From Fearless To Fearful To Freedom


Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.

Charles Stanley

When I was born, I had no fear.  What was there for me to fear?  I didn’t have any ideas about pain, about failing, about danger, or about evil.  I was fearless!

For example, I used to love climbing trees.  If I could reach the lowest branch, you would find me climbing as high as I could go.  My parents had a giant willow tree in the backyard, and I remember climbing high into the tree as high as I could go.  Things changed on one of the first days of first grade when I fell out of an apple tree at a church picnic.  The fall was not very far, but I managed to land on my wrist.  From this point on, I became more cautious when it came to climbing trees.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I don’t remember being afraid of the dark when I was a baby, but I know I was scared as I entered my toddler years (and beyond).  I wonder how I learned to fear the dark.

I don’t remember fearing failure when I was young.  If I didn’t build the block tower correctly, I could always build it again.  As I went to school, I began to fear getting bad grades.  I feared letting my parents down.  My perfectionism was more driven by a fear of failure than a desire to succeed.

I went from fearless to afraid.

Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.

W. Clement Stone

I remember in second grade when my grandparents were visiting from Minnesota.  On the last day of their visit, my Grandpa walked with me to school.  I remember my Grandpa being a lot of fun at this stage of my life.  He wrestled with my brother and me in our living room.  He liked to tease us and have fun.  Grandpa liked to hang out with us, and I enjoyed the times we had together when he visited us in Illinois or when we traveled up to Minneapolis.  When Grandpa dropped me off at school, we said our goodbyes as I headed into the school yard.  Not long after he left, I became upset.  I was afraid that something would happen to Grandpa and I wouldn’t be able to see him again.  In tears, I talked to my teacher who somehow arranged for a phone call to my house.  A little while later, Grandpa showed up back at school where I was able to give him another hug.

You would think that growing up would take me beyond my fears.  In reality, my fears have only matured.  I am now afraid of other things that are now on my radar as an adult.  I fear for the health of my wife and kids.  I fear for the future and my ability to provide for my family and to retire with enough funds to make it to the end of my life.  I still fear failure at my job, in my parenting, in my faith, and even in my writing.

Fear can paralyze us.

I think fearless is having fears but jumping anyway.

Taylor Swift

A few years ago, I suffered from fear-based paralysis.

I was absolutely terrified about the prospect of going to Guatemala with my daughter leaving my wife and son behind.  When my friend, Adam Flora, asked me to go to Guatemala with him as a chaperone for our church’s youth group, I was initially convinced I was staying home in the comforts of the familiar.  I was afraid, and I was prepared to miss the adventure of a lifetime if it meant I didn’t have to face my fears.

It took a major leap of faith for me to say yes to Adam.  And the rest is history (if you’ve been reading along).  I traveled to Guatemala, and I fell in love with the people in the small village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj.  This first trip led to two more trips the past two summers with my family.  And it has led to a vision for returning to Xenacoj over and over again for the rest of my life.  Besides this, my initial trip to Guatemala helped me learn to face my fears with more confidence.

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.

Louisa May Alcott

I still have fears in my life, but I have learned to move forward in faith and wisdom as I face the various things in my life that scare me to death.  I wouldn’t say I’m fearless, but I can say that my fear has become healthier.

This new perspective has given me freedom to face life with a renewed sense of fearlessness.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  I John 4:18

How has fear impacted your life?  What do you fear?  How have you learned to face your fears?