Fear Attacks Only Weakness, So Confront It With StrengthBusiness
Paul watched from the doorway as his image entered the kitchen. He hadn’t noticed before that the small end of his necktie stuck out, and how pale he looked against the dark blue suit.
He watched himself sit down at the breakfast table as Joan joined him with two steaming cups of coffee. “Why don’t you eat some breakfast, Paul? You’ve been living on coffee and junk food for weeks.” He stirred the cereal but didn’t take a bite. “You had nightmares again last night, didn’t you?”
Paul blew across the coffee mug. “You know what they’re going to do today, don’t you?”
“Paul, you’re exhausted. Call and tell them you can’t make it today. Stay home. Tell them you’re sick.”
“I can’t. I’ve got to get ready for that meeting at the bank this afternoon. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I have to do something. They’re going to close the school. And you know what that means: we lose everything—my job, our house, everything.”
FEAR IS A COWARD AND A LIAR. IT WANTS TO SEE YOU WEAK, BECAUSE ONLY THEN CAN IT BE STRONG.
“Not everything, Paul. We still have each other. And Jeff and Sandra. We’ve had to start all over before. The world can’t throw any problem our way that God won’t give us the strength to handle. Maybe it’s all for the best this way. Maybe keeping the school just isn’t worth all the stress and heartbreak.”
Paul watched himself sip coffee, unsure whether to laugh or rage at the fact that not only was he having to relive this mental anguish, he was having to do it in duplicate. His image looked out the window. “It’s too late for me to get a nine-to-fi ve job. I’d never fi t into a law fi rm, and with nothing but ten wasted years on my resume, they’d never hire me anyway. I used to think that one advantage of being my own boss that that nobody could fi re me. Hah! What a joke. The truth is no one would hire me.”
Standing off to the side, Rafe whispered to Paul, “Fear is a coward. It attacks when you are weak and confused. Like most cowards, though, fear is easily bluffed. It retreats when confronted by strength and deliberation. Fear never would have gotten to you like this a year ago, would it?”
Paul scowled at Rafe. “A year ago things were a lot different, a lot more certain.”
“Yes, yes. That’s how fear works. First it sends along doubt to soften you up. You begin to doubt whether or not you’re doing things right. Then you doubt whether you’re doing the right thing. And fi nally you doubt whether you’re even the right person. Once there is enough doubt, once you stop believing in yourself, then 24 Joe Tye
fear knows it can defeat you. Its very cowardice is what makes fear such a treacherous enemy.”
“The reason there is fear, Rafe, is that there are serious problems—problems I can’t solve. There is no doubt that I am out of money. That is a fact. There is no doubt that when I stop making my mortgage payments, the bank will foreclose. That is a fact. And if I don’t believe in myself anymore, it is those brutal, real facts that are responsible, not fear, not doubt, not the bogeyman.”
“Fear is also a liar.” Rafe spoke with the certainty of someone describing an ancient and familiar foe. “Fear will take a bundle of those things you call facts—each of which might even be true standing alone—and weave them into a picture that is totally false. By adding different facts, or by arranging them in a different way, you could paint a very different picture, couldn’t you? One where everything works out for the best. But fear will never paint that picture for you, and will do everything possible to prevent you from painting it yourself.
“Fear will never tell you the truth. Fear wants you to be weak, because then it can be strong. When you are strong, fear cannot dominate you. By accepting fear’s picture of a bleak future, you become a participant in a fraud—a fraud in which you are also the victim.
“To conquer this cowardly liar, you must confront it with strength and determination, and with the facts and the hope that it wishes to hide from you in the fog of despair. Do not listen to fear. Attack it.”