Theo Acker

For the most part, we overcome small fears daily – getting in a car, boarding a plane, speaking in front of others, walking down a sidewalk, being in large crowds, visits to the dentist and many more. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first but, once we are in the midst of it, it’s not that bad. 

Often, the anticipation of an event is more frightening or concerning than the event itself. Fear serves as both a catalyst and inhibitor for aggression, anger, depression, sadness, stress and several other emotions. I once heard that “anxiety is worry spiraling out of control.” Why do some allow it to take such a hold in their lives while others can deal with fears almost effortlessly?

My mother is the most fearless person I know. She lost her hearing from a high fever when she was only 18 months old. Until she was 10, she did not speak. With the help of friends and the love of my grandparents, she moved to Waco to attend a specialized school where she would learn how to read, write and speak. Most of all, this time taught her that she belonged and that she could overcome. Her fears may still be many but she maneuvers through life as if she is Mrs. America, MasterChef, G.I. Jane and Wonder Woman all wrapped into one beautiful person. My sister and I watch in awe and can only hope to be as fearless through life as she. 

My mother is the reason I am a teacher today. Sitting in the back of a little country schoolhouse with tears falling down her cheeks, she tells me how she watched other boys and girls her age reading, learning and interacting with one another. Her tears were from the fear of not belonging, not knowing what was ahead for her. If anyone in this world has felt fear, it is my mother, but she overcame and pushed forward with the help of a few and the love of many. She flows through life like water in a stream – gentle, constant, pushing harder after a rain, but slowing just enough for us all to see her grace and beauty. A preacher’s wife, mother, grandmother and most trusted farmhand, I’m sure she remembers and still feels fear in both big and small forms, but you would never know it. 

I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor but I see lives each day affected by fear. One thing I know is that kids need love, security, routine, structure and to see that fear is a manageable emotion, and they do not have to face it alone. Guess what – adults need the same thing. Keep this in mind as you come in contact with others that may be exhibiting a warning sign, an inner fear that is sending out signals for your attention. Usually just a simple, “I’m here for you,” “You can talk to me anytime,” “I’ve been through something like this,” “It will be OK,” is all they need to hear and, if you don’t know what to say, offer them a shoulder to cry on or your arms for a hug. We all need it – we must be there for one another. My mother was always there for me.

“Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

Theo Acker is a resident of Waxahachie, an educator and a guest columnist for the Waxahachie Sun.

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