Fear. (It’s ok to fear.) | by Rabbi Brian | 2017 | issue 28 of 40

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Fear. (It’s ok to fear.)

Emails about fear

I sent out an email a few weeks ago about fear.
https://rotb.org/2017/08/16/love-shaken/

I wrote that I was scared.

And I was when I wrote it.

I am not in that sharp place of re-surfaced terror today.

When I wrote, I wrote from a place of fear. My sense of alarm was apparent to those who read my words. (I am thankful to be a powerful enough writer to express my emotions in my words.)

Allowing myself to be scared made me feel I was not so alone.  Support from so many allies followed, and that also made me feel I was not so alone.

More than fifty of you wrote me emails of support.

My article got shared and reshared.

The support kept flooding in. And the more support I felt, the less scared I felt.

The editors of the ProgressiveChristianity.org website featured my article.

I am lifted in love: they took a stand by promoting my message of taking a stand. (For a Christian organization to do that – to promote a rabbi’s plea to stand up against hate – is the sign of love from an ally of 100,000 people. Here is the link to share the article from their site and let them know you support what they did.)

 

The Three Other Emails

But there were three other emails.

Three people emailed to tell me that fear is in my head and that I oughtn’t needlessly feel it.

I countered each by asking, “When you stub your toe in the middle of the night, doesn’t the pain feel real?”

One of the three emailed back that I had misread their email, and indeed I had.

I want to be clear in this, “Fear is natural and real. Fear – healthily felt – protects us from harm. It is supposed to. We are born hardwired to fear. It is a survival mechanism as vital as a liver removing toxins from the body.”

Certainly, there are unhealthy manifestations of fear.

But fear is natural.

(Here is an article on the five natural emotions. Here is my podcast of it.)

I plan to have fear as long as I live.

The Facebook Rabbi

[For the following, I have purposely refrained from giving details to protect anonymity.]

Recently, I met a rabbi at a conference.

We were both attending a session about hope. (Appropriate for the fearful times we live in.)

This rabbi shared that they saw on a congregant’s Facebook feed that the congregant was afraid.

The rabbi, paused, looked around the room as if to assess emotional safety and said, “I had to post something uplifting.” The word uplifting had some undue stress in its saying. The rabbi stammered for a second and said, “…I didn’t feel like I had any hope…I don’t…I don’t have hope right now….”

There was a hard pause.

Someone else said, seemingly to encourage, “I’m certain what is said in this room stays in this room.”

The initial sharing rabbi responded, “Yes, yes…what’s said here stays here… I don’t have hope right now…”

My heart broke.

My heart broke.

How sad.

How sad that this clergy person felt they must not show their fear to their congregants. 

And, how sad for that congregant whose fear of having fear is reinforced.

Flying with Theresa

Years ago I was on a flight with a colleague, Theresa, and we were flying over a hot desert. Turbulence. She was scared. I asked her if I could hold her hand. She held my hand and squeezed. We made small talk as she spasmed tension into me over the course of 20 minutes. Turbulence ended, we went back to not holding hands.

How sad that if I weren’t there, she would have had to feel the fear alone.

The Narrow Bridge

Rabbi Nachman of Braslav taught, “All of the world is a very narrow bridge, and the balance of humanity, the essence of life, can be found in not indulging the fear.”

With hopes that you will find faith in the midst of the fear.

And, with love,

Rabbi Brian

rabbi_brian@rotb.org

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