I married into a family of mental health therapists. My wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law practice counseling. As some of our friends like to point out, our conversations tend to gravitate towards boundaries, guided images, breathing techniques, and Table Topics games.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) has become a frequent discussion topic. This type of therapy uses eye movement to reprocess memories in the brain. For example, a counselor will rhythmically use their fingers or machine for your eyes to focus and your mind will begin to reprocess for healing.
My niece picked up on the conversation about EMDR. I sat at the dinner table, and she approached me waving her fingers back in front of my face. The young aspiring therapist turned to me and asked the question, “What are you scared of?”
I had the decision of humor or authenticity. In thinking of the altruistic teachable moment, I thought I would answer authentically, “I’m scared of failure, not measuring up, and letting people down…”
She paused the waiving of her fingers and looked me in the eye, “Uncle Peter, that’s boring!”
Let’s just say, my niece still needs training in empathetic listening before starting a practice. My fear of leeches was a little more entertaining.
Whenever I think of fear, I remember this conversation. The older we get, the more fear follows us. Perhaps, we realize how much we have to lose, or we have never dealt with fears that we have carried our whole lives.
Rather than realizing and identifying our fear, we can fall into trap of reacting to it:
Don’t take the risk.
Dig your heels into the ground instead of change.
Never ask for the feedback from others.
Remain silent about an idea.
Mark 6:45-52 tells the story of the disciples in the midst of the storm. Strangely, Jesus in this passage sends them to boat knowing the storm would come. What happens? The disciples get tossed in a storm. To their surprise, Jesus comes walking on water. Again, fear debilitates them from experiencing this miracle.
The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles and just a few verses prior He had fed the 5,000. That sounds a little bit like us. Instead of our faith growing in Christ working in our lives from the past, we fall into the pattern of fear of the present and the future.
Jesus calms the storm, but I think even, more importantly, He gets into the boat. He does not just perform the miracle and walk away. In His humanity, he steps into the boat with the disciples. This episode becomes a teachable moment of faith. Just like the disciples we need the constant reminder that; Christ in us is greater than any fear we face.
Paul David Tripp makes an implication to this passage saying, “Jesus will take you places you did not choose to go so that He can produce in you what you could never achieve on your own.”
Fear ultimately stalls us from growing. Letting the fears like failing, unknown, imperfection, not measuring up, change, and intimacy hinders us. So God graciously brings us into the storm to remind us of His presence in our lives over our fears.
I think my niece might be on to something too. Our fears can be boring keeping us from the adventure God has called to experience.
What fears are you facing today? How has God called you to face these fears?
Photo credit by Tim Marshall.