Today I was at school, substituting where I once taught. It was a math class, and I’m an English teacher, so there wasn’t much I could do but hand out the practice test. I watched them work. I watched the concentration on most of their faces, and the defeat on some of the others. I even saw disregard some of the time, but with my teaching background I knew that the disregard was a false bravado for fear of failure.

As I thought about that fear of failure, I began thinking about things that we fear at one time or another, and I thought about what would happen if we let fear stop us too many times. There would be fewer marriages and fewer children. There’d be fewer promises made and, of course, fewer kept. There would be fewer risks taken, so people might drive less, surely fly less, and what would we miss because of it? I know if I’d let my fear of traveling alone to half a world away rule me, I would never have seen where Daughter #2 and her family had made their (temporary) home in Malaysia. If I’d let the fear of homesickness stop me, I never would have moved halfway across our country long ago as a newlywed only married a month. Daughter #1 would be a Louisiana baby instead of a California girl, although to her it doesn’t matter. We moved home when she was still in diapers.

I’m sure we all have our own list of fears and triumphs over them. What opportunities are missed by fear of the unknown? It’s a question to be pondered. After all, fear isn’t going anywhere. There are fears coming that I will face. The future guarantees me I will be afraid some of the time. Fear comes in all forms and shapes, whether fear about our health or fear for our children. We all deal with fear. The question isn’t whether there will ever be something to make us fearful. The question is how will we face those fears.

I want to think that as I’ve aged, I’ve become more accepting of taking calculated risks, more accepting of trusting life, trusting myself. trusting God. I can only hope the next time something fearful comes my way, I can deal with it as a true veteran and put it in its place.

For the students with a fear of failure, stop letting the fear keep you from trying. Stop letting the fear win.