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Gentle Virtues

Fear in Disguise

05/01/2012 - Some years ago, near harvested cotton fields and peanut crops, my family and I attended a Mardi Gras parade. Horns blared, kids squealed and packaged moon pies flew in every direction along with colorful beads, toys and kazoos. It was sensational.

Prior to attending the parade, we saw a young gentleman wearing a festive mask coming out of an ice cream parlor. His mask was as mesmerizing as his double decker ice cream cone. Its big comers all "swirly¬swooped" complemented his playful smile. It was a good thing he had a snappy gait and quickly disappeared into the crowd or I would have asked him to lift his mask for us.

Lately I have been looking under masks but not at Mardi Gras parades. I have been lifting the masks worn over certain words. Lo and behold, I have discovered fear in disguise.

Three words bear such masks. They are anxiety, timidity and jealousy. Anxiety "disturbs the mind and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness". Noah Webster, in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, reveals its source - fear (anxiety, def. 1). Timidity comes from the Latin root word "timeo" which literally means "to fear" and fearful it is. Lastly, jealousy is that "peculiar uneasiness which arises from the fear that a rival may rob us of the affection of one whom we love .. or that another does or will enjoy some advantage which we desire for ourselves" (jealousy def.1). Wanting to control our reasoning and our lives, fear invites us to be anxious, timid and jealous.

Fear is bossy. It barks out orders like "Bite your nails. Wring your hands. Expect the worst. Wince. Shudder. Look down. Suspect. Mistrust. Control others." Fear is relentless and it will boss you around 24/7 if you let it.

Fear hides its true nature and it hides its one true fear. Fear fears faith, its one opposition. Faith comes from the Latin root word "fido" which means "to trust". It too is the root word for faithfulness, fidelity, confiding, and confidence. In the Greek language, faith "draws toward" whereas fear, in the Saxon language, "drives away". Faith allows us to be intimate while fear forces us to be intimidated. Faith helps us trust and have confidence. Fear shrieks at such a thought.

Living with fear is no party. It doesn't toss moon pies, necklaces, toys and kazoos. Instead it hurls doubt, unbelief and false accusations. Friend, choose faith not fear. It is the more peaceful and joyful way to live.

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