“Never be afraid to sit a while and think.” It’s a line from one of my favorite plays, A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Potently poignant, the play is about the struggles of an African American family in the 1950s as they navigate, personal, familial, religious, generational, and cultural differences during the early civil rights era. A young Nigerian doctoral student, Asagai, tells the main character’s sister, the woman he loves, to stop and reflect on the multitude of monumental changes that are or will be affecting her and her family. The word, “afraid,” always struck me. He leaves her with those words and, for the first time, she puts her fears aside for a brief moment as she begins to consider the possibilities.
Fear is a powerful motivator, demotivator, catalyst, or constraint. How often have I felt that I needed to, “do something, NOW!” How many times have I reacted without thinking because I thought I had no time.
What makes you afraid?
What makes me afraid?
When I began teaching, at first I had a tough time, but not for any of the reasons you might think. I struggled because I was jumpy – very jumpy. Hands were thrown before I had time to think. Once I became a teacher, however, I had to build a safety net so that this kind of thing would never happen. Mine was a three-pronged approach: I worked on my reaction; I instituted a, “If I can touch you, you’re too close” personal space policy; and, I told the kids my dilemma and asked them not to scare me. They generally obliged. Nearly twenty years later, even when a kid has scared me good, I’m happy to report, I’ve never swung on a child. You can insert a winky face here! Don’t be alarmed by my absurd confession – everyone comes with her own baggage, and no one ever comes to a situation the same way. We each view the circumstances through our own lense of experiences. That is why it so important to sit a while and think. I have developed a “think time” when I’m afraid. I no longer just act or react. I use my jump-scare analogy because the fear is intense and everyone can relate in one way or another, even if you aren’t jumpy…like my husband.
I’ve both admired and been infuriated by my inability to scare my husband over the years. Let me clarify; he gets scared… sometimes, but he never jumps. Never. NOT EVER. Once, I hid behind the shower curtain for a full half an hour with the sole purpose of jumping out at him screaming bloody murder just to get a reaction. He slowly looked up, completely unmoved, and calmly stated, “You just scared the crap out of me.” How completely unsatisfying. He, on the other hand, has merely to walk unexpectedly into a room where I am and will very often produce in me a wild banshee scream, a dropped something or other and a fighting stance. He laughs – I don’t think it’s funny.
I digress, my point in all this is that the most critical time to think is when I am afraid… before I run…before I fight.
To think about why I am afraid.
To think about my options – all of them.
To think about whether or not the situation or person can actually hurt me and how much.
To think about whether I had a part in creating this thing that is making me afraid.
To think about whether I am afraid because the result may be bad or because it may be good.
To think about God’s plan for me in all of this and thank Him for his providence.
Jump-scares aside, life creates plenty of opportunities to make us afraid – to make us worry – to make us fearful. But, we need not be afraid because “greater is He that is in [me] than he that is in the world.”
Isaiah 43:1 “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”
1 John 4:4 You, little children, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.