Feeling Big or Living Large

Why do we not confront our fears? Sometimes it’s not because we feel too small. More often, it’s because we feel too big.

We pitch our tents and set up our lives far, far away from what we’re afraid of. We do this because of how big we want to feel. We don’t want to feel like someone who gets scared. I don’t.

Facing the fear means leaving the tent, walking over to where the fear is, and staring at it directly. To do only this much is scary, because I know where this will lead. I will discover that the worst-case scenario I have been dreading is, in fact, survivable. I will discover that what I have really been afraid of is that I might be embarrassed, or seem foolish, or fail, or have it publicly revealed that my heart has something tender and personal within it. I am scared to find out how tiny the things are that scare me.

Seeing this fills in some of the meaning of the line near the beginning of Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (v. 1:7). If a fear directs your choice, then you are subservient to that fear. Your experience and the scope of your awareness are limited by what that fear says. God will not hold you back this way. God, unlike other objects of fear, is not a bully who will play upon the awe we feel when at last we take him seriously.

Allow this awe, this awareness of the power and presence of God, to stand in the place of fearing small things. This is the way to live large instead of feeling big. To be great, place what is greatest at the head of your fears.