Fear Will Not Win

| by Bert Armstrong

Recently I wrote a blog story reflecting on a hilariously terrifying encounter with a self-diagnosed medical condition of mine – ophidiophobia. For what I am sure was a very small handful of readers who missed this article due to vacations – or for the medically uninformed – this means I have a terrifying fear of snakes – easily among my top 10 fears in this world. For about a week after my snake encounter, I found every reason under the sun to avoid my regular pandemic-driven self-improvement exercise routine. I would sit at home imagining my next outing, coming right back to that spot on the trail and seeing Mr. Snake again or, worse yet, seeing a bigger and more menacing companion.

My daughter has recently been exposed to my other self-diagnosed health condition – a case of acute acrophobia – my excessive fear of heights. She has it in her head that she wants to go skydiving. She is a beautiful, brave, adventuresome 23-year-old and I admire her spunk! The problem is that she wants me to go with her! She’s not buying my excuse (minus a doctor’s note) and continues to insist that we take the leap together one day.

Fear has its place in protecting us from ourselves and things all around us that can be harmful. It has a way of checking our sensibilities and testing our resolve when faced with big decisions and hard choices. But left unchecked, it can hold us back from things that matter. Things that are important that we need to do. Things that others are counting on us to get done.

Since early 2020, we have all faced the unimaginable fear of COVID. We have feared for our health and the health of family and friends. Our nonprofit community feared the impact that lockdowns and illness would have on their ability to serve clients, members, and a community that depends on the sector in so many ways. Nonprofit boards and management feared the loss of support from donors and the lost sense of community that working from home would have on its staff and volunteers.

But leaders have stepped up and made bold decisions for continuing to serve the community. Staff and volunteers happily social-distanced and put on their masks so they could continue providing essential services, while caring enough to protect one other. Others figured out how to work from home while also navigating virtual school experiences with their children and income challenges of a spouse who lost their job. Donors reached out and offered incredible support, not waiting to be asked and not holding back in their generosity. They all did whatever they could to continue meeting the needs of others. They overcame fear, checked their resolve, and made the hard choices necessary to get the job done. Bravo! Fear cannot win if we have the will to overcome it.

As for me, after about a week of fear-driven procrastination, I told myself that it was time to get back out on the trail. I’m too close to my healthy living goals to let a silly little snake ruin eight months of progress. So, I put on my sneakers and headed back to Lake Johnson. Another five miles and 900 calories burned – and not a snake in sight!  Fear overcome (for now at least) and back to work!

As for skydiving, I made a promise to my baby girl that dad would take that death-defying leap from a perfectly good airplane with her – on my 70th birthday! So, thankfully I’ve got some time to work my way up to that one.

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