Our better selves

This awful emotion (fear), which most of us do so much to avoid, can make us in many ways superior to our normal selves. Under its spell, we enjoy intense awareness, clarity of thought, and vivid memories. We’re stronger, quicker, and have better endurance. Fear gives us strength it can give us speed and an inability to feel pain. Under stress, the brain releases two groups of chemicals, endocannabinoids and opioids. As their name implies, these compounds have effects very similar to the certain illicit drugs— marijuana and heroin, respectively. Once released within the brain, they deaden pain. It’s no coincidence that world records in athletic events tend to get broken at major events like the Olympics, where the stakes are highest and the pressure is the greatest. Of the eight gold medals that Michael Phelps won at the 2008 Olympics, for instance, seven were world records. Not only that, but when he crossed the finish line in the men’s 100- meter butterfly in 50.58 seconds, breaking the previous Olympic record, three of the other seven swimmers who finished after him also came in ahead of the previous record. Fear is a God-given superpower. Invite someone to take a closer look at Christ and his church.