The world can be a rather scary place, with danger lurking in unexpected places. When I was ten years old, I shared a newspaper route with my older sister. I would cover the houses on one side of the street while my sister took care of the other side. One day, as I was about to cross the street, a man approached in a van, slowed to a stop, and called out to me, asking what newspaper I was delivering. Never mind the fact that I carried a bright yellow bag with the inscription “The Advertiser” in big letters. I went over to the vehicle and handed the man a paper. He seemed more interested in me than the paper, however. He tried to engage me in conversation – until another car began coming up behind him. That was a rather busy street, after all. The man drove off then and I continued with my paper route without another thought – until my sister asked me why I had stopped beside the vehicle. At that point, I realized that something felt odd about the whole incident. I had heard of kidnapping before, but it seemed like only a vague danger until that day.
There are noticeable dangers. There are also silent, sneaking ones. Once, a family friend was nearly taken by carbon monoxide poisoning. In a world where scary things happen every day, how are we to cope? How can we go through life without being afraid of our own shadow?
How can I handle the possibility that during my trip to the grocery store, I might be robbed – or that when I leave my car in the parking lot, it might be vandalized – or that on my way home, I might be caught in a car accident? Maybe it is safer to stay at home. Perhaps I should stay inside and try not to think about my chances of encountering a slippery floor – or salmonella – or a burglary – or fire. Well, I guess bad things can happen anywhere, at any time. This is a scary thought. I think I'll spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. At least this way, I can see trouble coming... sometimes.
On second thought, maybe I'll take a different approach to life's uncertainties. I'll take a jog even though someone might try to harm me. I'll drive my car even though people sometimes run red lights. I'll learn to swim, even though I nearly drowned once. And I won't live in fear.
Living without fear doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want, blissfully oblivious of the consequences. It doesn't mean you should jog at night, drive a car through a bad storm, or swim against strong currents. Living without fear means going through your day with your eyes open, being aware of both good and bad circumstances, and being ready to face whatever comes your way. You realize that bad things happen, but you don't let this knowledge consume your thoughts. Instead of nervously thinking, “What if...”, you calmly live in the present. And when nighttime rolls around, instead of thinking, “Oh my, is something moving in my closet?” or “Look at the clock! Another hour has gone by without me going to sleep,” you think: “Well, I had a long day at work, but now I get to take it easy.” And before you know it, you're fast asleep. Tomorrow you will be fresh and ready to bravely take on a new day.