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3 Ways To Deal With Fear Of Loss

When I suffered my brain hemorrhage last November, the scariest part for me was in the ambulance as I was being transferred from the hospital that diagnosed my brain bleed to one with a neurology department that could treat it.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on that fear, where it came from, and what it means for my life now.

As I lay in the gurney, I didn’t know how much damage I had undergone, and I was worried what this would mean for the rest of my life. As a community organizer, my work (and my current life) revolves around being able to think clearly, communicate clearly, and influence people.

Thank God, there was no noticeable damage from the event, but since then I have reflected that this is a temporary sitauation. While I am now physically strong and mentally astute, as we all age we lose these things.

If I love my ability to speak and write well, and this ability leaves me, I will be heartbroken.

If I define myself based on my smarts, and my smarts leave me, my identity will be destroyed.

How can I use the gifts I have now but not base my life around them so I will be lost if I lose them? I am still reflecting on this query, but three responses come to mind:

  1. I can try to use and appreciate my gifts while I have them, just as I appreciate a sunset for its duration. By cultivating this perspective toward my physical and mental health, I hope to suffer should my health leave me..
  2. I can care for my body and mind to keep them working well, just as I care for my car (okay, I should do better than how I care for my car). While age is inevitable and it will mark all of us as long as we are alive, we are able to slow its erosion of body and mind.
  3. If I lose my ability to think clearly, to remember, to communicate, to move easily, what would be left? How can I cultivate traits within myself so that in this case I would still be able to give and receive love for myself and for others. I have known people who have experienced dementia, yet while their memory was gone, they still exuded love and warmth for those around them.

More than death, I have long feared strokes and dementia. These reflections give me a pathway to live so that I might fear them less, to deal with them with more grace should they befall me, and probably to live a better life in the meantime.

Now let’s see if I’m up for it.

Nonprofits that Fear the Least Succeed the Most

Is fear holding you back from success?

Is fear holding you back from success?

On Allison Fine‘s podcast Social Good, Tom Watson made an interesting point about what sets apart the nonprofits that succeed in online giving contests. He said, “The nonprofits that fear the least succeed the most.”

This is true for more than just online giving challenges. It’s true for fundraising, for media, for lobbying, and for much more.

The nonprofits that fear the least succeed the most.

Think about it. Where is fear holding you back?

Easter, Transformation, and Fear

Last week in Bible study we read Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus (Mat 28:1-10), and I was struck by how much this passage has to do with fear:

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Now, normally we don’t think about fear when we think about Easter (unless, like me, you’re terrified of Peeps).

But doesn’t transformation, rebirth, and renewal always come with fear? Don’t we always resist change and fear it?

TheĀ  Easter story reminds us that change is possible. That hope emerges from hopelessness. That death triumphs over life. But, for us to experience this joy, we must be willing to let our joy overcome our fear.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary let their joy and their hope triumph over their fear, while the guards new only fear. Without joy to overcome their fear, they were bought off by the religious elite to suppress the resurrection account.

We too can know the joy and the hope that comes from rebirth and renewal. It will not prevent fear, but it does have the power to overcome our fear, if we are willing.