Evaluate and readjust your fear
Don’t run, and don’t go on the attack when you face fear. Evaluate. There’s a difference between the fear you feel when your life is at risk, and the fear you feel when you’re taking a risk. The late Rabbi Alan Lew talked about how in Hebrew there are many words for fear, You can calm down and figure out how to take action by identifying which kind you’re feeling. “Pachad” is the innate biological response that turns us into an irrational, Hulk-like mess. If you’re not actually clinging to survival, pachad is imaginary – meaning the face-burning panic you feel before giving a speech is no more real than what you feel during a suspenseful scene in a movie. Know it for what it is. Another kind of fear is “yirah,” a word which means something close to awe in English. This is the fear of standing up for yourself, being who you are, or realizing your full potential. Yirah is the “sacred, trembling feeling” that we encounter at the possibility of the future. This type of fear can be powerful, if you recognize it. It is the deep anxiety many of us bring to the unknown.
The Significance of all of this is the next time you are prompted to invite someone to take a closer look at Christ and his church ask yourself whether the butterflies in your stomach signal a genuine possibility of harm, or “the sacredness of what you’re touching.”