Fear

Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people.

Aerophobia: fear of drafts.

Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple.

Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people.

Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body.

Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body.

Auroraphobia: fear of the northern lights.

Calyprophobia: fear of obscure meanings.

Thalassophobia: fear of being seated.

Stabisbasiphobia: fear of standing and walking.

Odontophobia: fear of teeth.

Graphophobia: fear of writing in public.

Phobophobia: fear of being afraid

Two little kids were in a hospital laying next to each other. The first kid leaned over and asked, “What are you in for?” The second kid said, “I’m in to get my tonsils out and I’m a little nervous.”

The first kid said, “You got nothing to worry about, I had that done to me once. They put you to sleep and when you wake up they give you lots of Jell-O and ice cream. It’s a piece of cake!”

The second kid then asked, “What are you in here for?” The first kid said, “Well, I’m here for a circumcision.”

The second kid said, “Oooh, that’s not good. I had that done when I was born, and I couldn’t walk for a year!”

Fear has a strange way of crippling us. It grips us, often at the most illogical times, and doesn’t let go. It’s curious how repeatedly we sometimes allow the same fear to grip us time after time, even after “conquering” it for what we hoped would be the last time. I heard Michael J. Fox put it well today:

“There is failure, but none of those holes are vacuums”.

A couple of years ago my brothers and I decided it would be a good idea to take my dad skydiving for his birthday. Then we climbed up a few rungs on the “Good Idea Ladder” and decided that this kind of gift was best given as a surprise.

So after an hour and a half of driving without giving him any indication of where we were going, we pulled up to a hanger with a sign on the side that read: “Wild Wind Skydiving”.

All my dad could do in that moment was to utter the word “No” over and over again. We of course giggled like school girls, slapped him on the back, and got out of the car.

We approached the particular hanger that we would be flying out of, and the first thing I saw was a wooden artist’s figurine laying on top of our “Wild Wind” instruction manual. This particular figurine had a heavily taped right arm, and was missing his left leg entirely. Not the most comforting of images to be greeted with before jumping out of a plane, to say the least.

Fear: Conceived

We then met Milovan; a massive, intentionally bald, militant-looking Serbian man who stood towing over us as he smiled and shook our infant hands. “Welcome” he said in a deep, booming accent.”Are you ready for a good time?”

Now, to me, “Are you ready for a good time?”sounded more like something I would find carved on the inside of a bathroom stall at some remote gas station during a road trip across the midwest, but I let it slide.

After we shakingly signed our pile of release forms, it was time for our instruction. Milovan stood inside a crude wooden frame that I assume was meant to simulate the inside of an airplane. “You get inside, thrust forward and then we go. Sound good?” he said blithely.

So to reiterate, the extent of our tutelage was to “Get inside, thrust forward, and go”.

Fear: First trimester

As we are deciding who among us will be the first brave soul to go up in this small plane and jump, I asked Milovan if I could wear the Superman costume that I had brought with me over my dive suit. He laughed and said “You can just wear it AS you suit, friend!” Again, not being a connoisseur of air travel or sky-diving, I assumed those suits actually served some sort of significant purpose, but Milovan assured me that they did not.

So I put on my costume, and walked to the plane only to find Milovan sitting inside with a big grin on his face and a banana in his hand. He then chuckled to himself and slapped his lap, indicating it as my seat for our ascension to the clouds. Not quite the scene I was anticipating.

I climbed in, strapped in, and we began our ascent. With us was the owner of “Wild Wind” and a young lad who was going to experience his first free-fall unattached to an instructor.

The ride up was terrifying. Because it was such a small plane, it bobbed up and down almost constantly, causing one to experience the full range of terror before the dive. What’s more is that it seemed as though the owner had an abnormally potent case of gas.

Fear: Second trimester

When it came time for the rookie to exit the plane, he opened the small door to put his feet on the ledge before falling backwards. His feet slipped however, and he hung by his hands, with a look of utter panic, and shook his head violently to indicate that he no longer wanted to jump. The owner however, simply nodded a creepy and assuring”yes” and pushed this poor fellow out of the plane. He then jumped right after him and I watched as they both quickly turned to dots, and then disappeared all together.

Fear: Third Trimester

Now when the two of them had jumped, the plane bounced up and down like a tugboat in a squall. Everything in me tensed up, and I’m sure I started breathing as if I was in labor. Milovan’s maternal instinct must have kicked in at this point because he then put his mouth right next to my ear and whispered tenderly “Just relax”. Super.

We then scooted to the small opening in this jalopy of an airplane, and just as our wise instructor taught us, I thrusted and then I went. Here is the image of that very moment.

Superman Skydive

Fear: Water break

The free fall was unlike anything I had every experienced. Every second of this event was surreal in the best sense of the word. I was both afraid, and yet somehow completely enthralled. It felt as though every sense was running on all cylinders, and I loved every minute of it.

Milovan then opens the chute and we begin to glide. What he didn’t tell me was that there is a small adjustment phase in the harness when the parachute is opened, and the passenger drops down about four inches in the harness.

Fear: Birthed

Yelling with all the energy I could muster, I began grasping like a mad man to grab hold of anything I could to keep from falling to the earth to my impending doom. Milovan simply bellowed a deep and hearty laugh at my frightened response. He actually continued laughing for quite some time after that, as if he was watching a mouse trying to knock over a whale.

We landed, and despite my previously unheroic response, I was a ball of exhilaration. I think the first thing I said to my family was “Let’s do that again.”

It’s strange how at one moment we can be absolutely terrified of a situation, a circumstance, a decision, or even a person, and in the next we can be chuckling that we ever allowed that situation to scare us so much in the first place. I love what the psalmist says:

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. –Proverbs 3:24

In the Old Testament, sleep was a sign of blessing. When the disciples are caught in that raging storm, Jesus was sleeping. Their fear apparently wasn’t his.

There is a fascinating animal indigenous to Africa called the impala. This remarkable animal can jump up to 10 feet in the air, and over 30 feet out. But if you’ve ever seen an impala in a zoo, you’ll notice that the wall they are using to keep that impala in place is likely to be no more than 3 feet tall. The reason for this is simple -the impala with never jump to a place if it cannot see the ground it will land on.

Aren’t we like that at times? We talk about wanting to take risks, to love without abandon, but more often than not we require assurance that it’s going to turn out the way we want it to before we’ll ever take any action.

How often do we allow the fears in our lives dictate the decisions we make? How often do our past experiences, logical analysis, or our doubt play a bigger factor in how we respond, than the truth we’ve been given time and time again?

There are two quotes that I think examine this idea well.

The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, on the contrary, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else, we are the busiest people in the world. –Eric Hoffer

I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath, these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely, these are my native air.– Dr. E. Stanley Jones

I don’t think our goal is to reject the notion that life is ever scary. That’s not reality. Life is absolutely terrifying at times. What I think should become our task is to eagerly and often tell the stories of the incredible free fall, the stories of overcoming, and of restoration. If we can begin to realize the importance of the victories in our own lives, I have a feeling those instances will have the capacity to inspire and encourage more people than we ever could imagine.

And it is scary, but it is so worth the ride.

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