Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Duck and cover

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
            A movie is coming out this week called “In The Dark,” which taps into some primal fear about the dark. Has a ghost or some dang thing. I’d no more go to that movie than I’d rob First National Bank of wherever in broad daylight with a police convention across the street and my business cards tucked in every nook and cranny in the bank (with photos).
            It's not that I'm scared of the dark. I'm, er, cautious.  I remember the first night my mother and I spent in the house that would turn out to be the one I lived in longer than any other. It was in the country outside of Meridian, Miss. I was eight.
            As the night wound down to midnight, I was up for some reason. I was in the kitchen, with the lights out, and I turned and saw the door knob turning. TURNINNGGGGGGG.
            I woke my mother, and her advice was to look out the window (in her bedroom that looked out on the back porch) to see what (or who) that might be.
            I thought about that long and hard. A good second, perhaps, led me to action. I crawled into her bed, pulled the covers over my head and lived into Day 2 at the house.
            In the dark is not where I want to be, or to see, or even to think about.
I'm also not fond of heights or looking out of windows just in case someone (or someTHING) is looking in. But I've never seen the likes of what we're seeing today. Fear is as thick as country cut bacon. It’s hard not to be fearful these days. What with ambushes and such on police, and umpteen hate groups active in this country, and that’s not even to talk about ISIL or ISIS or you name it, hatred's kissing cousin, fear, is spreading like wild fire in a pasture.
            What’s next is not a question we really want to ask, for what’s next can only lead to what’s next and we don’t necessarily need or want to see how that comes out. The unknown sometimes is better than the known. Heck, if I didn't see it I might even convince myself that it didn't happen -- hence, not watching either of the conventions.
            But this I know: Fear is the opposite of faith, not doubt. Fear, a big ol' tub of I don't know. Fear of cyber attacks, and terrorism, and bio-attack, and on and on they go.
            Fear is our companion. Has been since, well, since Cain walloped Abel.
            Remember these things:
            In 1950, an animated turtle named Bert taught American children to “duck and cover” in case of atomic attack. Bert taught us to be ready in an instant. Ironically, we would have been toasty if it actually happened and all the duck and cover in the world wouldn’t have worked.
            Or do you remember those incredibly scary recordings that were designed for us to watch. Recordings that showed the aftermath of teens driving drunk. Normally when I was in a darkened room in school, I went to sleep so quick the teacher didn't even finish introducing the recording. But I stayed awake for those darn things. Oh, my, goodness they were horrific. Duck and cover, indeed.
            Fear has been our companion on lonely, dark nights. Dark nights of the soul. Dark nights where spreads the worst of humanity. Dark nights where the fear ran with the blood shed. Fear. Always. We face fear when we contemplate change, we face fear when the change is not at all what we thought it would be, and we face fear when those who might help us through the change are those we fear the most. Duck and cover.
            But we don't have to be fearful. Practice taking the next step, and then the next. Don't rush yourself, but do push yourself. Once you find yourself able to handle the first rung on your fear ladder with less anxiety, move to the next one. Once you begin to get comfortable with facing your fears, don't stop.
            Try using these five steps to fight the fear.
1. Get comfortable with fear.
            Invite fear into your life. When you fear something, move toward it.  Feel it, and breathe through it. Do the things that frighten you. Action builds courage. Tell yourself, “This fear will pass.” Your world expands as your courage expands.
2. Make your dominant thoughts positive.
            Fearful thoughts attract more fear. Positive thoughts attract success. Instead of expecting the worst, train your mind to expect the best. Make positive assumptions about your future.
3. Don’t give time, attention, or energy to fear.
            Hold yourself accountable. Be consistent, be prepared, be dependable, and focus on solutions. Be innovative, take the initiative, and go the extra mile. If you don’t take action despite your fear, opportunity will pass you by.
4. Never dwell on scarcity.
            Learn to think, speak, and live as an abundant person. Turn off the news. Celebrate what you have. Be generous. Focus your attention on being ready, willing, and prepared for the beauty, wonder, connections, good fortune, and favorable circumstances that are yours if you are willing to work and be open to it.
5. Revisit your victories.
            Strengthen your belief in yourself by reflecting on the last three years of your life and every success you’ve experienced.            Close your eyes and feel the celebratory emotion of each one. Bring the same drive, persistence, and talent into now and allow it to inspire and motivate you.
            And most of all, turn to Jesus in the darkest moments.
            The Bible says about fear,  “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
            Fear has been our companion, but as hatred starts to dig in its heels and refuses to be hauled away, maybe it’s time we throw out fear as well.
            Love is the answer, the key, the principal. I hope we don't forget this. And how to duck and cover.

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