Mormons have often learned about the Pride Cycle in the Book of Mormon. A community lives righteously, then they are blessed and enriched, then they become prideful. When people are prideful, God finds a way to humble them.
When the people are challenged with war, pestilence, drought, etc., they will eventually repent and become humble and prayerful. Because they are righteous, they are blessed. And if they are not careful about pride, the cycle starts again.
I think there is also a fearless cycle, but it is a personal cycle within each of us. When we overcome our fears and try new or challenging things, we eventually become successful at one or more of those activities. As we are successful, we are less fearful, we are happier and more comfortable in the world.
As we are comfortable, we come across new and exciting things and we again decide whether to be fearful or fearless. As we accumulate successes, we more comfortable with ourselves, with facing fear, and with the world around us. We learn through our successes that we can handle whatever life throws at us, and eventually, land on our feet.
And the opposing is also true — as we are fearful, we are less happy with ourselves. When we let fear win, we cease to reach out and try new things. We become more uncomfortable and more fearful.
There are a few scriptural stories about Heavenly Father training his prophets, teaching them to be courageous. We “look up to” the prophets, both ancient and modern. It is hard to imagine them as fearful, cautious, and well… human. Yet each were very aware of their personal frailties.
We all know the story of Jonah fleeing his responsibilities to cry repentance to the people of Nineveh, and the Mariners threw him into the sea because they feared the storm that arose.
Moses is also a great example:
11 ¶ And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Exodus 4:1 and 10
1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.
10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
We can see from modern day revelation how God uses Moses as an example when teaching Oliver Cowdery. God is teaching Oliver how to use one of his spiritual gifts — the gift of revelation. In doing so, God refers back to Moses.
Doctrine & Covenants Section 8:
1 Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit.
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.
How do I teach my children to be fearless? How do I expect them to leave the nest and venture into a VERY uncomfortable scary world if they are never accustomed to fear in smaller doses? If they are fearful, they will never discover their own talents and gifts.
I have to cut the apron strings, slowly and safely, one by one. I have to coach them on how to handle strangers and emergencies and then LET THEM ride around the block, go a little distance by themselves when age appropriate, and handle some of their own problems — eventually ALL their own problems. I have to teach them to stand up for themselves in an appropriate manner, even with adults who hold positions of respect.
A great exercise is sending your child to the fast food counter to ask for more ketchup. They will get ignored. People will not see them. Adults will cut in front of them. However, they learn to be patient, how to get someone’s attention, and how to say, “Excuse me, can I have some help?” or “Excuse me, I was here first.” Then you send them with a small amount of cash to buy an ice cream cone. (And you remind them that the change goes back into Mom and Dad’s wallet!)
Eventually, you teach them to drive a car. We have so many laws now that delay this milestone in a young person’s life. However, having my own first few accidents while living under my parents’ roof taught me how to handle these situations.
My parents pointed out when the other driver (a middle-aged adult) was taking advantage of me and that backing up while you’re stopped at an intersection – because you are more afraid of being over the line in the crosswalk – wasn’t the best choice.
But I made these mistakes while having a safety net. And the day I fell asleep at the wheel while heading to 6 a.m. high school Seminary class at the church building – bumping the curb and waking me up – I’m sure my sister told my parents about immediately. I still love to drive, but I learned – in part because of my mistakes – to take it seriously.
I want to protect my children. Unfortunately, living an easy gilded life with no emergencies will not benefit them. They need to know how to live at the edge of their comfort zone, how fun and challenging it is to be fearless, and how to calculate risk versus reward. And maybe that’s what my Father in Heaven has been trying to teach me.
Molly A. Kerr
Molly is on a life long quest to figure herself out. Born to be and educated as an aerospace engineer she is also blessed to be a wife and a mom of two in the present, previously served as a full-time missionary, is consistently called to teach the youth in her ward, is eagerly though slowly doing home improvement as money and time allow, all while gradually learning how to be herself and find peace and balance somewhere in between. Despite her attempts to make “the right” decisions in her life, she has learned to deal with some unexpected challenges over the last two decades. Total tornadoes, really. What she has discovered is that her career has taught her a lot about the Gospel and being a better mother, and the Gospel, when applied to challenges at the office, has made her a better professional. She has also learned that it is okay to be herself, and God still loves (and forgives) her for it.