“Even so, it was the latent fear in her life that paralyzed initiative; she could respond but she could not act.” When I first read this sentence, I immediately felt it could be a sentence written about me. It comes from Charles Williams’, Descent into Hell, a book I was assigned in college but largely evaded reading at the time. Two years later, my curiosity about what my teacher had actually been talking about led me towards reading it. The book is interesting, but I value it more for this one sentence. I know what it’s like to let latent fear paralyze initiative. I know what it’s like to feel like you can respond, but you can’t act.
If you’re like me, the latent fear within you seeps into everything. It’s hidden enough that you don’t always notice it, but it makes everything seem worse than it is. At some point, you grew weary of dealing with things. You became deeply afraid of unwanted surprises. Fear often causes you to freeze up and quit before you’ve even begun. Everything seems overwhelming. You give up. Life is something that happens to you. You are more passive than you should be. You lack the courage to change. Oh yes, you can respond. When life happens to you, when push comes to shove, when you have to act in order to survive, when a situation is too ridiculous to ignore anymore, you can respond quite well. You’re actually quite capable. But being able to take that capability and get a leg up on life is beyond you.
Maybe there were legitimate reasons to fear before, but now it’s gotten out of hand. You’ve made mountains out of every molehill. You’ve put off things you should have dealt with a long time ago because you were filled with dread. It has to end. Yet going from victim to victor in your own life is hard. It’s staring down one molehill masquerading as a mountain at a time. Even more, it’s finally taking initiative. It’s taking action. It’s climbing out of your cocoon of false safety and laziness and making yourself do the things you’d rather not. The thing is, you thought that hiding would protect you, but all it did was make life harder. All it did was make it smaller. You can’t protect yourself from discomfort. You can’t protect yourself from pain. You were meant for more than just surviving. How much more could you do if you weren’t so afraid?