The Bravest People Are The Most Afraid

Faith Doesn’t Take Away Fear, but it Does Transform It.

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

I started this post before my daughter was diagnosed with one of the suckiest pain disorders in the world. (See Planning the Impossible.) Watching her fight this battle has put so many things in life into a new perspective. Little things, like resting her foot on the ground, become big celebrations, even when she can only leave it there for five seconds. The meanings of “brave” and “warrior” have been catapulted into a realm I never imagined possible, never dreamt I would have to witness.

This post started as a confidence booster for those of us who struggle with anxiety. One of the damaging self-fallacies that I see often in my work with anxious people is the belief that “I’m not strong enough,” or “brave enough,” or “good enough.” We have this innate perfectionism that says we will never be like everyone else.

It can seem like the entire world is brave while I am shaking in my boots. That anxiety makes me a coward, and worth less than those who face life head-on. It can feel like I’m a child who landed on a battlefield unprepared, surviving on luck and a prayer. (I wrote that before my daughter was dropped headfirst into the fire swamp and surrounded by Rodents of Unusual Size.)

What I often fail to recognize is that we are all basically children, tossed into the broiling waters of life, surrounded by good and bad things, trying to determine right from wrong and being absolutely pummelled in the process. (It’s always creepy when I write something like this to myself and then find it later when I need it most.)

We extoll David for his victory over Goliath, a child with no armor and no training. We praise him for his lack of fear. But that wasn’t it at all. It wasn’t that he had no fear. It was that he also had faith.

Faith doesn’t take away fear. Faith is what helps you stand in the midst of the battle, shaking in your tiny little boots, admitting that you can’t do it. And then trusting something or someone bigger.

We don’t like to talk about Faith out in public these days. It’s been (unfairly) linked with gun rights, politics, and discrimination.

But today, my daughter and I are left with nothing but Faith. There is no infection to cure, no injury to heal, no analgesic to remove the pain, no orthotic to return function. She has to trust that doing the very thing that feels the worst will, in fact, be the avenue toward healing.

She has to be braver than the pilot lifting off the ground, trusting in his training. She has to be fiercer than the soldier poised to go into battle, trusting his commanding officer. She has to be stronger than the firefighter running into a burning building, trusting his gear to keep him alive.

She has no plane, no kevlar, no fireproof suit.

CRPS and Anxiety have a lot in common. They both shout in your head like a tantruming toddler, demanding that you avoid the thing that will be uncomfortable, erroneously convincing you that you’re better off taking the easy route.

Anxiety says “Don’t do that work now, it’s uncomfortable. Enjoy the moment.” (We call it procrastination, but it’s really just fear lying to us.) Are you a warrior? Are you willing to fight that anxiety?

Anxiety says “Don’t wear that, others will judge you.” The truth is, no matter what you do, good people won’t judge, and bad people, they’ll still find something to judge. Be a warrior. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Protect your heart and do what’s right.

Anxiety says “You messed up, you’re a failure.” What your brain really means is “That might have been a mistake, and we can learn from it to behave differently next time. But everyone makes mistakes, and I’m okay.” Be a warrior. Put on your belt of truth and pick up your shield of faith.

Anxiety wins when we let it. Fear is powerful but not as powerful as Faith. There is a warrior inside you. I know, because there is a warrior inside me. And I believe it, because I have come face to face with the warrior inside my daughter.

In the novel that I am currently writing, the protagonist receives an important message early on in the book. She takes it to heart, and it changes everything.

The bravest people are the most afraid.

Bravery is running into the fire. (“Into the Fire” from Scarlet Pimpernel- “Never hold back your step for a moment, never doubt that your courage will grow. Hold your head even higher and into the fire we go!”)

Faith is saying “I don’t like this, but I’m doing it anyway because I believe that it is the right thing to do.”

Courage says that no amount of fear or discomfort can stop me. It can only be born from fear, and it is one of the most beautiful jewels in your crown.

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Anne Springer

Anne Springer

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I’m a speculative fiction and poetry writer, a curious soul who never grows tired of asking “Why” and “What if?” Look up AuthorAnneSpringer on Facebook!