image of undertow by Medium

What Are We Afraid Of?

According to ABC News (Australia), these are the top 10

fears:

  1. Social Phobias- Anxiety disorders
  2. Agoraphobia- fear of open spaces
  3. Acrophobia- fear of heights
  4. Pteromerhanophobia- fear of flying
  5. Claustrophobia- fear of close spaces
  6. Entomophobia- fear of insects
  7. Ophidiophobia- fear of snakes
  8. Cynophobia- fear of dogs
  9. Astraphobia- fear of storms
  10. Trypanophobia- fear of needles

Do any of these fears resonate with you?  Believe it or not, my #1 fear is not on this list.

What Am I Afraid Of?

One fear persists, though I have been afraid of all kinds of things throughout my life.

If you’ve followed me here, or on social media, for a while you’ve probably read my bio.  In it I joke about “still being afraid of the movie Jaws.” Well, its not completely a joke.  Water, any water, causes me great fear.  However, I think I have a couple of valid reasons.

Jaws Movie Poster
Jaws Movie Poster

If you read my May 7, 2020, blog I talked about swimming lessons…well, actually, fear lessons!  That experience left me very cautious of the water.  I don’t like going under water, I don’t like being splashed, and I don’t like being dunked! Our old house, in Texas, had an in-ground pool and dusk was my favorite time to float on top of the water and watch the Mexican Freetail Bats flying overhead.  Basically, I just want to be left alone when I’m in the water.

Perceived Fear-

My mom encouraged us to watch horror films, when we were little, so that we would be able to distinguish between reality and fiction.  So, the movie Jaws, when it was released in theaters in 1975 was on the watch list (I was 6 years old).  It was seared into my mind and I’ve been afraid of sharks ever since.  So much so, that when I took my kids, ages 9 & 8, to Universal Studios (around 2011) and we rode the Jaws ride, when it came up right beside me with it’s gaping jaws wide open

I was ready to sacrifice my youngest child to the monster from the deep!  For real!  He’ll even confirm this!

It didn’t matter that I knew, intellectually, it was a mechanical shark.  The fear was there! My heart was in my throat and the flight instinct was overwhelming.  So, that fear has compounded my fear of water.  (I hope I’m not the only one out here with this unrealistic fear!)

Real Fear-

Another reason for my aquaphobia is that I’ve actually been hurt by the ocean.  We were visiting my aunt, who lives on the Outer Banks, in North Carolina.  We were boogie boarding and I got caught in an undertow.  An undertow is the under-current that is moving offshore when waves are approaching the shore.  It is a natural part of any large body of water.  Initially I was fine, but then…

I was on the boogie board, riding the wave toward shore.  Before I reached the shore, the undertow seized me and took me under the next wave.  This happened a couple of times before the ocean slammed me onto the shore knocking me unconscious.

Undertow
Undertow image

I woke up in an ambulance receiving first aid.  I had a headache and sand coming out of my ears for days.  This was not fun.

Facing My Fear-

In March 2020, my hubs and I moved to Guam.  I now live on a tiny (212 miĀ²) island in the middle of the Pacific.  Islands are surrounded by water and there are over 40 beaches on our new home.  In my Instagram (IG) Stories, I shared a post about going to the beach and attempting to overcome my fear of water.  I was able to go in, ankle deep, and hang out while my hubs went out much further to enjoy the water.

I’ve heard it said that “Fear not” appears in the scriptures 365 times; once for every day of the year.  Though I am a believer fear still grips my heart when I think of going into the water.  How do I reconcile this fear with the command to not fear.  I remember that God wants what is best for me:

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28

I remember that fear is a tool of the enemy:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet 5:8

Remember, the enemy is a roaring lion…he WANTS us to be afraid.

It’s also important to remember the basics of language; as far as nouns go:

faith is a feeling, conviction, or belief that something is true or real, not contingent upon reason or justification

fear is (lb) a strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat

So, What ARE We afraid of?

We all fear something.  I’m not afraid of many things, but this one big fear has been life-long and has the potential to be a debilitating limiting belief. Is this fear, aquaphobia, based in real or perceived danger?  In my case, I would say both.  However, I can choose to let that fear paralyze me and keep me from enjoying this amazing tropical paradise, or I can stare that fear down and tell it:

Water, I will not fear you.  My God has already saved me and He calls me by name, beckoning me to look at him in the midst of my fear.  I have been rightly placed exactly where He wants me to be and with that knowledge I will not submit to my fear. Isaiah 43:1 (my Active Meditation paraphrase)

 

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