I remember a sense of relief sweeping over me as I turned each page. It was the dead of winter, 2011, and I couldn’t put the book down. It was as if the author was speaking directly to me. The author was John Eldredge and the book was Wild At Heart.
While I can’t remember the specific title of the chapter, I remember clearly what he was talking about- the fear of being found out. Being exposed as a big fat poser. Suddenly finding yourself standing in the midst of everyone you hold dear to your heart and knowing that they know who you really are.
It’s a fear that nearly every man has. It’s a fear that cuts our hearts as husbands and fathers. It’s a fear that I have fought with tooth and nail over the past 18 years. If you’re a man and you’re nodding in agreement right now, you’re in good company.
Personally I am there with you. I have some big fears. Sometimes they are all-consuming. Sometimes, they cloud my mind and interrupt my day. Here are some of the biggest:
The fear of failure.
This really is the biggest fear every man faces, especially if he has a family that depends on him. I’m attacked by this fear nearly every day I’m alive. I don’t want to fail my wife and kids and I take it pretty hard when I feel that I have. It is wired into our DNA as men to want to succeed. We’re not driven to succeed by chance. It’s in our make-up. And it’s also in our make-up to feel devastation when we fail.
The fear of fraud.
I fear being exposed as a fraud. I bet you do too. As men, when our thoughts betray us, or our attitudes are unbecoming, or we’re short-tempered, we’re afraid that those who depend on us, or look to us for guidance, will discover that we are fake. Every time I lose my temper in front of my children this fear pounces on me.
The fear of forgotten.
This is the fear that one day our children won’t call us or want to hang out with us anymore. It’s a fear that our wives will get tired of our insecurities and want something better. It’s the fear that one day we will stand alone in our house and wish we could go back in time to the happy moments of the pictures in our hallways and choose to do things differently.
The fear of loss.
You and I fear losing everything. We fear making one bad choice that throws it all away.
The fear of nothingness.
We work hard. We work for our families. We want the best for our children. We fear waking up one day and having nothing to show for our lives. We fear looking at our children and having nothing to offer them anymore. We fear spending all of our time on meaningless things that we have nothing to give to our wives.
This is heavy. Fear is real.
My goal is honesty and openness with this post. When you discover that others deal with the same struggles you do, there’s healing. But there’s also hope. The biggest question I wrestled with a few years ago was “How?” How do I overcome the fears I have. How do I move past them?
For me personally, the answer has come through trusting that my Heavenly Father is holding my every moment. That He holds my life and that He is in control. Believing this has brought about an immeasurable sense of peace and courage to keep moving.
Fear is a natural part of life. In fact, in this life, we will never be without fear because we are human. But a lot of what we fear is the substance of our own making. A lot of what I fear is really in my imagination. I’ve conjured it up. It’s not real. I don’t have to fear being exposed if I’m living an authentic life built on forgiveness and integrity. If I’m investing the majority of my life in my wife and children, I never have to fear being forgotten or having nothing.
We overcome our fears when we choose to live in-spite of them. Facing something you’re afraid of and putting your focus on success instead of failure helps you to overcome. It’s helped me. When I intentionally choose to do this, I find success. Letting our pride and ego go, and choosing humility also goes a long way. This is a constant fight for me because it is so counter-culture to what our world pushes us to do as men.
But, it’s the very thing our families need the most. They need us, as their husbands and fathers, to be fully engaged in their lives and to fight for them. When this becomes top priority, we will find the strength to defeat our fears, and the courage we need to lead the people we love the most.
As a man, or husband, or father, what are some of your fears? How are you overcoming them?