Do you know someone who is scary? You know, the kind of person who takes up a lot of space in the room. They’re intimidating. Their voices are loud. Words are strong.
Sometimes it’s the person you would least expect. It seems out of character. They aren’t like that in every day life, but something gets triggered and they suddenly look scary. What happened?
I wonder if it’s because they’re scared.
When we get scared, our behavior changes. Some of us hide, shrink back, disappear. But many of us get louder, stronger, and more controlling. We get big because we feel small.
I know I do it. It’s my way of covering what I fear.
It’s like the Wizard of Oz, crying, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” You know, the one furiously attempting to make himself look bigger than he is. The one projecting a scary image while in reality he is cowering where you can’t see him. Maybe then no one will notice that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t have what it takes. He’s scared out of his wits. Fear keeps him hidden, afraid to lose the relationship, his reputation, a sense of control.
Scary might make us feel protected, but it actually isolates us. It keeps others from seeing what is going on inside, and blocks the doorway for them to help us address what we fear. Scary keeps us scared.
What’s our invitation instead?
It helps me to remember anger is a secondary emotion. Like I said, we get big when we don’t want to feel small. Anger makes us feel bigger than the fear. When we recognize a rage that’s driving us to look scary, it’s a good signal to stop and examine our hearts. What are we afraid of? What feels threatened? When we own what it is that makes us scared, we can confront it, instead of pretending than we are bigger or stronger than we are.
Often we can’t overcome that fear on our own. We need others to step in and walk with us.
So we need to set down the scary mask and invite others in. Pull back the curtain and admit what is true. “I don’t know what to do. This is overwhelming. I feel weak, exposed, needy. I’m afraid of what’s happening here.”
The irony of the Wizard is that when he pulls back the curtain, he can offer so much more. Intimacy increases as he steps out from behind the scary image. Solutions are found. Relationships strengthen. Fear dissipates. We don’t have to be scary.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”