Imprisoned by fear

Many of us have been at one time or another been imprisoned by our fears.  Any time we allow a fear to hold us back and keep us away from becoming we allow fear to imprison us.  Whether it be an irrational fear, those fears that run rampant in our minds that keep us from moving forward, or an actual fear, like the fear of being abused by others, it will restrain us and hold us back.  Anytime we choose to not challenge that which we fear we are placed into a bondage that is very difficult to overcome.  I have had many such fears in my life.  We all have.  Anyone who has not had to face fear needs to check their pulse.  Fear is part of life.

Fear starts as a protection.  We see danger, imagined or otherwise, and fear rises as a defense mechanism designed to keep us from harm.  However if we allow that fear to overcome us we can never truly live.  And yet much of what we fear actually cannot harm us.  The harm is only perceived.  A fear of failure comes as a result of criticism and never having felt like you are able to successfully accomplish anything.  It brings with it a feeling of worthlessness and will keep you in bondage and you never try new things because of your fear.  And yet failure cannot harm us.   The danger is only in our minds and yet it seems so overpowering. 

Brendan Francis said “Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them. ”  It only seems that what we fear is actually as difficult to overcome as it feels.  Fear can be overcome, and some people have learned to overcome their fears and they are the people who we admire through history.  “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”  ~Andre Gide

If we can learn to see our fears as an opportunity instead of a barrier we can get past them.  But it takes a decision to begin to move on, the support of someone who cares for us, and the courage to push forward.  Our fears are not as big as they seem.  “Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small.”  ~Ruth Gendler.  But it is up to us to determine to overcome.  If we choose to see our fears as to great to overcome then they will continue to keep us bound up and unable to grow.  “If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all thinking, damages his personality and makes him a landlord to a ghost.” ~Lloyd Douglas.

We can accomplish great things if we can overcome our fears.  “Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile… initially scared me to death.” ~Betty Bender.  That which we dream about doing, and the things we have strong desires to do all can be realized if we can overcome our fears.  Fear is part of life, but doesn’t have to keep us from our dreams.  You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith”  ~Mary Manin Morrissey. 

There is a promise of peace that we can have that can allow us to overcome our fears.  God promises us freedom from the bondage of fear.  If we will accept His offer and begin to face our fears we can overcome them and live freer lives.

Bitter or Better. You decide

Life brings many different types of circumstance our way.  Someone once said  “The problem with life is it happens, daily.”   And we react to those circumstances in many ways depending on if we deem them to be good or bad.  Often we react to bad situations in a negative manner, and this usually results in more negative circumstances.  But even the good circumstances can be reacted to improperly.  The new job promotion can make us proud and haughty, like  we are now someone more important than others.  The same can happen with all our success.  How we react to our situation is what is important.  It is more important than what happens around us.

“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.”- John Ruskin

The recognition for a job well done is not as important as what happens in us.  If we handle our circumstances improperly we will never become the person we could be.  Like the army slogan “be all you can be”  If we are to be the best that we can be how we respond to the circumstances that happen around us is critical.  If we consistently respond poorly we will never grow.  And our personal growth is really what is important.   If we aren’t growing and developing then we can never better ourselves and we will always remain selfish and ignorant.  It is often how we respond to the situations in our lives.  We determine what should be happening to us, by our own standards, and then either get upset that what should be happening isn’t or get proud because we are finally getting what we deserve.  How we develop and grow is determined by our responses to our circumstance.

Someone once said ‘It is not what happens to us that is important.  What happens in us is what is important.”  Only we can decide to either grow or remain the person we are now.  Only we can decide how we handle our circumstances.  It is not the fault of our circumstance, nor is it the fault of anyone else that we are the person we are today.  To often the way we grew up, or the way our parents treated us, or the school we went to, or the friends we had are blamed for the life we live.  An alcoholic father would say to his kids “If only you were better behaved I wouldn’t be drinking.” or the addict blaming his habit on being abused as a child.  And yet the same circumstance can happen to two different people and one will rise above the situation and become better and the other will choose to remain and become even more bitter.

It is not what happens to us that is important.  We can determine how to handle ourselves.  It is the only thing we actually have control over in our lives.  The sense of control we fight for is an illusion.  We can control nothing that happens around us.  We can only control what happens in us.  We can choose to see the bright side of life, the glass half full, or the negative, the glass half empty.  It is our choice.  The great people we admire and look up to all rose above their circumstance to become better people and achieved fulfillment in their lives.  It really is up to us.  No one can make us become better.  The question really becomes then will we become better, or will we become bitter.

delaying our destiny

How much of our daily lives is spent wishing and dreaming about what will be?  And how much is spent actually working to achieve those ideas.  How much is just wishful thinking, or looking at someone elses success and saying “it must be nice.”  We all have some sort of desire to achieve and excel, and yet very few people actually seem to get any where.  We all cannot be the leaders of fortune five hundred companies, or presidents of our countries, but we all have dreams of what could be.

And yet how many of us have sat down and began to write out and focus our lives on those dreams?  If we have never put any thought into what we want to become we simply spin our lives in circles and sit in frustration because we never seem to get anywhere in life.  We never seem to get past the hurdles and our lives simply run their course focused on little and accomplishing nothing.  What will your contribution be to the society around you?  And what will you be remembered for?  Two questions that have begun to haunt my thoughts as of late. 

Solomon, the wisest person to ever live, wrote that where there is no vision people perish. 

Helen Keller, a women who was both blind and deaf and overcame both to receive a bachelor of art degree, and become a famous political activist and author said “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”

There are very few people who have taken the time to focus their lives on a single vision, and then spend their lives working towards that vision, constantly adjusting themselves to ensure they remain on course and we remember them because of the impact they made in our lives and society.  People like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King to name just a couple.  And yet there are many more who’s contributions, although not as great, have been just as significant.  There may be a local social worker who has changed the lives of young people, or a teacher in high school that spent their time pulling the best part of us out so the world could see.  Not all contributions become famous, but every contribution is noticed.  Billy Graham, the most famous evangelist of our time, was changed forever by an unknown man who never became famous, but whose contribution will always be remembered, at least by Billy, Mordecai Ham.

But we must choose to focus our lives today on the vision we have of tomorrow.  It’s a mistake to daydream about “One day when you’ll be on top” instead of handling today so that it prepares you for tomorrow.  John Wooden, a hall of fame basketball coach, said “When opportunity knocks it is too late to prepare.”   We Delay our Destiny when we choose not to focus on what is important, and spend our time chasing fantasies, or fun.  Achieving our destiny involves focus and discipline.  Two things we dislike.  We must focus our lives on our vision, and then discipline ourselves to daily achieve what needs to be done so that one day we will be  who we thought we could be.  The leaders of the fortune five hundred companies did not get there overnight, and it wasn’t a surprise that plopped into their lap.  It was something they focused on and persevered toward until finally they attained their goal.

Much of our lives is spent in fruitless activity, spent wasting away and then after many years we wonder why we have never accomplished anything.  Today is the day where we can begin to focus ourselves and begin to attain the destiny we were all created to achieve.  It can begin today if we choose to focus ourselves and determine where we want to go, and then begin to follow that map and discipline ourselves to stay on course.  Then one day we can look back and actually see what we accomplished and not what we wasted.