Faith or Fear

Not too long ago, I was at a wedding and got into a conversation with a fellow guest. At first the conversation was general, but eventually it moved towards more spiritual topics, and he made the comment, “We [humans] have two choices- to live in faith or to live in fear. While one exists the other must naturally subside.”

That theme, faith or fear, has been resonating with me ever since.

See, I am not a naturally brave person. I’m a somewhat anxious person, who generally gets annoyed by said anxiousness and decides to overcome it. Like by being afraid of public speaking, I decided to try out (and sing) the National Anthem for a local baseball team. Or by being naturally shy, get a job that literally demanded I walk up to random strangers. Or you know, ride cross country.

I guess it’s worth noting my longtime/alltime favorite Bible verse also deals with this theme, Joshua 1:9.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Besides dealing with the common (or not) fears of real life, I think about this verse a lot when dealing with horses. As any horseperson knows, getting hurt around horses is not a matter of if, but when. Coming back from those trials of physical or mental injury can be more than tough, and this is where the idea of choosing faith or fear comes into play.

When I was 5 years old, I was leading my fluffy shetland pony Gomez back to his field, with my dad walking alongside. Apparently I hadn’t been walking as quickly as Gomez preferred, so (and the details are fuzzy) he kicked me in the stomach and ran off to his pasture.

For years after that, while I still loved horses, I was a very unconfident rider who was always afraid that the horse would take matters into his own hands. It wasn’t until much, much later that I learned to trust a horse and really let go, have fun. Now looking back on all those years of being scared, I’m sad for the moments and the training that I missed out on for having been too timid.

This in itself is what led me to eventing. The pursuit of a sport so dangerous, but so rewarding for its connection to the horse and being so closely tied to such physical prowess was the absolute opposite of anything I would have done before, but I had to give it a try. And each time I would enter that start box on cross country, I’d get scared. I’d pray. I would literally hope to God that we came through the finish flags unscathed. And then I’d start galloping, feeling the thrill of running across the country and the abilities of my horse leaping over the obstacles, and let the happiness take over.

Choosing faith over fear has meant to me, now that it’s been over 10 years since I started eventing, that my training should reflect that. I try and set myself up for being over prepared before entering a competition, so that the choice of faith comes a little more naturally since it has been a part of the process all along. It’s not a perfect process, and I have made mistakes along the way, or regressed and chosen fear, but then it’s all part of the journey.

And as long as I can, despite each inevitable trial, every setback, every down moment, I hope I will not lose site of choosing faith instead of fear.


11 thoughts on “Faith or Fear

  1. I LOVE that verse too, and it’s something I also think about when I’m on XC! Another good one is 2Timothy 1:7 – “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” Choosing faith over fear is HARD and something that needs to be worked on every day.

  2. I’m an atheist so I don’t go to the bible, but I go to music a lot, and to sports psychology, to get the same thing done. My little Mo (who is competing at elementary which is NOT scary, but who I hope will go all the way up the levels–talk about faith, hey?) has his own playlist. I listen to it in the car all day before a show. It’s a similar thing, I think, about getting in your own best headspace. I like Jane Savoie for this, too. From her I got the idea to repeat something to myself, like “I have the most talented horse here” or “My horse and I have a special relationship” or “My horse loves XC” or whatever. It makes things positive, it helps me envision a really good outcome, and it pushes aside any thought that he might say no and leave me lying around on course. There’s no room for that in my head between the music and the mantra, if that’s what it is.

    • Certainly the idea of choosing the mantra you live by could transcend any belief system. Like you said, it could be about focusing on the positive just as much as anything else.

  3. i’m also not particularly religious – but ‘faith’ (in a more general sense) is something i think about a lot. and trust. mostly it’s in myself – the work i did to prepare, the time i spent training, the knowledge my various trainers have poured into me. trust and faith that i have the tools necessary to complete the task. that ‘we can do this.’

    it all boils down to the same concept tho – choosing to believe that we can, vs giving in to the fear. and i think making that choice is a critical part of success in the long run

    • Last sentence- yes, definitely. And if we believe we can and yet fail, knowing that there will be a lesson learned or that personal growth will be a result of that even still.

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