A large number of the sermon messages here in Redmond-Bend this year have dealt in some fashion with the issue of courage. I do not consider myself a particularly brave person, although one area of courage that I do possess is a fierce and sincere desire not to live in fear. I want to know what level of dangers in my life are realistic and which fears are irrational. Naturally, given the course my own life has taken over the last year or so, I have also become very interested in doing what I can to help make sure as best as I am able (which sadly, is not very well) in helping people overcome any sort of irrational fears about me, given that the sort of fear I have seen directed at me has been very alarming to me, and a destructive element in my life that has led to a great deal of frustration.
I have spent so much of my life living in fear that it has taken me a long time to understand just how anyone could be afraid of me. I suppose it could be said that people have probably been afraid of me for a long time, but being somewhat self-absorbed, I was only able to see my own fears and my own concerns and not those of other people. Knowing myself, and being well acquainted with my own anxieties, my own timidity in certain aspects of life, my own grim struggle of endurance against the darkness of my own background, I could not fathom how anyone could find sufficient reason to be frightened of little old me. Even today, knowing at least how someone could be afraid of me, it is still baffling and frustrating.
What happens when someone fears someone else irrationally? When people are afraid, they tend to respond by protecting themselves from potential harm and shut down communication with the person they are afraid of, because of course they intend harm and are plotting some kind of mischief and mayhem. People who are afraid read every word and action from others as a sign of intentional wickedness, and quite frankly I am not the sort of person whose words are capable of handling that kind of strain, given the fact that I am a very anxious person myself who cares greatly about other people and greatly desires both open communication and good relations with just about everyone to the greatest extent possible commensurate with honesty and integrity. So long as people are able to appreciate my open honesty and respond appropriately, the odds of successful interaction are high.
Unfortunately, that is not a universal quality, and so I am faced with a vexing question as to how to help someone overcome irrational fears in an environment where there is no open communication. Given that I am a person who depends a lot on both words as well as tone and friendly nonverbal communication that ought to make it clear the absence of threatening intent towards others, even if I wish it to be entirely understood that I possess the resources and the will to defend myself against aggressors, it is a difficult matter to convey the absence of threatening intent when there is no trust and where everything is read in an unfriendly manner. The fact that I have had to deal with very serious crises of this matter in a short time suggests that this problem is one that I have to solve for my own good.
Therefore, I have a modest proposal for those people who are currently afraid of me or involved in some kind of impasse where communication is lacking. First, I would like to request from all such parties a list of any sort of grievances or alleged offenses against me. This list should be as specific as possible, and it can be given via spoken or written form, although if it is given in spoken form I would like to be able to write it down. If a person does not feel safe around me personally in order to resolve things face to face, then I also propose that a mutually acceptable witness or witnesses may be chosen to demonstrate the good faith of all parties in seeking reconciliation and justice rather than any sort of bias or coercion. Likewise, I propose that the end result of any sort of communication should be a mutual coming to terms with mutual respect and mutual consideration, with the best case scenario being a formal or informal covenant.
I do not wish for anyone to drop out of life or to hide away from me because of any sort of fears. I have no desire to hurt or harm anyone, and though I must admit that I am not a perfect person, I am certainly an honorable and decent person. To be treated as some sort of leper that cannot be touched or some sort of threatening monster is unacceptable and unjust. Given that I am a reasonable and decent person, I submit to those who have a fear of me to a process of mutual discussion (in the presence of witnesses if it is needed for others to feel safe) with the goal of reducing tensions, reducing fear, and making life more pleasant and peaceful and less stressful for all parties involved. Let us not live in fear, but rather, let us live according to truth in peace and love to the greatest extent possible.