Have no fear—really

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By Jessica Brodie

I grew up in Miami, Florida, and from a young age I was trained to walk down the street in a power stride with my shoulders back and my purse firmly tucked beneath my arm, and to always make eye contact. The idea was that I should project a no-fear attitude so any would-be muggers, rapists, or other villainous sorts would take one look at me and see “threat” or “fighter” instead of “easy prey” or “victim.”

It’s not like I lived in really bad neighborhoods or anything. I was never the victim of a violent crime, nor did I ever witness one. Most of my childhood was spent living in suburbs, and most of the office buildings I worked in had security guards. Still, somehow I got the message that “you just never know what could happen,” and I always needed to be on guard. Behind every corner might be a threat. I was raised to never, ever to let my drink rest unattended on the table lest someone slip a drug inside and then kidnap me and cart me off to some faraway country to sell my organs. I was never to leave any of my personal belongings unattended because “you just never know” who might steal from you.

It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a big city. I left Miami in 2002, and since then I’ve lived in a tiny mountain resort community and a family-friendly Christian-heavy town in the heart of South Carolina, but I’m still not very trusting, and I’m still on guard. (Loving friends have made me aware that perhaps I am a wee bit paranoid.) As a female, I’m all the more conscious of personal safety. When I’m with my kids and in a desolate area, I am very choosy about where we stop to use the restroom. Last night driving home from a speaking engagement, I purposely did not stop at the rest stop on the interstate because it was already nightfall, and I waited another several exits until I could find a well-lit, well-populated gas station.

Fear—it’s everywhere, and perhaps I’m especially conscious of it. But the Bible makes it clear that fear is a human condition. If we put our trust in God, we really have nothing to fear. Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” It’s a great point, and a comfort. To paraphrase: sticks and stones may break my bones, people can rob me and hurt me, horrible storms and natural disasters can take away my home and my livelihood, drought and famine can starve me, but as a Christian believer, I know this earthly life is just a temporary stop. Eternity awaits me. My soul is in the hands of the Lord. Really, truly—I have nothing to fear.

So I might still be choosy about where I use the restroom or disinclined to leave my purse or cell phone sitting about. But that’s just force of habit and common sense.

With God in my heart and his protection surrounding me, what can mere worldly threats do to me? My body is but a shell; my soul is forever. As a child of God, I really have nothing to fear.