The Solution to Fear
What does it mean to be ready for the unexpected, traumatic violent encounter? Not just how to correctly respond in an emergency, mind you, or how to survive one, or even how to prevent one. I’m talking about something more powerful: how to live every breath and heartbeat without fear.
It is astonishing what happens to the human body under extreme amounts of traumatic stress, especially when facing interpersonal violence. The sad reality is that violent situations are dramatically escalating in the west. There is no assured way to prevent them. No way to avoid them. No way to physically prepare for them.
It is a problem that begs only one solution, a solution that whispers to us in every unique facet of our lives: We must be confident of who we are in light of a greater vision.
Uniquely in my profession, I get to discuss “Spiritual Fitness” as a reality in the world. Workplaces don’t allow it. Businesses avoid it. Human resources are afraid of it. But when a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun is pointed in your face, knowing objectively the vision for your life is the only hope we have.
We must rely on a power that is even stronger than death.
I have felt this power elsewhere in the world, outside of the many violent circumstances I have been in. One of the strongest places I have felt it is in the blacksmith shop, refining average steel into something extraordinary through the intensity of the fire.
For the blacksmith, forging a piece of steel in the fire starts with having a vision. It’s not just a vision of what the steel will become. It’s a vision of yourself.
Being prepared for the critical, unexpected violent event is much the same. It starts with a true vision of yourself and a realistic understanding of this broken world. It requires that you internalize certain truths, develop certain characteristics, and decide ahead of time what role you will play. Will you be a bystander on the sidelines? A victim? A survivor? Or will you be forged through fire until you become fully alive, conditioned to respond effectively even in the worst moments?
Being prepared is dependent upon this vision you have. Our vision gives us strength and forms the calluses on our hands. Those hands, our hands, can represent life or death, freedom or slavery. If we took the time to understand the dynamics of what this vision is, we would understand much more than emergency preparedness. We would finally see who we were meant to be.
So what does it mean to become someone who lives without fear: a companion of peace throughout any trial? Is such a person possible? More importantly, is it possible for me to become that person?
I am not going to lie to you: being prepared is difficult. Physically, emotionally, and mentally it is taxing. It takes energy, time, study, and sustained arduous work. But having a confidence that goes beyond death welded into the core of your being will redefine your soul.
As a blacksmith, I have never mentioned “forging a sword” to an adventurous person whose eyes didn’t light up with a sudden fire. Here is what typically happens next: I invite the aspiring sword-maker to my shop. After a hard day’s work of sweat, blisters, and numerous burns they are satisfied with a somewhat bent-out-of-shape railroad spike they endearingly call a “knife” and treasure for the rest of their days. They rarely come back to try again.
Human beings have certain trends that repeat themselves throughout the human condition. One of the most interesting is our capacity to dream and just as quickly trade in that dream for a quicker, less appealing reality.
This is a typical experience. We glimpse a vision. We feel a passion. Our hearts flicker. But the goal ends up being harder to achieve than we thought. It’s funny how attractive the easy road seems when we face a difficult path. When dreams meet reality, reality tends to get the better of us. The reality is this: being fully alive and prepared for the unexpected violent event is difficult. Like most good things, it takes dedication. And it is absolutely necessary in the day-in-age we live in.
Becoming this sort of man or woman is not a task you will be able to complete on your own. It will require more than a change of attire, or a spurt of untrained enthusiasm that motivates you to start carrying a knife on your ankle.
We’re talking about a change of identity. An honorable man, a true warrior, is a dream most men once revered and then slowly lost as they became submissive, snared, and enslaved to lesser realities. It is a dream that most women have learned to stop searching for entirely. At the same time, women in our culture (and others) have often been subdued, abandoning their dreams to a more prevalent road.
As I look around I realize something you already know to be true: Becoming this type of person, a type of person defined by a greater vision, is a methodology lost to more ancient times.
Do you want to be prepared? To do so, you must wake up and become fully alive again. Do you want to find strength and hope, a reality that has been leached away by the mundane until only a mere whisper remains? Get up and change how you live. Make a choice to live without fear. Find a vision that is even greater than death.
Make no mistake: this vision is not required to survive the violent event, the major disaster, or the devastating tragedy. But is surviving your only aim? Is that the limit of your goal? We need a deeper vision, a vision that stirs us with power whether we will it to or not. I’ll tell you the truth: very few people in this world have the strength to walk through life and into death dependent upon nothing except their own confidence. We need a vision that is more than ourselves. From my own experience, I can say such a vision will make your personal growth swifter and more effective.
I foresee an honest reader saying “Come on! What’s the point of all this personal growth stuff? I can find all I really need to know online and the chances of me being in an active shooter situation are worse than getting struck by lightning! Why am I even reading this?”
I’ve been struck by lightning.
I’ve heard the bullets whistle over my head and watch them strike the people I knew.
Like you, I’ve seen the darkness in the world and wondered what my part to play within it was. I’ve felt an indescribable yearning for something more. You don’t have to be struck by lightning to realize you’re not as in-control of this life as you’d like to think. The only question that remains is this: Will we ignore the pain and brokenness in the world, and truly in ourselves, or will we turn and face it?
If you know, understand, and believe in a greater vision for your life, you can be effective in even the worst moments. Such stark truth may be easy to ignore during the mundane of life: But here and now, when our fears are raised and our hearts are stirred, we must come to terms with the truth.
What kind of vision will you build your life on? As for me, the conclusion is clear. My soul is at rest: fear has no power here. My heart cries out:
"No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny."
Ask the Experts
Q: Should teachers be allowed to carry guns in classrooms?
A: Listen to our team discuss this with KIRO radio here: TTA Radio Interview
Send in your questions or sign up for our monthly insights: email@example.com