Monday, August 12, 2013

Fear is Learned

Yesterday, at St Pius X in Towson, MD, we had Father Jim who handles health care for northern Baltimore county and whom I expect we will see again in the future.  He smiled during mass.  He was great with the kids who went to the Children's Liturgy of the Word, and he involved the kids who were still in the pews in the homily.

He said something that I thought was profound: when we are born all we know is love--we have to learn fear.  He went on for several minutes about how learned fear leads us to consume many things in our society today.  It was great food for thought.

But I kept thinking about the homily for a long time afterward yesterday and this morning while I was running.  Yesterday while I was running I had my insight for yesterday's blog entry.  Today--another run, another entry.

What I realized is that fear is learned in a lot of relationships that start off with love--or at least with support (if not love) only.  Friendships can start that way.  Marriage can start that way.  Even certain work environments can start that way.  Everything is positive.  Everything is supportive.  A friend, a spouse, a boss give no real reason to think that there will be anything other than support.

But then doubt creeps in.  Worry creeps in.  Fear creeps in.  We worry that the support will go away.  We worry that something will break the friendship.  We worry that we somehow will not measure up in a marriage.  We worry that we won't succeed in a workplace.  Even though no one has ever said straight out--you have to succeed or else.

In reality if we just kept on trusting and did what we were asked to and supposed to do, everything would work itself out.  Things almost always do.

And if a person has spent most of their lives building relationships based on mutual respect, mutual support, and mutual love (or at least positive affection if not love), then a person is likely to have a support network with a pretty deep bench to help pick up the pieces on the occasions when things do not go quite right.

The fear that is learned can be what destroys rather than helping a person to protect.

That was part of the take away message from Fr. Jim.  And it is something that sticks with me for my relationships moving forward.  

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