Full of Fear: An American Existential Crisis
I get asked all the time, “How do you do what you do?” The question is followed by, “I could never do that! Sit and listen to peoples’ problems all day. It would depress me.” I respond. “Of course you could!” And I do believe that most people, if they had to, could do what I do. Yes, I’ve had years of training and education in my field. But I don’t see that as any different than most jobs. Now if I were an astronaut or professional athlete, my tune would be different. There are clearly inherent traits present in those professions that not everyone has, like IQ and muscle structure. For instance, a close friend of mine used to be a Navy pilot. He had 20/10 vision until he was in his late 50’s. Talk about an eagle eye! Because of his vision he was able to pass rigorous physical requirements to become a fighter pilot. Something I would have never been able to do because of my mediocre vision! I can barely see the broad side of a barn the older I get, and I’m only 38!
Furthermore, if I really believed I’m doing something no one else can do, my whole counseling system would fall apart. Because I spend my days training people to do what I do. To think deeply about themselves, to be honest in their communication with their spouse, and to press on in the midst of emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain. I have to believe most people can do what I do because I want them to do it. I want them to press into the darkness of their relationships, the darkness in their own hearts, and to overcome it. I want them to face their biggest fears and prevail!
That’s important for you to know because in my estimation, 2020 has been the year for fear. My hope for 2021 is that we learn to manage it. Our country’s election is in turmoil. Our world is being scared and scarred by a virus. Our access to unbiased information is negligible, and much of the information we are receiving is fear on steroids. Our social support systems have been made impotent by decades of social media, spiritual ineptitude, family dysfunction, and moral failures. It’s not so much that 2020 delivered unprecedented atrocities like no other year. Our country was born in the face of divisive politics. Our grandparents and great grandparents fought and overcame several infectious diseases. We’ve prevailed during uncertain times before, and we can do it again. But we must conquer our fears and move through our current existential crisis. Inevitably there will be those who are unable, or unwilling, to do so. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
2020 being the year for fear, I spent a lot of time reflecting on Scripture and my psychological training. Two points came to light. First, the Bible spends a significant amount of time talking about fear and overcoming it. Second, the Existentialists were right. Fear of death, fear of freedom, fear of isolation, and fear of meaninglessness are built deep into each of our psyches. And if you do not overcome these 4 fears, you succumb to anxiety and depression. It’s that simple. Two of these fears have wreaked havoc on our nation this year. But all of them are at play.
Fear of Death
Don’t be fooled by the whimsical commercials and scantily clad models telling you to “stay young” and “you can live forever”. You will not live forever. At least not this side of heaven.
When I was a young boy I had a recurring nightmare that I would die and cease to exist. I was afraid to go to sleep for fear I would not wake up. The thought of no longer thinking, no longer existing, sent me into a panic. If I were honest with you, sometimes it still does. As I’ve lain awake at night contemplating my day, a brief flash of a thought will resurrect the same old fear that kept me from sleep some 30 years ago. I immediately do two things—I recall a lecture from seminary, and I recall the hope of my faith.
The lecture was a gut punch in the best of ways. A favorite prof of many a Dallas Seminary student, Dr. Glenn Kreider, changed the way I thought about death forever. “Death is not our friend!” He exclaimed. “Death is our enemy; it has been and always will be!” For many years I’d contemplated death as a release, as a way to get out of the pain and turmoil of the present. I won’t lie that for much of my teenage life and early 20’s I’d wished for it in some form. I wanted to be in heaven, and I wanted to experience what the Bible says is a new earth free from unrighteousness, a place where there is no death. But hearing Dr. Kreider that day I realized the selfish ambition inherent in such a wish, and how fear was twisting my logic. Death is not good, and it never will be. So because of my faith, I now find meaning in helping point people to life. The reality of death is painful and scary, but it is something we must all face. My faith gives me the ability to face it. In fact, I would rather die having my faith and it not be true, than to live my life as though it weren’t. Because it gives me peace. It brings me solace knowing I have no control over the present, and I have no way of stopping or creating more time. The Apostle Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing.” And that is what I intend to do.
Fear of Freedom
One of my favorite verses of Scripture is Galatians 5:1. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” So naturally it was odd for me to consider that fear of freedom was a real thing. Turns out I had not been responsible for all that much growing up. Freedom is terrifying for many because responsibility cannot be separate from it. The two are irrevocably linked, otherwise they lose their substance and are defrauded in every sense. A person who is free is responsible to the outcomes of their choices. A person who desires to live in a free society is likewise responsible to and affected by the choices of others living in their freedom. Which is why it is imperative that a free people be a moral people. As the famous French diplomat Alex de Tocqueville penned, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Of course, there are differing opinions on what is moral. And the concept of morality and freedom will often devolve into arguments. So let’s try and put this fear into a picture we can all resonate with.
Do you ever remember playing chase as a child? This is my youngest daughter’s favorite game right now. I’ll be holding her and trying to accomplish something like putting on her clothes or getting her ready for bed. She will wiggle out of my grasp and take off as fast as she can. She’s free, and the chase is on! What’s funny is she will pause when she’s about 5 or 6 feet away. She’ll stop fleeing, look back, and make sure that I’m coming after her. She wants to be chased.
The other day we had some spare time, and I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything too important, so I gave into her game. I chased her around the hallway, and she thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But then I played a trick on her. I disappeared behind a wall. When she turned around to make sure I was chasing her, I wasn’t there. I watched from a distance as panic quickly set in on her face. She immediately began to cry. She enjoyed the exhilaration of freedom, and the chase, but when left to her own devices the game quickly lost its value, and fear set in.
Now magnify that for 2020. Fear has set in, and all of us are looking for something or someone bigger than ourselves to pop out from behind the wall and let us know it’s going to be okay. For some it’s the government, for some it’s God, or maybe a mixture of both. Again, my answer is to turn to my faith. God promises to be a refuge in the midst of life’s storms. And as King David noted, it is better to take refuge in God than people. Don’t misunderstand me. My faith does not stop a virus from spreading. I don’t intend for it to. My faith reassures me. It comforts me. When the world is going haywire, I know my Father is watching. He sees me looking around in panic and insecurity. And I know it will only be a matter of time before he comes to me, wraps me up and says, “I’ve got you.”
There’s a sign in our guest bath that reads, “WASH YOUR HANDS AND SAY YOUR PRAYERS, ‘CUZ JESUS & GERMS ARE EVERYWHERE.” I loved it before the pandemic, and I love it even more now. It’s a great reminder to me that I washed my hands before it was cool, and that God was in control before I had ever even heard of COVID-19.
I’m no virologist. I’ve spent the last 20 years learning and studying human behavior, and the last 11 years trying to teach people how to change it. That’s how I know fear can make people do and say crazy things—things you never thought they’d be capable of doing. Unless your head’s been in the sand for 10 months, you know it now too.
The famous psychologist Jordan Peterson said, “In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive.” Throughout my professional life I’ve found this to be true as well. I’ve offended clients in the course of therapy. To say the least, it’s uncomfortable for me. But the conversations it produces are irresistible, because I know one of us is going to grow from the experience. If I’m right, and it’s them, I’m doing my job. If I’m wrong, and it’s me, I’m doing my job even better. I say this because it’s time we start to risk being offensive for the sake of truth. It’s time we all start conversations and STAY in conversations that make us uncomfortable. Let 2021 be the year we learn to talk again. We learn to compromise again. We learn to develop our faith in God and not in man. Let 2021 be the year we conquer our fears. It is the only way we will force ourselves to think, and by doing so we will develop the courage to overcome.
Happy New Year! And may God bless you and your family.
What a year! We want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of our donors who contributed during 2020 to support us through their generosity. We are grateful to you for making it possible for others to find hope and healing.
Thank you, Sara Glasgow, David Glasgow, Vanessa Hereth, for your very generous annual gift.
A special thanks to Stone Amp SEO for your new recurring gift commitment.
EPR Properties we are thankful for your matching gifts on behalf of ZoAnn Peace, Tisha Gildehaus, Rachel Tovey, Lauren Compton & Annie Brunetti.
We are grateful to the Tom & Kathy Rohr Family Foundation for your first-time gift that will help make a lasting impact in the lives of so many.
Church of the Four Corners, you continue to go above and beyond with your generosity and we are forever grateful.
The Bob & Candy White Foundation, your annual gift makes it possible for someone in need to receive much needed counseling.
Thank you, Rem Corp LLC, Andre Fantasma, Nathan Dunahee & Katherine Pearson for your first-time gifts. We are beyond grateful for your generosity.
A special Thank You to our faithful monthly supporters: Brandon & Vanessa Blanchard, Jenny Glasgow, Craig & Samantha Compton, Roger & Jennifer Madsen, John & Vicki Hefner, Tamara Stroud, Church at Coffee Creek, John Otradovec, Zane & Melissa Morerod, Matt & Kristy Newton, Jondy & Heather Britton, Rick & Jan Britton, Jeff Cherry, Nancy Shea, Diane Smith, Rick & Kathy Daulton, Scott & Lydia Hurley, Kevin Quinn, Dan & Gigi Rippee, Mike & Tracy Pruitt, Lee & Debbie Miller, Linda Hartman, Lone Jack Baptist Church, Brent & Amanda Miller, Clayton & Pam Wooldridge, Don & Linda Pearce, Demi Raveill, Stan & Deb Oglesby, Greg & Karen Miller, Jon & Naomi Thompson, Vox Dei Community, Jon Brody, and Greg & Jennifer Spears.
We appreciate you!
Thank you so much to every participant of our 1st Annual Christmas Lottery. We sold a total of 274 tickets and together we were able to raise $18,000. This fundraiser was so much fun and we look forward to continuing this tradition in 2021.
Thank you to Lauren Compton, Mark Thompson, Annie Brunetti, Evan Lange, Mark Tovey, Jacob Sanders, Andre Fantasma, Bobbie-Jo Starritt, Ron Green, Kiran Worcester, Joe Morrow, Bob Thull, Kim Fritchie, Lauri Phillips, Rick & Edie Brattin, Megan Bogener, Amie Wilson, Nancy Shea, Jeremy Radford, Drew Davis, Chris Courtney, Ted Koehler, Tonja Reynolds, Nick Link, Pamela Sandler, Berta Flynn, Jason Onka, Michelle Yarnall, Leslie Krueger, Pam Wooldridge, Eugene McEwen, Jodie Huston, Nancy Greimann, Jeff Hagan, Brad Krzysztow, Sarah Somasegaran, Chris Ragain, Ronnee Schweizer, Ryan & Keri Horn, Rebecca Hill, Oluchi Ojinnaka-Taylor, Micah Hefner, Brittany Emily, Seth Reising, Dan Henks, Wendy Marconett, Butch & Karen Bellis, Larry Jones, Jeff Cherry, Libby Morrow, Sandra Kaderly, Dana White, Matt Newton, Jondy & Heather Britton, Phil Rydman, Christy Perisho, Wild Child Resale, Jill Sheets, Mike Medsker, Rusty Fracassa, Jesse Masson, Kevin Clipp, Shane Gardner, Rachel Kauffman, Denea McMillin, David Rogers, Taylor Ramsey, Christa Castro, Cary Corley, Jeff Driskill, Cheryl Julo, Walt Disney and Zarda Foods for your December raffle ticket purchases.
Not sure how you can get involved? Contact our Director of Development, Athena Brattin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816.272.0653 to find out how you can join our team of Partners. To make a donation through our website, please click on the link below.
In March 2021, Jersey Mike’s will again join forces with Peace Partnership for the Month of Giving campaign which raises money for hundreds of charities coast to coast in 31 days. We are honored to be the designated non-profit of Jersey Mike’s Subs in Blue Springs. The month-long fundraising will culminate on Wednesday, March 31st, with Jersey Mike’s nationwide “Day of Giving.”
On March 31st Peace Partnership will receive 100% of the day’s sales. Check back frequently for more information and to place your order. Also, watch our Facebook page for other Month of Giving promotions and sales.
Get your team together, because you won’t want to miss our 1st Annual Sporting Clay Tournament coming May of 2021. You may have heard of sporting clays, referred to as golf with a shotgun, and that’s a fair comparison. We are looking forward to a great event at the top-notch facility, Powder Creek in Lenexa.
Check back frequently for more information and to register your team. Also, watch our Facebook page for more information.
Save the Date for our 5th Annual Golf Classic on Thursday, September 23, 2021. This is a sold-out event every year, so start getting your team together. Registration opens on January 1, 2021.
To secure your team or to become an event sponsor, click here.
2021 Golf Tournament Silent Auction Packages Needed!
Peace Partnership would like to invite you, your friends, family, or small group to create a package for our 2021 Silent Auction. Your package will help us raise funds so we can continue to help those in need, by providing quality mental health care at affordable rates to an underserved community. We are also accepting other new donated items for our silent auction.
How Do I Make A Silent Auction Package?
Pick a “theme” for your package.
Ask each participant to bring an item that fits the theme.
Items can be merchandise, gift cards, entertainment, services, etc.
The package should be valued at $50 or more.
Here Are Some Ideas To Get You Started!
Amazon Gift Card
Country Club Plaza Gift Card
Date Night Package
Car Guru Package
For questions or package drop off, please contact Athena Brattin at email@example.com or call 816-272-0653.