Everybody has fears. I have fears. You have fears. Most of us don't talk about them. But they're there, lurking in the shadows.
The most commonly identified fears are phobias. When I was a child, I was afraid of birds. If there were birds on the front lawn, I wouldn't go outside to play. By the logic of irrational fears, that meant I was terrified by the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. There's also the fear of heights, closed spaces, spiders, snakes, and, as we learned in A Charlie Brown Christmas, there's triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. We can be fearful people.
Then there are the more existential fears, like the fear of not being liked. That's at the root of being a people-pleaser. There's the fear of dying alone. There's the fear a hidden secret will be revealed. There's a fear of not being loved or having someone to love. Fear is a clear and present - and most times, dangerous - emotion.
It's not insignificant that, in the two gospels containing birth narratives, "Do not be afraid" is used four times. The angels said it to Mary, Joseph, a priest named Zechariah, and the shepherds. Four times in the Christmas story, God says, "Do not be afraid."
All four had to deal with a different kind of fear. What's interesting is many of us deal with the same kinds of fears today. The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?
Has 2020 been a year of fear for you? It certainly has been a long year. We can all agree on that, right? You look at the headlines, and nothing looked