The four-letter f*** word
The four-letter f*** word I grew up with was not to be said by a kid, at least not in front of an adult.
There’s a new four-letter f*** word. Actually, it’s not a new word, but like the f-bomb mindful society banned when I was growing up, this word is not said very often these days by children or adults. At least not in public.
The word is fear.
And I want to talk about it.
Here’s why. The deeper emotion affecting so many Americans now is not anger, it’s fear.
Oh, fear seems like anger. Fear certainly sounds like anger, but anger is the outward response to this inward emotion we don’t show. Or don’t know how to show well.
It’s true. Far too many of us don’t know how to express fear, if we even acknowledge we have it, because Americanism, as it has been handed to us from at least as far back as the post WWII era, encourages fearlessness. So, instead of voicing fear, we practice what we do know how to use (and have certainly heard a lot in our culture lately), and that is anger.
Peter Stearns, author of American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety, says, “Living through the Cold War, with its constant specter of nuclear attack, required an ability not to live in a perpetual state of fear in order to function. The last decade, by contrast, has seen a steadily high level of fear punctuated by jarring spikes, rather than a gradual acculturation.”
But we express fear not as fear. Instead, we shove around half-baked thoughts or we engage in potshots, not intelligent arguments where neither side posts a “win” or a “lose” but a collective gain.
Stearns continues. “The attack on Pearl Harbor wasn’t so scary because even people who disagreed with Roosevelt’s policies largely believed that the U.S. military could defend the nation and eventually win the war. These days, the measurable loss of faith in government…has given the public less confidence that they will be kept safe.”
Let me bring theology into this. When we admit we have that four-letter f*** word, we are not immobilized by knocking knees or deafened by chattering teeth for long. Instead, we seek solutions in the best possible way.
Sure, we can think collectively; two heads are better than one; but we have another option, a better option. We can turn to the One who is far more powerful than all of humanity put together.
That’s right. Admit your fears to God. As neighbors and as a nation, let’s admit our fears to God. When we come to our Creator as His children (which is what He wants), we put power where it belongs.
God never stays silent (for long) and God never walks away. God does respond. God does speak. Often God speaks through “our” ideas (which are actually His). When we give fear to the One we should fear (respect), this is what happens: good stuff. That’s right. Good stuff happens when we give our fear to God. The Christian doesn’t worry, fret or fumble. This life, and our future life, IS in His hands.
If you know God even in part (and no one I know has the Corner Market on understanding God), you know He has this. He totally has this. And He wants to have this.
So give it to Him.
Another f*** word is fool. We are foolish when we think fear does not move us.
Proverbs 9:10a says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” This said, don’t hold or hide fear. Move it to where it belongs.
The blog first appeared in The Independent, March 14, 2018.