The question was stated, “How do you get rid of fear?” In the responses you would have heard various mixtures of fight and flight. In this case the fear is relational. Trust is broken. The community is divided. When relationships are fractured how do we restore them. We ask “why?” or we explore how we got here and who’s to blame. But ultimately fear is not owned by the one who is feared, but by the one who fears.

Sometimes the fear is prejudice and unjustified perception and the one who is feared has no knowledge or control of their actions and attributes that inspire fear. At other times, they have learned how to inspire fear to manipulate and control their environment. Regardless, the one who fears owns the fear.

So how do you overcome relational fear? You can punish the person who is feared, however despite the catharsis it does not alleviate or eliminate the fear. You can get away from the feared one and never interact with them, yet again this only reduces the acuity of the fear and it still remains. The only effective option is to confront the fear. This is often fulfilled through communication; through interaction with the feared one. This will take courage despite the fear.

Sometimes this isn’t possible. The person cannot be reached but they are still given power over your identity and security. It is here that we see the boldness of the teachings of Jesus. In this circumstance, we can be liberated from that fear by love and forgiveness. It is not easy, but as it is said, “nothing worth doing is ever easy.”

Courage is not the absence of fear but the decision to act despite the fear. Likewise, faith is not the absence of doubt but the confidence despite the doubt. May you discover how forgiveness can be more for the one who forgives than the one forgiven. May you stand with the millions throughout history who acted despite their fear and believed despite their doubts. Those who loved significantly and forgave generously.

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