In my post in 2010, I extensively discussed my worst fears at that time: death, ghosts and snakes.

Over time, I had not realized (and only until recently) that there was one fear that has lurked deep in my heart for so long– the fear of the opinions of men.

This fear, I believe, stems from one’s love — in fact, too much love for one’s self. Have you even been afraid, or to put it mildly, conscious, of what others would think of you because you covet their approval? No wonder you desire the thumbs up sign or likes in all your social media posts, hence you post only the best photos (often with loads of filters).

Whenever I take selfies, I have the tendency to keep doing it again and again until I hit the right angle or perfect expression. Seeing my wall peppered with selfies of FB friends has prompted me to join the bandwagon, as well. Now I ask myself, “Why do we itch to upload the latest selfie? Just to show what we look like? To get admiring nods? To earn a thumbs up or love icons? Why?

Isn’t this a manifestation that we all want to be accepted? to feel loved? We think that digital approval equates to real acceptance. We couldn’t be more wrong. In truth, virtual relationships are as shallow as a water pod formed after minutes of incessant rain and which easily dries up under the scorching heat of the sun. One moment you swoon over your virtual friends approving emojis, another moment you wonder why no one reacts to your latest posts. You ask, “have my friends gone tired of my posts? Should I upload something funnier, more outrageous, or unique, so I can recapture their attention and approval?

Whew. It will be an endless cycle and you will realize, later in the day that you have wasted precious time being glued to your device.

Why do people indeed desire approval? Why are we generally daunted by people’s opinions?

According to Maslow’s Need Theory, we humans have an inherent need to be recognized. It is no wonder that both fame and power are irresistible to many. How many of us, when were young, had dreamed to be somebody? I was not exempt on this.

I remember when I was in grade three, all of us in class were asked by our class adviser what our ambition was. Without batting an eyelash, I scribbled, “to be a famous teacher.” Whoah… not that I even knew any teacher who was famous at that time, or that I had an inkling what the word meant. I probably considered it just a fanciful term to differentiate my answer from that of my classmates who also wanted to be teachers.

As the years went by, the word “famous” got stuck. In my desire to be recognized, I joined contests left and right. Exposure after all is the key. I competed in oratorical contests – Talumpati, Balagtasan, beauty and brains pageants—name it. I was gutsy, even “shameless” and ultra-competitive.

By the time I entered college at 17, I was already over “exposed” and relatively known in our small hometown. Being recognized though, I later realized, did nothing to calm the inner turmoil raging in my soul. If ever, the desire for the honor of men and the fear of their opinions have made me even more agitated than I ever was. Eventually, I had a breakdown right after completing my freshman year in college. I had too much going on in my head and way too soon.
All I knew was that I “snapped” because my fears were greater than my zest for life. I exploded because my reality was at loggerheads with the truth I tried to sweep under the rug. I desired more the approval of men than the peace originating from a contented heart. I lived in my world of make-believe. I was a fraud, a charlatan. And frauds, once unmasked, have a tenuous hold on reason until downhill they slide.

But God’s arm scooped me up. He intervened and healed my soul. When reason temporarily escaped me, faith grew its wings.

I never looked back since then.

Twenty-eight years after my deliverance, what or whom shall I fear now?

Fear grips only those who grope in the dark. I have seen the light, and as it flooded my heart, peace and calmness took over. I also regained my equilibrium and reconciled my reality with the truth.

Today, the words and opinions of men who are subject to the scrutiny and judgment from the originator of life—no longer bear a scorpion’s sting. The word of life has freed me from this fear that has gripped many a man.

It is the Word of God we ought to esteem, and which I am trying my best to do, according to the light and grace he gives me day by day.

Indeed, God alone ought to be feared.

And loved.

And glorified.