The Fear of the Unknown

I was just sitting and thinking about our upcoming trip to Haiti with the entire family and the fear of the “unknown” that accompanies this trip.  It is funny, we have lived in our house for over a year, we have made countless trips to Haiti, and we have a great support system (both Haitian and American) waiting for us.  There is, however, still a sense of fear that accompanies going down to Haiti with 2 babies under the age of 2.  So thinking about this “fear of the unknown” lead me to search the most common fears in the world.  That search took me to numerous lists all with different fears and different orders, but I am going to copy and paste one of those lists to this blog just so you can see what the “Top 10 Fears” are right now in the world.  So here it is:

  1. Loneliness
  2. Death
  3. Public Speaking
  4. Heights
  5. Snakes
  6. Flying
  7. Spiders
  8. Closed Spaces (Claustrophobia)
  9. Dogs
  10. Open Spaces (Agoraphobia)

These fears are not exhaustive, and there are probably some fears that deserve to be in the top 10 that are not, but it does kind of show you what people generally fear.  I also wonder if this list included asking anyone who lives in a developing country (they comprise well over half of the population).  The reason I am writing this is because fear is such a common aspect of our lives, but one that is very misunderstood and very rarely discussed.  I have heard pastors say things like, “Fear is a lack of trust in GOD” to define the word and they are probably right.  But the knowledge that fear is a lack of trust in GOD does not really help the fear that I feel of taking my family back down to Haiti.  

As I look over the list, I really do not have any of the fears listed.  I mean, I don’t really want to be shut up in a small space, be surrounded by poisonous snakes, or die any time soon but these things do not weigh on my mind.  I do remember on one particular flight back from Haiti that I had the window seat so I left the window open for the whole flight.  However, being really tired from my time in Haiti, I kept falling asleep with my face against the window.  So, every time I would wake up for any reason, I saw nothing by blue sky and clouds below me, and I kept freaking out over and over again thinking I was falling through the sky.  For whatever reason, I did not close the window, so probably 5-7 times that flight, I kept thinking I was falling out of the plane.  That, however, is not a real fear either, just the laziness of not wanting to close the window.  But the new fear I have is thinking about what could happen on our trip to Haiti with a 6 month old and a 20 month old in tow.  Here are 5 things that have run through my mind:

  • Malaria…really any mosquito born illness.
  • Overheating.  This is based on what happened when we brought Sophie down the first time.
  • Changing Elijah’s life completely and how he will deal with it.
  • Kidnapping.
  • That 2 babies will be too difficult in a 3rd world country.

You may be wondering why I am writing this.  Do I want sympathy, am I trying to get it off of my chest, or did I just run out of things to blog about?  The truth is simple, we all have fears.  All of us are scared of something and some of us are debilitated by our fears while others of us have a higher capacity to deal with them.  If Jess were writing this blog, it would probably be a much different blog with a much different tone.  Jess is dealing with her fears by planning everything, buying all of the food we could possibly need, and making sure that we are completely supplied with everything that we (and probably another family our size) could possibly need.  I am dealing with my fears by pretty much doing the same thing I always do and just being nervous about the change (which is probably frustrating for those around me).  I am writing this blog to encourage all of us (including myself) that GOD is greater than our fears.  That does not mean that GOD will protect us from our fears all of the time, but it does mean that GOD is greater than anything that could ever happen to us and that is how we should live.  We are nervous (really scared, but nervous sounds better) about taking our babies down to Haiti, but we are taking our babies down to Haiti.  So, here are some questions we may want to ask ourselves to help us know “fear’s” place in our lives:

What are you scared of?

Are you allowing fear to win and to change your life?

What can you do to turn your fear over to GOD?

As followers of Christ, we all have the desire and the capacity to do great things, but very few of us ever do.  Too many of us sit in the corner and allow whatever fear we have to control who we are and what we do.  I have that tendency in many ways and I am sure that many of you do as well.  In fact, many of us have fears that we probably did not even know that we have.  So, just in case you were hoping for another list in this blog, here are the top 5 unknown fears as developed by Matt Bush:

  1. The fear of not having enough money (so I borrow).
  2. The fear that other people may be having more fun than I am (so I post a lot of things to Facebook).
  3. The fear that my kids may not be the best at everything (so I build them up and make them the center of my universe at the expense of everything else).
  4. The fear that I am not good enough (so I do whatever I can to make other people think I am better than I am at the expense of my health and the truth).
  5. The fear of the unknown (so I either try and plan everything down to the minute detail and never leave any room for anything else to happen, or I just do the same thing every single day of my life). 

Our commitment has to be that we will live for GOD no matter what, and that we will turn our fear over to GOD no matter what.  The first step, however, is to figure out which fear is taking our focus off of our Savior and driving us away from the great things that we are supposed to accomplish for GOD.

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