Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, spoke the classic line, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”. Now I understand that over the years this line that marked the beginning of a new era for America has become, at best, another cliché, but the truth embedded in this famous line is astounding. The following is a blog that may have some biblical undertone in nature. But I assure you, the information should be relevant regardless of your religious or spiritual affiliation.
In the Christian Community FAITH is typically defined as the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. The problem that occurs when trying to wrap our minds about faith, as it relates to the above definition, is that it requires having hope in something tangible that can change unfavorable situations into favorable situations, and believing that you have those tangible things that will change your situation, before you actually have them. Our ability to produce the necessary faith often times takes intentional practice and occurs over a period of time. If we were going to look at faith like a formula it would probably look something like this:
FAITH= Unseen Evidence + Belief + intentional action.
Well when we look at FEAR, one of the more popular definitions that has surfaced is False Evidence Appearing Real; and let’s be honest, fear has factored into our lives at some point (and I know for me still exist) and in some specific areas. From the Boogie Man, report card day, rejection to more serious issues, fear has impacted, either directly or indirectly, in some way, shape, or form. If we structured a formula of fear it may look something like this:
FEAR= Evidence + Unfounded Belief + intentional action.
As you see both of our definitions share very similar components; the line between what is faith and what is fear is actually very thin and it really depends on what the individual believes is real enough to focus on. Let’s look at these similar components a little closer.
Evidence– Evidence is that which tends to prove or disprove something; it’s a ground for belief or serves as proof. Evidence has many forms that deal in facts such as, but not limited to, testimony of others, written documentation, actual objects. For faith, the evidence and the things we hope for exist before you see it. So for example, many people believe in a God that they have never seen. They accept the written documentation about God, the testimony of others, and sometimes their own experience of what they deemed as God working in their life. For fear, there is tangible evidence that we have mixed with our preconceived ideas, testimony of others, or lack of understanding that leads us to assumed facts…but not actual truth. For example if you were ever afraid of the Boogie Man your tangible evidence was more than likely darkness, other people talking about stuff that could get you at night (i.e. bed bugs) that made you think that if bed bugs can bite me at night than surely other things can get me too; and night lights didn’t always help because they often magnified objects that were already present in the room to cast these shadows that in the middle of the night just “had to be something else”. It is imperative to examine all the evidence presented very closely so that you can better decide what should be stored as truth and what is really just folly.
Belief– Belief is confidence; trust. We believe a lot of things and the more we believe in something, the more likely we are to act according to those beliefs. We believe that when someone hires us to do work and they say that they are going to pay us on a certain day, we start working and keep coming to work, believing that on that certain day we will be paid. Or when the weather person says that based on their training and experience that they see rain in the forecast, what do we do? Exactly! We grab an umbrella. Even if it is sunny outside, or hasn’t rained in forever, if the weather person says 20% chance…you will be prepared. If you add your unfounded belief to unexamined evidence it will tend to lead you into taking inappropriate actions.
Intentional Action– This is the part that really challenges all of us. Intentional action is what will guide us into a reinforcement of our faith or a reinforcement of our fear. Intentional actions are always based on the examination, or lack thereof, of the evidence and how that evidence is supported or challenged by your own belief system. Let’s take the fear of rejection as an example. You can believe all day long that you have a winning personality and that your personality will attract others…but if you never take the time to talk to people (lack of intentional action) then your lack of results in attracting others will reinforce this unhealthy fear of rejection. On the other hand if you believe that you are meant to be in a relationship, you take intentional actions to work on yourself, become the best person that you can be, makes moves that enhance who you are, then as you live your life not focusing on meeting that “special someone”, when that person dies comes along you will feel comfortable about taking those next steps with them. It becomes less about a fear in rejection and more about having faith that the person(s) you meet will compliment the person you are becoming.
At the end of the day the strength of what you fear and what you have faith for is truly based on the kind of evidence presented, your belief of what that evidence mean or means to you, plus the intentional actions you take based on your understanding. The good news is, you get to decide which path take and for how long.
So tell me, when you think about all the things you are afraid of, is that FEAR warranted or is it just an absence of intentional actions based on your belief of the presented evidence?