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Fear is felt by even the strongest men and women. It is a natural response to certain circumstances in our lives.

What happens when fear begins to paralyze us; keeping us from enjoying what life has to offer? Well, the answer is different depending on the person and situation, but in my experience fear can breed anxiety, irritation, insomnia and more. It can hold a person back when that person truly just wants to jump in.

I was never what some in the mental health field refer to as “a runner” in that I never secretly left home without plans to return. Nor did I take off from a teacher, classroom, playground, school, etc. I have, however, been someone who tends to retreat quickly when uncomfortable or scary feelings and situations arise.

I, and millions of others, have had the tendency to avoid or to run. Part of it is fear of what others may say, fear of making the wrong decisions, fear of what the outcomes will be. Many find that by placing themselves only inside their world, they don’t have to face what life may throw at them.

In September, my boyfriend Bob and I attended the WEBN fireworks on the Ohio River. Since his brother-in-law is an EMT in Newport, we had the luxury of reserved seating in the firefighter/paramedic family area. As we were waiting for the show to start, I noticed the back of a man’s gray T-shirt that said, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” That saying has stuck with me since. Even though I had heard it before, in that moment I breathed it into a deeper part of my being. I wanted to know what it was like to feel the fear and do it anyway.

I may tend to run, but to my credit I have also faced fear many times. For instance, back in 2008 I was standing atop a platform and was hooked to a rope and harness. I was about to step into midair and swing for several feet before the rope that was holding me from above would bump into a set of tires and bounce me back in the direction from which I came. This, the zipline, was one of the scariest moments in my life then. Prior to that I had walked a tight rope at least 100 feet in the air, climbed a rock wall and walked through a series of loops spread far apart and hanging many feet from the ground. Yet the thought of stepping off the platform and having nothing under my feet was something it took at least 10 minutes for me to be able to do. But, I did it.

Then I think of other things in my life that I fear, but that need done and how those things often trigger my desire to run as far away as I can. I may not always run, but I know I don’t always move toward the fear. Perhaps you can relate.

It’s absolutely normal to feel fear, but it’s how we respond to fear that is most important. Sometimes, our responses make us stronger and sometimes they leave us more fearful. We won’t truly know until we face the fear. Once we face it, and face it again and again, we find that the fear begins to subside and suddenly we are no longer running.

For those who believe, God delivers us from our fears and gives us strength to do the things we never imagined.

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

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