Becky and I, like much of America, have been watching Stranger Things on Netflix. We love it. We love the story, the depth of the characters, the cast, the music, the opening credits and the nods to other movies and shows we love. As the boys and Eleven made their way down a train track and the camera panned up from between the metal tracks to focus on the troupe, Becky and I turned to each other and said, “Stand By Me.”
I have to tell you, though, that it is also causing me stress. I don’t deal well with a few things that this show has tons of. First, I don’t deal well with fear. When Nancy gets to the Upside Down through the tree, I nearly gnawed a hole in the knuckle of my right index finger. Just before that, during the deer scene, I jumped about a mile and may have said a less formal version of “Devine Excrement!” Second, I don’t deal well with kids having to grow up too fast and/or suffer. I am a champion for letting kids retain their innocence for as long as possible. As Eleven’s past unfolds through flashbacks, I find myself near to tears and bursting with rage at the same time. When Mike is willing to sacrifice himself for Dustin at the quarry’s edge, I am overwhelmed and inspired but also bristling with indignation at what bullying leads to. Mostly, though, I sit on the edge of my seat, eagerly awaiting what will come next but also wracked with fear and dread at what it might be.
I’m going to be super, uncomfortably (for me) vulnerable for a second. Fear is a pretty big deal for me. I have a lot of pretty extreme fears that I fight constantly with varying degrees of success.
I’m terrified of talking to people I don’t know. I don’t even like making pizza orders on the phone. The root of the fear is some sort of fear of being judged and I am fully aware of how irrational it is. Yet, there it is. Becky knows this fear in me, and most of the time, she shows me grace and handles a lot of stranger interactions for me. Sometimes, she is an encourager and pushes me out of my comfort zone to have the conversations myself…even though it doesn’t always feel encouraging in the moment. It’s funny that I have had several jobs in a row where talking to people I don’t know is critical for success. I screw up my nerves every day at work and get it done. The problem is that it often leaves me drained of the energy to continue fighting my fear after work.
It’s not a phobia-level, but I have a certain fear of the dark. I don’t like not knowing what is at the extremes of the space I occupy. I rarely turn lights on at home, but my eyes are pretty good in the dark and don’t require much light. That said, if I am in a room where there isn’t enough light to see the extent of the room, my pulse will accelerate and my adrenaline will kick up some. Last night, after watching three episodes of Stranger Things, I made my way through my in-laws’ pitch black living room with fists clenched.
Like the dark, I have a mild fear of heights. I try my best to overcome this fear whenever possible. I often head into the catwalk at church to test myself (and to get cool unique angles for pictures of our services). Sometimes, while I’m up there, I’ll start to feel overwhelmed and have to escape quickly. Most recently, this happened when I was escorting an out-of-town guest, Casey Fulgenzi, through the catwalk to get pictures of The Calendar Years (featuring his wife, Lindsey). I just split, got to solid footing, caught my breath and went back out to show Casey how to get back.
There are other fears, too, that I don’t really want to write about right now.
Ariella is irrationally afraid of a lot of things: loud sounds, small waves, heights, going fast, etc. Sometimes, I get really upset with her for being irrationally afraid. More than once, Becky has had to tell me to cool down. I love Ariella more than words can even describe, and I don’t want her to have to think about fear as she moves through the day like I do. I want her to be free to experience God’s creation in an adventurous, wild way. In the moment, I’m sometimes so concerned with managing my fear that I don’t realize I’ve had fun or been awed until later.
As for me, I will continue to face my fears when I can and ask for the help of my friends and family when I feel like I cannot.
Do you have fears that interfere with your joy?
“Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.” – Dune
“Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.” – Charles Stanley
“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement and acceptance…all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18