After a brief health and safety lesson we were all too quickly harnessed up and fitted with helmets. As we approached the first tree I looked up to see a very long rope ladder. Being seen as the ‘responsible adult’ in the party, a supervisor took me to one side and said, “It might be a good idea if you go in the middle.”
I turned to him and said very loudly in front of my daughter’s friend, “You’re joking, aren’t you? Up there it’s every man for himself!”
We are all fearful of something. It can make us feel nauseous and anxious or, worse still, traumatise us. So what is fear?
From the day we are born our brain cleverly learns emotions and holds memories that help us to remember and respond to scary and dangerous things. It reminds us of the consequences of doing something foolhardy, such as, for example, climbing tall pine trees in Thetford Forest. It is as Gavin de Becker describes in his book The Gift of Fear, “a brilliant internal guardian that warns you of hazards and guides you through risky situations”.
In the UK, as with the rest of Western society, we have an overabundance of fear compared to Eastern countries. An estimated 3.6 per cent of the UK – around 2.2million people – suffer from anxiety disorders, which is a four-fold increase in four years.
These fears can range from common trepidations, such as heights or enclosed spaces, to severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Either way, they can prevent the enjoyment of life.
So if fear is something that is learned, probably the best way is to deal with it is to unlearn it and fill the void with something positive and life-enriching. But one thing is for certain, it can’t be dealt with a bottle of pills. Neither can a life be free of emotions. Otherwise, we would become psychopathic!
The Bible is an incredibly practical book and offers some amazing wisdom and insight on the emotional and spiritual condition. It gives us a holistic approach to wellbeing through a connectedness with God through his son Jesus.
When we learn to put our trust in him and surrender each part of our life, including our emotions and memories, we create a mental space to receive God’s healing which leads to our recovery of mind. Our fears become reduced in size until they lose their hold over us. In essence, his perfect love begins to cast out our fear.
One of the most common fears is, of course, dying. We are, all naturally concerned with our end, but Christians believe it is only the end of the beginning. Knowing that there is a mapped out future beyond a temporal fear brings huge comfort to millions of believers, not least to those who live with daily uncertainty around the world.
I know that many might be afraid to believe in a God for fear of disappointment or looking foolish, but that is the step of faith that God requires of us. Otherwise, if you think about it, it is not much of a faith at all. Much like when a father says to his young son. “ Jump and I will catch you!” The boy has to trust this dad. And when he does his faith is rewarded.
I have learnt that faith sets me free, while fear holds my thoughts and emotions captive. And that is worth shouting from the treetops. Although not too high please.