Have you ever dreamed up a crazy fear and then wondered where in the world it came from? Of course, we all have. Occasionally being overwhelmed by your fear doesn’t mean you are crazy (even though it can make you feel that way)—it just means you are human. We all deal with fear—even the brave mamas with poker faces, who never seem to flinch. The things we fear may differ, but inside we’re all the same. At MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers), we’ve been having lots of conversations about fear and what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be brave.
So what is this weird thing called “fear”? God made our brains incredibly complex, to respond even before we’re able to process the response. Fear starts with a stimulus that triggers chemicals that signal your heart, blood, and muscles to get ready for quick action. These are called “autonomic responses,” and we don’t consciously control them. They are there to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for safety or fight for your life. We see this play out in our lives every day. If you are sitting in the stands at a game and see a baseball coming at your head, you either reach up quickly to catch the ball, or if you are nonathletic like me, you gasp, duck, and expect your husband to catch it for you. If you step out into the street and a car suddenly appears, you quickly jump back. If you are walking alone down a dark lonely street at night, the prickles on the back of your neck signal you to get to a more populated place. Fear can indeed keep us safe.1