November 14, 2013When I was a kid of about 12, I used to jump my horse over anything I could find — big barrels, fences, ditches — and often, even bareback. It was an amazing feeling of freedom and confidence.
Flash-forward to the present and guess what? My new horse is gentle and very athletic. But a few decades have passed and my attitude isn’t the same. I’ll ride all day long — but I’m hesitant to jump.
It’s not that jumping horses is more dangerous now than it was then. Stop by the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club any afternoon and you’ll see the beauty of the sport and the natural harmony between horse and rider.
So what changed?
Some might say it’s our world’s culture of fear. No matter what we’re thinking about doing, there’s always the suggestion we’re too old, too young, too poor, too weak, not smart enough, not good enough or maybe even not worthy. In addition, we’re worried about what’s happening to the environment, of violence in our schools, of the next financial crises, natural disasters and storms, and myriad of ailments and diseases.
“You probably don’t think of yourself as a fearful person, yet fear is a pervasive undercurrent that shapes our perceptions of the world,” says Marie Helm, bachelor of Christian Science, a Christian Science teacher and lecturer.
Helm says dispelling fear is vitally important because whether we are conscious of it or not, fear produces all kinds of negative effects, including overreaction, indecisiveness, lack of productivity, isolation, depression and even physical illness.
How do we fight back against this culture of fear? “The root of fear is found in our concept of who we are and who is governing our world,” says Helm. “Whatever conception we have of this actually shapes our experience.”
Admittedly, it’s hard not to get sucked in to world belief about what we should be afraid of.
Think about the disciple Peter, who upon seeing Jesus walking on the water, asked if he could join him (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus told him to come. At first, Peter successfully walked across the turbulent sea, his eyes fixed on his beloved teacher. But then, he got distracted and looked around. He saw the violent waves, got scared, and started to sink. Jesus had to reach out and save him.
Clearly, there was a law of God’s in effect that allowed Jesus and Peter to walk across the water — a law contradictory to what the material world tells us should have happened.
And yet, when Peter grew impressed with the stormy sea, his fear got in the way of his realization God was indeed governing the situation. Those worried thoughts suddenly changed how he experienced his surroundings. Heavy with fear, he sank.
The good news is we’re not stuck with a fear-based paradigm of thinking and acting. No matter how loudly the stormy waters of life rage around us, we can keep moving forward, our thought focused on the provable truth of God’s never-failing love and protection.
“God is the omnipotent, wholly good power which is establishing order, harmony, and health in His creation,” says Helm. “And as each of us is just willing to let go of that fear-based thinking and acting, we begin to discover our native peace of mind and happiness and a natural sense of health.”
With that in mind, I think I’ll go saddle up.
Kalogeridis is a member of the Christian Science Church.
Editor’s note: See Church events for information on a free upcoming talk by Marie Helm.