25 things I would do if I didn’t live by fear

by Steve Brock on January 1, 2016

Running with no fearI was going through a few old journals and found some notes I wrote several years ago that seem just as relevant to so many of us today. What follows is not exhaustive nor necessarily applicable to you in all its points. But as we enter a new year, I invite you to read through the list and even add your own items. Most of all, I entreat you to take this seriously and ask yourself each day of this new year how might you live differently, in your travels and your daily routine, if you removed fear from the equation.

If I didn’t live by fear, I would:

  1. Worry less
  2. Tell those I care for how much they mean to me
  3. Serve without expecting acknowledgement or gratitude
  4. Journey by being prepared for but not always ruminating on the worst case scenario
  5. Say “I love you” to those who expect such words from me and those who don’t
  6. Live more in the present
  7. Focus on what matters most in life and share that with far more people
  8. Stand up for and with others
  9. Live in the freedom of not caring what people think but be sensitive not to abuse that freedom
  10. Pray with and for everyone whom I sense needs it
  11. Respect and be more concerned about the feelings of others
  12. Speak the truth in love (and do so out of genuine concern for others and not as an excuse to gossip or vent)
  13. Raise my hands in churches where no one else does and sit quietly in ones where everyone else is shouting on their feet
  14. Travel to more places that make me nervous
  15. Sleep better
  16. Pay attention and listen more
  17. Cry at sad movies and laugh in others even when no one else finds something funny
  18. Let fewer trivial things upset me and be more outraged by real injustice
  19. Give more hugs
  20. Take more risks
  21. Push my limits
  22. Have much larger comfort zones and routinely step outside of them
  23. Celebrate the success of others and be less concerned about my own
  24. Fear only God and trust him to complete what I cannot
  25. Trust God. Period.

If I could nail that last one, I think all the others would take care of themselves. But how about you? What would you add or change on this list?


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When your trip goes awry – Part 4

by Steve Brock on January 25, 2013

Two planes have been denied me so far this day. Third time, hopefully, is indeed the charm.

This plane is one of those smaller ones I tend to collectively classify as a “puddle jumper.” The destination is Houston, a bit larger than your average “puddle.”

It seems as if we’re about to depart but then the flight attendant informs us of an issue.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I think, not one more delay or cancelled flight today.

It turns out the issue is simply the redistribution of weight in the aircraft. After a reluctant passenger moves from row two to row 12 or so, we’re good to go. We take off.

After an uneventful hour and fifteen minute flight, I’m in Houston, the first leg of my journey to Orlando.

I’ve never been here before. This place is huge.

I head toward the departure gate and along the way, I stop at a restaurant and order a BBQ sandwich. This is Texas after all and when in Rome…

BBQ Sandwich

It’s quite tasty (better than it looks in the photo) and in a small acknowledgement to silver linings, I realize I would have missed this meat-lover’s feast had I caught my original flight…or my second one.

On the way here I got to thinking about why missing my flight was so stressful. Now that I’m back in transit, it seems like such a minor issue. Yet at the time, getting on a plane became an all-consuming priority.


My theory: I, as most of us do, fear the unknown. Waiting four hours for a delayed flight is tedium. Waiting, but not knowing when or if you’ll make it on a flight, is panicky. We like to know where we’re going in life, especially in the near term.

But knowing what lies ahead of us is not reality. I realize how blessed I am most of the time to make my connections. Our world, however, isn’t fair: things don’t always go our way and we rarely know what will happen in the next hour, much less the next week, month or year. Today is a reminder of that reality and the larger one, that amidst all this uncertainty, we never travel alone.

I am saved from further ruminations by the announcement that my hopefully last episode of today’s journey is about to board. And so I go.


I have just arrived in Orlando and checked into my hotel room approximately 11 hours since I left the other hotel this morning. I am tired but mostly numb. I remind myself to be grateful that I’m here.

Such is the way of travel that it may take days or even months for me to understand what has happened this day and this trip. Perhaps it means nothing; a trifling inconvenience. No out-of-the-ordinary occurrences happened along the way (although that BBQ sandwich was pretty darned good). No great revelations other than the ad in the airport have hit me. But I suspect more remains to be seen from today than I now can perceive.

I have made it to my destination and for that I am thankful. Not as thankful now, however, as I was when I first heard I had a seat on an outbound plane. That’s sad but oh so typical. Get me out of the crisis and I’m back on autopilot. But if I’ve learned anything today it is this: Even now as I write this, I have another chance to be grateful. To pause and remember the worry and desperation even if I can’t feel them now in the same way I did then. To recall how I felt when I felt deeply. And to not take another breath without giving my Creator thanks for that breath and this whole day however it has gone.

Maybe I don’t need anything more meaningful than that.

To be continued…

If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3 of this series.

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The danger of fear

by Steve Brock on January 10, 2011

Sometimes the small fears - like what might be in this glass - hold us back from what matters most when we travel.

We’ve been looking at the issue of traveling dangerously and the impact that going to locations of profound suffering can have on us. I think most of us retain an idealized part of ourselves that tells us we should go to such places, make a difference and be changed. The only problem is that the less-than-idealized parts of us come up with some pretty convincing arguments as to why staying home or going to the beach make more sense.

I know that for me, comfort gets me in a half-Nelson and starts applying pressure whenever I even think of going somewhere challenging. But comfort is a pushover compared to the one thing that holds me back most: fear.

I wish it were something heroic such as the fear of being dismembered at the hands of terrorists or being kidnapped by guerillas or crashing in a fiery ball of jet fuel. But those fears are too abstract for me. I get more concerned about the really important things like being embarrassed, looking stupid or getting sick. Even though I’ve experienced all those things and have survived, I still have this worry that the next time is going to be the really bad one. And so I too often avoid engaging situations on trips that I know I should.

But not always.

Several years ago, I was in one of those difficult places of suffering, a large slum outside of Mexico City. I was there with both locals and some other foreigners learning about the needs of the community and observing the amazing efforts that people there were making to raise themselves out of poverty.

At one point, I was invited to the house of a local family to hear firsthand about their situation. I went with a local colleague who translated. We walked into one of the nicer homes there in the slum: this one had cinder block walls and a well-swept concrete slab for a floor. A family of five lived within the ten foot by ten foot confines.

After we made introductions, the wife uncovered a bottle of 7-Up. It was clear this was reserved for special occasions and while I wanted to protest that she shouldn’t open this on my account, I knew better.

The woman had a plastic bucket half filled with water that she obtained from the one water source a few blocks away. She then took four plastic cups, one for her, her husband, my colleague and me, rinsed them in the water, loosely shook them dry, then poured the prized soft drink into each cup. That is when my old traveling companion fear decided to speak up.

I knew the quality of that water and all that it likely contained. I knew that much of it remained in the cup. But I also knew that I had a choice: graciously receive the offered drink or give into the fear of getting sick. So I prayed a quick prayer of protection, accepted the cup and swallowed the 7-Up, the remains of the water and my fear all at the same time.

And I never got sick.

We rarely do. Hardly ever do the things we fear most on trips come to pass. And yet these often silly fears hold us back from so much of life.

What are your greatest fears about travel? Is this the year you stop listening to them and do something bold, maybe even dangerous? Why not try something adventurous and see what actually happens instead of worrying about what might. You will never know what lies on the other side of your fears into you cross them.

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