not always a choice.
I think of the story my husband tells of an experience in Vietnam when he was ordered to take a particular village. He deemed it a very poor decision on his superior’s part, that he would almost certainly lose a lot of men with nothing accomplished by their efforts. He initially thought he would act just as soon as he got over his fear. But he quickly came to the conclusion that he was going to have to use his fear to propel him to carry out the order. As one quote I discovered noted, “Sometimes the fear won’t go away, so you’ll have to do it afraid.”
One of the most helpful pieces of wisdom I found was from Dawn Markova:
“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow living to open me, to make me more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed, goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”
Occasionally, I still feel wary when I see a dog. But I choose to not let fear disrupt my peace. We do well when we refuse to acquiesce to fear and instead embrace life.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: One last quote: “What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” Jiddu Krishnamurti