Standing on the Brakes in Fear

We’ve all had those moments. We are moving along in traffic, quietly thinking about the day ahead. Out of nowhere, we are now looking into a sea of red tail lights. With a screeching halt, you stand on your brakes to prevent a collision.

You belt out a 4-letter word (or ten) as the contents of your purse are propelled to every corner of the vehicle. Fear laden, you reluctantly look into your rear view mirror to see if the guy behind you is going to stop in time. Whew. Close call. One second less and it could have been a lot different.


When I was learning to drive, it wasn’t with the standard automatic transmission. Looking back, I’m glad my dad taught me the “three on a tree” right from the start. Did anyone else use the emergency brake on hills, even small inclines? I mean, the fear of rolling back was enough to make you just ride with a friend for the rest of your life, throwing freedom out of the roll-down window. Before leaving the house, I would think about the roads and stops I “might” encounter on my venture out, and avoid them at all cost if I thought the emergency brake would be a requirement. Fear. It didn’t creep in, it came barreling through the door.

Fear is not always a negative thing. Fear can come from instincts, like for survival; a necessity for life. Fear can be taught, as to avoid strangers. Fear is learned from cultures and social groups. Fear comes from experiences in life, but this is where it gets tricky. Because your allergic self was stung by 5 bees while cutting grass, do you just let the grass grow higher than your house? Or, do you conquer the fear and get back on the horse, or rather the lawn mower in this instance? Fear.

Fear often holds us back. It keeps us from things we want; things to better our lives and future. If I shut my eyes to sleep, I could have that recurring nightmare again. If I have “that talk” with my boss, he might think I’m crazy. If I share a solution with that exhausted mother, she might snap at me for offering to help, or just think I’m plum crazy.

Rejection. Fear of rejection has cropped up.

How often do you dream up stuff in your mind that never comes to fruition? Not good dream kind of stuff. I’m referring to the stuff nightmares are made of. Worry stems from fear. A quick retrospective will have you baffled at how you wasted so much energy on nothing…absolutely nothing at all. What a waste, huh?

The flip side of this, is when there are real threats or challenges, you jump to action without flinching. You are more likely to take action when there is emanate danger. Think military. Troops are mobilized when there is danger.

During a family vacation at the beach, my family had decided to leave the sandy shore and head to the pool. Normally, I would pack up all of the gear and go as well, but not this particular day. I felt some strange way and decided to stay in my beach chair. After about 5 minutes of just gazing into the crashing waves, I saw an elderly man fighting for his life. Waves crashed over and over upon his balding head. I immediately jumped up, ran out to the surf, locked my arms under his pits, and pulled him ashore. He had a tight grip on his yellow float, as it was the only thing that had been keeping him afloat. Fear. I saw it in his eyes. Fear. I could have sat and thought about what to do, ran the other way, or been paralyzed in my seat. Nope! I took action. After I ensured the tall white-sun-screened-up gentleman was ok, I took off running down the beach in search of his family or friends. My family was watching from near the pool, but had no idea what had happened and why the flight fear instinct was engaged in full force. They just saw me running like Forrest Gump down the beach. I don’t remember the run. I just remember getting to the first family I saw, way down the beach. Take note, it was in September and most families were home with kids in school. The elderly friends from the assisted living home and the “lady-in-charge”, slowly walked back to retrieve their tired friend. Not to be boastful, but I saved a life that day by allowing God to use me. I didn’t let fear paralyze me. Since that day, I’ve asked myself over and over, “what if”. What if I had not stayed planted in that beach chair? What if I had been afraid to jump to his aid and pull him to safety? What if I just had ran to get help instead? What if?

Think back to the instances that have had you paralyzed. Are you standing on your brakes with all of your weight? Do you have a firm grip on the emergency brake, pulling the handle loose from the console? Whew. You’re safe. Or are you? There are times in our life when we truly need to put on the brakes. However, there are so many other times where we just rely on the brakes instead of learning to move in faith. Our firm white-knuckled-grip has us at a standstill, all while our dreams are right ahead.

While fear can be healthy, as in instincts, some fear is not as much. Fear can be learned and taught, and not always by a wholesome teacher. Does the face of your fear appear as rejection, insecurity, or failure? Does it have you caged and locked down?

I’ve not always been the hero, jumping up to save the day. I lived the majority of my life in fear. I was the people pleaser. Never the dreamer of my own life. I said the word “can’t” more than I would ever choose to admit. I listened to the demands of others, all while in fear of what would happen if I didn’t abide. Did others hold me back? Maybe. But ultimately, it was fear. The “what if” game haunts me here as well. What if I had stood up for what I believed in? What if I had stepped out on faith? What if I did take a moment to dream big things for me and my family? What if I had spoke my peace? What if?

I’m so glad that I snapped a photo of the man I met in rough seas that September day.  I keep the photo in a well trafficked area of my home as my reminder that this was a time in my life when I did the right thing at the right time.  Listening and doing Gods will trumps all fear.

Just a year ago this week, I worked my last day in an office. Was I scared? ABSOLUTELY. Did I let the fear stop me? Not this time! I had a good christian friend who reminded me of this scripture, just when I needed it most:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7. 

Thank you Jan Wells for letting God speak to me through you .  You made a difference and I continue to share this verse with others.

I’ve also found this verse to be comforting:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.

What if? What if you dreamed a little (or a lot), asked for God’s direction, believed in faith, let your foot off of the brake, released the emergency brake, and slowly stepped on the gas? What if?

If you can relate to this post, I’m sure your friends can as well.  Please share within your social media avenues to inspire and encourage others.

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