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Beyond Fear: Growing Into Faith

Author(s): Jennifer Minney

ISBN13: 9780953844654

ISBN10: 095384465X


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  • Jennifer Minney

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  • Extract from Chapter 1:

    Definition of Fear

    The word fear derives from the Old English faer, which is the feeling evoked by sudden calamity or danger. Nowadays, the word is used to cover a range of emotions, like apprehension, nervousness, terror, dread.... But, in its true sense, fear is an appropriate and helpful response to an alarming person or situation. This is in contrast to anxiety, which comes from the Latin anxietum, meaning troubled in mind about some uncertain event. Since anxiety does not have a specific object it tends to be chronic and ineffectual, and for this reason is not generally classed as normal. Other abnormal fears include timidity, which is a tendency to be easily frightened; phobia, which is excessive fear of a specific stimulus; and panic, which is uncontrollable fear.

    Whether the emotion felt is a mild sense of misgiving or abject terror, fear can be described as normal and healthy when it is a reaction to any kind of threat or danger, when the feeling is in proportion to the perceived menace, and when the fear triggers just enough stress to either deal with the situation or run from it. For instance, the surge of adrenalin caused by fear can give us the speed necessary to escape a would-be mugger, avoid an oncoming car or run from a flood or avalanche. Similarly, the nervousness felt before giving a speech or taking part in a race can enhance performance, and a small amount of trepidation enables us to cope better with adverse circumstances, like taking exams or facing painful treatment or surgery. But excessive or inappropriate fear gets in the way, hindering our ability to cope - as does too little fear. People who cannot feel fear never learn to avoid danger, so they keep getting hurt. And when they go so far as to deny these normal fears that we are born with, they also hinder the development of a healthy, instinctive knowledge of danger.

    And from Chapter 5:

    Hold on to trust

    It is human to fear, and there are times when it is wise to be afraid. But because, nowadays, there is so much exposure to frightening and threatening situations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to develop and hold on to faith. Ultimately, all fear - whether it takes the form of anxiety, timidity, phobia or panic - is fear of the unknown. It follows, then, that increased knowledge will result in a reduction of fear. This includes knowledge of fear itself, its signs and symptoms, causes and effects, and knowledge of how fear can be managed.

    However, in order to truly grow beyond fear, factual knowledge is not enough. You need to know, or be acquainted with, yourself, other people and God; and through that knowledge learn to esteem and trust the beautiful and good. Only then will you have a deep, inner sense of safety and calm, which is the antithesis of fear, even when you are confronted with the many things in life that are too big to grasp and understand. Faith is not founded on nothing; it is based on the knowledge that someone is there, within us, around us, at our side, to hold and comfort us, keeping us safe. Faith is the assurance that, however alarming things seem, it will be alright.

    Coping skills can be learned fairly quickly. But growth, in any area, is a life-long process. You can begin now by removing the hindrances to psychological and spiritual development and stepping out, beyond fear, into the light and life of faith.

Beyond Fear: Growing Into Faith