Karen Osborne

Are you afraid of the dark? Almost everyone is, at some point. Sometimes when we’re young, we’re absolutely convinced that monsters are living under our bed. But, as we grow up, so do the monsters. They move out of the dark corners of our closets and into other parts of our lives.

They show up when we’re lost. They stand around and taunt us when we have to make a class presentation or ask our crush out on a date.

Some people say they’re not afraid of anything. They may not be telling the truth, because everyone is afraid of something. They may not need a night light in their bedroom, but I guarantee that something out there freaks them out.

We often think of fear as something to avoid. The racing pulse and that hollow feeling in your stomach don’t feel fantastic. We spend a lot of time trying not to feel afraid. But fear can be useful.

Fear lets us know when we’re about to do something stupid, or that we’re in danger. Fear told me not to get in the car with my tipsy friend after a college party. Fear told me not to go cliff-jumping where I later learned others were hurt. Fear saved my life once. If I hadn’t been afraid, I would have never gone to the hospital and found the blood clot in my leg.

Maybe if I had been more afraid when walking back to my apartment, I would have been aware of my surroundings and I would not have wandered into the path of a guy with a gun trying to make easy money.

I was so afraid of everything after that. Every time I walked down that street or saw a man who looked like the guy who mugged me, the old fear would awaken. It was awful. I felt like a prisoner in my home, because I was too afraid to go outside. And that’s when fear stopped being my friend and started being something that was holding me back.

Once I started going out again after dark, my fear subsided.

When fear takes over your life, you start seeing monsters everywhere, and that’s no way to live.

These days, people are afraid of a lot of things. They’re afraid of other religions, of sickness, of car accidents, of being fired, of getting bad grades, of foreigners, of public speaking, of spiders, of not being perfect, roller coasters, dogs, needles, heights, thunderstorms, or death.

But if you allow yourself to be ruled by all of these fears, you’d never leave your house.

Look back on your childhood and objectively say that now you know there were no monsters under your bed. Next time you are afraid, ask yourself: Is this telling me something useful, or is it just holding me back from being the person God wants me to be?

Don’t be afraid of the dark. Listen to your fear, but don’t let it run your life.