In her book The Places That Scare You, Pema Chodron tells of a friend whose elderly parents live in an area of Florida where there’s poverty and hardship. Their way of relating to this is to live in a community that is walled, protected by guard dogs and electric gates. The longer they live there, the less willing they are to travel beyond the walls. They pay someone to do their shopping. They’re anxious about the persons allowed through the gates: service and repair personnel, gardeners, plumbers, and electricians. They are becoming increasingly unable to cope with an unpredictable world.
The truth is we’re all afraid of something, and we’re all at risk of becoming imprisoned by our own fears. Who hasn’t overstayed a job, due to a paralyzing anxiety we’d not find another? Who hasn’t delayed a visit to the doctor, fearing what tests might reveal?
God continually calls us to new life, which oftentimes means we must go to the places that scare us. Places where we will discover inner strength and courage we didn't know we have. Places where our presence, our skills, our insights are needed. Places where we will grow in faith and in love.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of the fear... M. Scott Peck