I want to start today’s blog post by sharing with you my journal entry from this morning.

8 September 2020

This morning in our family scripture study, we talked about the believers in the book of 3 Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, who were threatened by the non-believers to be killed if the sign of Christ’s birth didn’t happen by a certain day.

Bry asked the children around the kitchen table how they would have felt. “Scared!” Why? “Because we might get killed!” 

I was thinking about that fear the people waiting for Christ’s coming, must have felt. I wondered if some of that fear came from a fear that they might have been wrong about Christ’s coming – that there was no Christ after all.

I remember after Matthew died feeling a moment of fear and panic, What if I was wrong about eternal families and about the Plan of Salvation and about a heaven? What if this really is ‘the end’?

I felt such a comfortable and familiar feeling of peace in that moment, that I felt sure that what I’d believed and what I’d testified to my children of, was indeed truth. We would be with Matthew again – an eternal family. 

But, for a moment I felt that fear. And maybe that was just a part of the fear the believers in 3 Nephi were experiencing.

And … it’s okay. I shared this with the children. It’s okay to fear. Don’t fear your fear. It’s okay to be nervous. Don’t be nervous about your nervousness. It’s okay to not know. Believe.

 Then I shared this quote, from Elder Holland’s 2013 address, Lord I Believe:

A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, “Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.” I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for “only believing.” I told him that Christ Himself said, “Be not afraid, only believe,” I told this boy that belief was always the first step toward conviction and that the definitive articles of our collective faith forcefully reiterate the phrase “We believe.”

It’s about not resisting what we don’t know. And not resisting fear, and letting it be what it is, for now. Letting us be where we are, for now.

I don’t know it’s true yet. I am nervous. I am afraid.

“When we can stop being afraid of being afraid, we automatically relieve some of the fear.”

First, let’s talk about how fear is manifest, because it rarely manifests itself the way we would imagine, or the way it is shown on the Scooby Doo cartoon, right? Bulging eyes, hair on ends, with us running away screaming. That’s not usually how it manifests itself in us, and that makes it a little difficult to diagnose. It usually manifests itself in ways like:

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Trying to control the world
  • Obsessing over it – google searching it over and over again, but not making any progress

Those are just a few of the ways. But I am sitting here now, thinking about the times I react in these ways. Is it possible it’s fear that is acting out in me? Example: I remember, shortly after my parents’ divorce, Bryant, my husband, coming home late from work. I think it was a few days in a row. But I really felt angry with him. Didn’t he respect my time? Couldn’t he put us before his work? etc. If that anger was a manifestation of fear, then what could it have been that I was afraid of? I think maybe I was afraid of Bryant not wanting to come home. I was afraid that we were a burden on him. And that he didn’t want to be with us.

Interesting, right? If I look at myself, in these feelings, and consider that maybe I am not “angry” as much as fearful, I view myself with a lot more compassion. And then I can do that for others, as well, right?

Once we see the fear in us, what do we do? That’s what we all want to know, right? What do I do??

“Just because you have an intense amount of fear doesn’t mean you’re in intense danger.”

Brooke gives us five steps to take, when we have recognized that we are in fear:

  1. Don’t correct yourself or shame yourself or try to “pop” out of fear. But lean into the fear, breathe it in, have compassion with it. There is some fear here.
  2. Write down what three thoughts you’re having that is causing this fear. Can you name them? Usually if you can name three, them more come pouring out.
  3. Separate the fact from the thought. Separate the thing itself from your thoughts about that thing. Think about this one, because there is a big difference between the thing you are scared of and your thought about the thing you are scared of. One you have don’t control over, the other you absolutely do. If you are scared of the coronavirus, there is the coronavirus itself, and then there are your thoughts about the coronavirus. Do you see the difference? And we are not trying to “solve” your fear here. We are just noticing the difference, and separating out the fact from the thought.
  4. Practice peace. Practice feeling peace even while you are still feeling fear. The two can coexist. Practice this. I am scared, and that is okay. Or I am scared of the coronavirus, but I am grateful to be healthy right now. Or I am scared of violence, but I am safe right now.
  5. Last, you and I will notice that there is a lot of energy around fear. Being scared will make us incredibly alert. “It’s that energy, that adrenaline that’s caused from the panic, the life-threatening panic when an animal is being chased by a predator. We aren’t be chased by predators, but we, in our mind, have thoughts like that.” Take that energy and re-direct that energy toward creating something.

This last one is a little obscure. Let me use an example. When I am scared, I tend to lie in bed wide awake. The energy in my brain is hyperactive. One evening, I thought to myself, if the energy in my brain is so active right now, let me redirect that energy away from the thing I fear, and direct it toward my SFD Journal. This journal is really important to me, and I needed the time and energy to get it up and working for me. And, with that extra energy that evening, that is exactly what I did.

“Too many of you are sitting around not producing anything with this energy and actually using it against yourself as a weapon to hurt yourself and to go into despair, into panic, and frustration, to lash out at everyone around you, to lash out at yourself. One of the things I want to help us do is to take that energy … and put it into something productive…

When I take that energy – when I take that anxiety, when I take that fear after I’ve processed it – and I put it into my work, I produce at a very high level. I get a lot of work done and it gives me a sense of relief from that anxious energy.”

“When you find out what you DON’T want, instead of pushing against it, we want to focus on what we DO want. What is it that your afraid of, and what do you want instead?”

Work toward that end, with that energy. Contribute to the solution with that energy. I want to talk a little more about this tomorrow. So let’s stop here. But take the time today to think about fear, how it is manifesting in you, and what you can do with it instead of resisting it. This isn’t a lesson we learn once, but something we will always have, to work on and to become “good” at. Have a beautiful day.

Next DAY #311 FEAR (again)

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