From Fear to Faith

“Everybody’s got fear. Everybody’s afraid something bad is going to happen sometime. That’s life. But what’s important is that you don’t let it stop you from doing things, taking risks. Every decision is a risk, every choice leaves a choice behind. You can’t let yourself get paralyzed by the fear of what might go wrong.

You have to appreciate people who struggle to overcome their fears. Jimmy Piersall was a real good player for the Red Sox, but he had a nervous breakdown because he had all sorts of paranoid fears – they even made a movie about him called Fear Strikes Out. The good thing was that Jimmy eventually got better, got his confidence back, and played a great centerfield. He always stayed a bit flaky, though. How many guys used to take bug spray to the outfield?”

The above is taken from baseball great Yogi Berra’s book What Time is it? You Mean Now? Along with having been one of the truly outstanding players in the game, Yogi is known for his wit, wisdom, and a down-to-earth way of simply saying simple truths.

Yogi is right when he claims that “everybody’s got fear.” It’s been said that humans are born with two fears – falling and loud noises, every other fear is learned. If that is true, we’ve done a pretty good job of learning! We’ve learned, among other things, to be afraid of failure, death, heights, the dark, the unknown, rejection, and sadly, each other – especially when the “other” doesn’t look, believe, or think like we do.

“Every decision is a risk, every choice leaves a choice behind.” Because our learned fears impact the decisions/choices we make, they often prevent us from taking the risks that bring about growth. Mythologist Joseph Campbell says the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. The deep sense of joy, peace, and aliveness we long for is the treasure we seek whether we know it or not; these conditions of the soul can be experienced only if we do not allow our fears to keep us from venturing into the “places” we are afraid to enter.

When writing about Jimmy Piersall, Berra says he got better because he got his confidence back. The word ‘confidence’ is derived from the Latin con fides which means ‘with faith.’ Faith, be it in God, our self, or life itself, is what enables us to override fear. Faith is a matter of entrusting ourselves to what is beyond or deep within us, with the assurance not that all will be well, but that acting in the face of fear is itself a good thing – no matter what the outcome.

Because faith does not necessarily dispel fear, and despite the fact that it may seem a bit flaky, it’s okay to bring some bug spray into the cave!


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