Phobias are not funny. Although honestly, some do sound funny. For example: peladophobia is the fear of bald people. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. (I promise I’m not making that up.) Novercaphobia is the fear of your stepmother. One website had a listing of 587 different possible phobias.
Doctors tell us phobias are an exaggerated, inexplicable and illogical fear of something or a combination of somethings. While we may laugh at the phobias of others, when we have a fear or phobia of our own, it’s no laughing matter. In fact, it can be downright scary.
What are people so afraid of? According to the “National Association of They Say So,” here are the top ten fears people face:
10. Fear of PAIN
9. Fear of FAILURE
8. Fear of OPEN SPACES
7. Fear of FLYING
6. Fear of ENCLOSED SPACES
5. Fear of NEEDLES
4. Fear of SPIDERS
3. Fear of SNAKES
2. Fear of HEIGHTS
1. Fear of PUBLIC SPEAKING
Years ago, there was a front-page article on phobias in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (10/2/04). The focus of the article was a phobia I’d never heard of: coulrophobia – the fear of clowns. Imagine that. A vocation specifically designed to make people laugh and smile could actually induce fear and fright. From cheering up little children in the pediatric wards of hospitals, to making appearances at nursing homes and bringing a simple smile to the wrinkled faces of too often forgotten and neglected senior adults, to being the star attraction at the circus, clowns have always been famous for being a source of fun, humor and happiness.
However, some people are absolutely terrified by them.
According to Laura Allen, a cognitive behavioral therapist at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, coulrophobia can cause chills, breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, sweating and even heart palpitations. Rubber noses, ruby-red lips, painted white faces, outrageous hats and funny cars can’t stop the fear. Instead, they are the cause of it. Just ask your nearest coulrophobia sufferer.
Another unusual phobia is ecclesiophobia. You know what that one is? Fear of church. (A lot of people must have that one.) Remember a phobia is “an exaggerated, inexplicable and illogical fear of something.” Why would people fear the church? The one institution, ordained of God, built by Jesus Christ, designed to help, heal, and provide hope to people of all ages and stages of life. How could the church be the object of someone’s objection? Go figure. Or how about this phobia: homilophobia – the fear of sermons. Or this one: homilo-afternoon-ophobia – the fear of sermons going past noon. (Okay, I made that one up. Sorry.)
Here’s one more phobia millions of people have, even inside the church: metathesiophobia – the fear of change. Talk about a paralyzing fear. More people are robbed of God’s best and removed from God’s blessings because of their fear of change. Even though their fear is “exaggerated, inexplicable and illogical.” Stuck in the rut of routine and “the way we’ve always done it,” they will unfortunately and unnecessarily cower at the thought of change that might mean the slightest inconvenience or smallest infringement upon their comforts. And, more often than not, they’ll miss God’s best.
The Bible tells us God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). However, He is constantly changing us beginning with salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We need to learn to trust Him and not fear what we can’t figure out or what we don’t feel comfortable doing just yet. God is a supernatural God Who loves to do and will do extraordinary things in our lives, on a daily basis, if we’ll just trust Him, step out in faith and follow Him.
So what are you afraid of? Don’t let some phobia keep you from following our heavenly Father and make you miss the multitude of blessings He wants to bring your way. God’s trying to finish a good work in your life (Philippians 1:6). It would sure be a lot easier if we’d all cooperate …
… and stop clowning around.
© 2016. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Today, more than 8,000 people call Crossroads their church home. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.