I usually don’t tell people not to be afraid. Not because there is no reason to be afraid (sometimes there is) but because fear is irrational. Fear cannot be controlled, it can only be avoided. I worked with animals for a while, and having learned to avoid fear I was pretty good with the more aggressive ones. No matter how tough you are, if fear enters your system animals can tell. None of this is to say that I am fearless, or even brave. I just know when I can allow myself to display fear. With animals, it’s easy (for me), I’m bigger than they are. An animal usually judges how “big” you are by the distance between your eyes and the ground. He knows you’re bigger, and just wants to show that’s he’s dangerous. As long as you remember that you’re bigger, there is nothing to fear. It also helps to “speak” the language, don’t let your language betray your size.
I fear certain things. I fear losing loved ones, because I love them and want them near me. I fear falling (not heights, just falling), so I stay away from places from which I might fall. I fear hurting people, because I have learned that some hurts can’t be undone.
I do not fear death. I have no desire for a painful death, but I have no fear of leaving the living behind. I have a variety of opinions of what my consciousness will experience consist of once my body assumes room temperature, and none of them are frightening. Most are actually attractive.
Jesus speaks of fear in Matthew 10:26-31:
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
There’s a lot going on there. Jesus is advising his apostles that there is nothing they should fear on Earth, damage to the body does not compare to damage to the soul. He tells them that their souls are safe with God.
This would be the definition of bravery. To recognize the danger and also the value of the “reward”. It’s why people run into burning buildings. Without regard, most humans will risk their lives to save another. And that is what Jesus was telling his apostles. They might risk their earthly lives, but they would be saving the eternal lives of others. There was no reason to be afraid, because their eternal lives were safe.
It’s not difficult to be brave. As long as you know what you are, and what you are not, risking. It sounds obvious, but it does require consideration. Consideration ahead of time, so that you’re prepared when the opportunity presents itself. So take a moment now to prepare yourself. Compare the risk and the reward for a couple of things you might hesitate to do.
What risk is involved in telling someone that you love them?
Smiling at a homeless person and looking them in the eye?
Holding the door open for a stranger?
Doing the right thing?
Now you’re ready.
Just do it.