I’m afraid of the dark. I went to an exclusive college for girls in Manila for my elementary and high school education. I was in grade 2 when I lined up at the principal’s office to explain why I was late. And the effect is still the same. Holding a slip of paper, I was shooed into a dark room and there I stayed for 30 minutes alone. That continued for two more years and the trauma took a toll on me. I still don’t want to stay in the dark.
Mary (not her real name) is a deaf friend. She’s still afraid to stay long outside her house for fear that “bad people” would do her harm. She was in her 20s when she got raped. Now past her golden years, she still feels people want to kill her.
Mich is another deaf friend. She’s afraid of getting old. She cringes at the thought that in three more years she’ll be 30 years old. She feels that soon she will be really old.
A former colleague at work is a big guy. He was in his mid-20s but he was already boss in his department. Affluent and full of confidence, he was eager to attend our company adventure camp. One event was to climb a 25-foot-pole with just a body harness to hold us. On top of the pole, we were told to jump and touch a rope three meters away. He climbed the pole quickly but in the middle of the climb, his legs shook and he couldn’t go on. Despite our encouragement, his face filled with panic as he looked down at us. He didn’t make it through the game.
My fear of the dark is called nyctophobia and Mary’s fear of going outdoors is agoraphobia.
Gerontophobia is Michelle’s fear of old people or of growing old while my big friend’s fear of heights is called acrophobia.
Everybody’s got some kind of phobia, big or small, minor or major, open or hidden.
Even the great people in the Bible were seized with fear at one time or another. Fear struck St. Peter when he realized he was actually walking on water. Hydrophobia? After Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he hid himself in fear.
I think it was a loss of faith for St. Peter not hydrophobia or fear of the water. He was a fisherman, remember?
It was pride that affected Adam not gymnophobia or the fear of appearing naked.
Phobias exist in all of us but it should not be our reason for showing fear and worse, living in fear. God didn’t create us with fear but out of love.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Abraham believed this. He didn’t fear killing his only son Isaac when God ordered him to do so. Job plowed through his physical, emotional, social and financial crisis and didn’t fear death or poverty because he believed in God’s love. David didn’t fear the wrath of King Saul who wanted him dead. Instead, he stopped short of killing the king when he clearly could have done it. It’s because he honored God whom he knew anointed King Saul.
If we believe God’s word, we can face fear squarely in the eye and not be slaves of it. It’s not we will not have fear. But we control fear.
I once read about the difference between courage and bravery. “Bravery is not being scared. Courage is having fear and not letting it affect what you do.”
People of faith are courageous. They stand up against any fear. People who believe so much in themselves and their abilities only know of bravery.
So are you courageous or brave?
Today, I admit I am still scared of the dark. But I can handle it because I believe in Psalm 23: “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing… Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Mary still has nyctophobia but she can control it now by trusting God’s promise to protect her in Hebrews 13:5-6: “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So say with confidence ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
And for Mich, she’s still anxious about reaching 30 but she holds on to God’s word to the prophet Isaiah: “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
We can’t erase phobias from our life but we can be courageous to stand up against them. With God’s grace.