By Susan Stone

The acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is paralyzing. Fear is contagious. Fear compromises our health and it isn’t even real.

Notice right now an invisible hoola-hoop around your waist. Notice that everything inside the hoola-hoop is just fine. Your personal space is good…nothing wrong is happening inside the hoop right now. NOW is the key. Just notice how good it feels to have nothing wrong right now in this moment. If God could give you a watch, it would say NOW. It’s the only time we have. A second ago it was then and second from NOW isn’t even here yet.

Most fear is either a memory of the past or a projection of future. We are afraid of what might happen, or of what happened before. None of it is happening inside your hoola-hoop right now…unless it is… fear, a natural response to danger. We are wired to do the impossible when we really need it. Adrenalin is a powerful drug. Fear has a function, but we’re wearing it out. It’s like the old story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. After so many false alarms, help didn’t come. We can literally wear ourselves out with worry.

Unless you are in a fight or flight situation, fear is not healthy and it clouds our judgment. There is a peace in knowing that you are safe…right now inside your hoola-hoop. From this position of personal power you can be more effective to help the situations you are concerned about. I know there is a lot going on around the world and I send them my prayers. I’m not helping by jumping in to the mire with them.

We think the adrenalin junkies are the risk takers. Those brave souls who join the Special Forces or jump out of perfectly good airplanes, but the real junkies are the ones who are glued to the news and those who wring their hands over situations they cannot control. A continuous stream of what has happened, followed by what could happen next is enough to drain our energy and make us tired at the very least or afraid to leave our own home in extreme cases.

I heard a beautiful quote in a sermon last week by Frederick Buechner; “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

It’s true…beautiful and terrible things happen every day and always have. Can you remember a time when you were at peace, a time when you felt safe in the world? It doesn’t matter how long ago. In that moment in whatever year it was, when you were feeling particularly good, terrible things were happening in the world at the very moment. So it is possible. You can have a glorious life, a wonderful day, a safe and peaceful sleep…even now. Nothing has changed except you. Feeling scared or angry or full of worry does nothing to help the situation you are concerned about. It only takes a toll on you and your poor body. That takes us back to our hoola-hoop. You can and do control everything inside that space. Everything that fits inside of your hoola-hoop is yours to control. You can control your thinking, your attitude, your speech and your actions. And that is where your control ends. Everything outside your hoola-hoop is the world.

There is a beautiful peace inside your hoop…can you feel it? Pause for a moment right now to notice it. Doesn’t it feel good to notice that everything is really okay in there? When the world tries to pull you out of your hoop, pull back. Get back inside, where it’s safe. Ahhhh, all is well.