A knock sounded on the front door, and I frantically dialed my husband’s cell phone. My heart stopped when it rang on the stand next to me. I usually don’t call my husband in a panic whenever someone comes to the front door, but the power had gone out ten minutes earlier. The scent of pine from the Yankee Candle we’d lit hadn’t even permeated the air. My husband had left for a meeting, and so we were alone in the dark. I hadn’t been expecting anyone.
The kids ran into open view excited to see who was visiting. I practically tackled them in my attempt to pull them out of the sight of our glass door. “Get back.” I waved them into the kitchen.
The knock sounded again.
My heart pounded in my ears louder than the cars that crank the base as they pass by my house late at night. Three little sets of curious eyes stared at me. “Who is it, Mommy?”
I raised a finger to my lips to hush them. Whoever was outside needed to know they picked the wrong time to come knocking. I would defend my children to my dying breath. I yelled out in my loudest voice. “I’m calling the police!”
Several minutes passed without a sound. I started to breathe again. The kids whispered to each other. Their volume increasing with each sentence.
Footsteps sounded on the porch.
My heart collapsed in on itself and dropped to my toes. I reached for a knife out of the butcher block.
Keys jingled in the lock.
The mysterious knocker had keys?
The door opened. “I forgot my cell phone.” My husband strolled into the foyer.
I melted into a puddle on the kitchen floor. If only I’d known he was the mysterious knocker. If I’d only had the nerve to ask “Who is it?” I would have recognized his voice instantly. Instead, I panicked, and we hid. When I finally did get the nerve to say “I’m calling the police.” My husband had chosen that moment to walk back to his car to get his keys. If it had been daytime, I would have recognized his shape outside the door. But in the dark, our fears can keep us blinded.
When we operate out of fear, we are quick to attack in anger or react in defense. We don’t stop to consider what is the wise thing to do. Fear may seem prophetic when we extrapolate out the worst-case scenarios, but fear is shortsighted and has blind spots.
- Fear of failure has a blind spot that leads to cheating on tests.
- Fear of rejection is shortsighted and keep some from trying out for the team.
- Fear of not being loved strangulates relationships or causes them to go too far too fast.
Like Zack William’s song says, “Fear is a liar.”
We may not be able completely to regulate our initial response. Even Jesus’s disciples struggled. When guards came to take Jesus away, Peter reacted out of fear and cut off the guard’s ear. Jesus, on the other hand, remained calm and collected and put the soldier’s ear back on. Jesus knew the horrific torture and death he was about to face. If anyone had the right to lash out or panic, it was Jesus, but he didn’t. He trusted God’s plan.
Dr. Katherine Brownlowe neuropsychiatrist at Ohio State Wexner Medical Campus calls Peter’s reaction the “amygdala hijack.” The amygdala overrides our conscious thought to enact the fight or flight response. Even if our amygdala initially gets hijacked, we can contain our second and third reactions. We don’t have to lash out in anger with hurtful words or shut down in self-defense. We don’t have to ice someone with a cold shoulder or make hasty erroneous decisions.
If we take a moment, to check our reaction, think, and listen, we may recognize God’s voice over the lies. We can tune out fear and dial into God’s wisdom. God is in control, and he is bigger than our fears and smarter than our problems.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
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