My secret phobia! What are you afraid of?

  • My Secret Phobia

Ok, I am going to share something with you that not many people know about me. The reason that I don’t tell many people about my little secret is because what I am about share sounds so benign, so innocuous and silly, that most people think I am kidding. Secondly, in my line of work as a Youth Pastor, if the truth gets out about this it could be considered an occupational hazard.

Ok, here it goes..(gulp) I… am… afraid of… wait for it… wait for it…FOAM. (There I said it. My therapist would be so proud of me. If I had a therapist. Or do I?)

Yes, Foam.

Well, the word got out at work, about my phobia, and some of my staff had a little fun at my expense. (No, I had no idea the camera was there)

Here are some of the questions I get from people when they find out that I, a 6’8″ 285 pound man, am afraid of….foam.

What types? all types! If it’s not a solid and not a liquid I don’t want it to come anywhere near me. Yes, Seriously.

Shaving cream, Whip cream, ocean foam (still not sure where ocean foam comes from), Root beer floats, lemon meringue pie, Chocolate Mousse, melted ice cream, pudding, Jello, foamy soap, lots of suds, the head on soda or beer… I could keep going but I just broke out in a cold sweat.

What happens? Whenever foam gets near/on me I have an immediate gag reflex. I have thrown up more times than I would like to remember because of my foam phobia.

Why are you afraid of foam? I have no idea. As a child I don’t remember being captured by evil marshmallow people or dropped into a vat of “cool whip” and left stranded on whippy island for days. I really have no idea.

  • Fear

I know this is a “silly”, but true, example of a fear. Everyday life fears can be a difficult challenge and much more serious. Don’t believe me? Just ask the person who is dealing with loosing a job, losing a spouse, family issues, divorce, eternal fears, the return of terminal sickness, fear of an abuser, fear of a parent, fear of getting old, retirement, getting into the “right” school, fear of being alone, fear of losing a house, and the biggest fear in the world–the fear of not being loved or feeling that you are unlovable.

The Bible talks a lot about the different types of fear. The type we are talking about here is defined in the Bible as the “spirit of fear” (as opposed to the “fear of the Lord”, which is a post for another day.) like found in Romans 8:15:

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

If your like me, at times, you wrestle with the”spirit of fear”. Well, you’re not alone. The good news? There is a cure.


Trusting that the God of the universe loves you as His own child (…but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”) and wants the very best for you, even when life seems at it’s worst.

Last month, in Northern Virginia, we had a short but intense storm with gumball sized hail. My boys had never seen hail before and were very confused as to why, in the middle of summer, ice-cubes were falling from the sky. Ella, my 4 year old, was beyond scared at the jarring noise of the hail hitting the metal cars and the siding of the house. As the hail was bringing down tree limbs and tearing apart roof shingles Ella was holding onto me (my leg specifically) with all her might saying, “…Daddy, Daddy, hold me Daddy.” You can hear her crying for me in the background of this short video.

Ella trusted in the middle of the storm that I was not going to let anything happen to her. And, as her father, I would have done (and will continue to do) anything in my power to protect and nurture her. My desire and power to protect my children, however strong, is limited by my human condition. It’s always been helpful for me, when I get scared or fearful in the hail storms of life, to remember that Gods’ love, unlike mine, has no limits and that He loves me as His beloved child.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

So, I am going to try something different with this post. I am asking anyone who reads this post to comment with two fears of your own. I want the first one to be a weird, quirky kinda fear/phobia. (Maybe you’re afraid of wet cats or clowns. Or, clowns holding wet cats?) And the second fear should be a more serious fear. (No, I am not asking for really personal or intimate fears on the web. But, stuff like: job security, sickness, etc.) Then I thought we, as the children of God, could pray for each other.


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  • Terry Mc

    Ah, Barry. I don’t know how you do it, but you had me in TEARS, watching that video. The look on your face just KILLED me! ( Well, maybe seriously maimed….)

    Anyway my big phobia is bugs. And here, at my lovely job, where the entire campus is part of the Arboretum, my office is a bug HAVEN! Going along with that, somewhat, is my quirky, weird fear of walking under trees at night! I know, you always thought I was a bit ‘off’, and I’m just proving you right. I’m always afraid that a bat or something is going to swoop down and get stuck in my hair. And then I’ll be bald, from pulling all of my hair out! Needless to say, coming into work at 10:pm, and having to walk the gauntlet between the parking lot and the building makes coming to work a little bit more stressful than usual.

    My ‘more serious’ fear? That something is going to happen, something big and bad, and I’m not going to be able to fix it. So basically, my fear is a valid slice of reality. I try not to think of what it may be, but can’t help it sometimes. What if what happened to Mom happens to Dad? or my twin? or any of the rest. Could I handle watching a loved one slip away again for no other reason besides a doctor’s ego? That feeling of helplessness is overwhelming, and it almost broke a few of us. I’m still not whole. So I’ll take your prayers, in the hopes that I find the confidence and strength to take what life dishes out.

    And Barr? I keep praying for you. They say God only gives you what you can handle… Well he sure put those kids of yours in the right place! Your own brood, and the youth at your church… I can’t think of anyone better to protect and guide them. Keep up the good work!

  • Matt @ The Church of No People

    Okay, I’m with you that ocean foam is gross and to be avoided at all costs. But regular foam? Wow. Well, thanks for sharing! I hope you feel better now that you have opened that up to the world :)

  • Kimberly Cundiff-Jefferson

    My quirky fear is of rats and mice. I could tell some funny stories about my experiences with this fear. People that meet me think I am really tough and that I can handle anything which is usually true. When I moved back East, I moved into my daughter’s apartment, which a nice two bedroom. I had heard from her, she had a problem with mice in the past. Her dad helped her seal up holes and pretty much get rid of the mice, so I was confident I wouldn’t be encountering any. So Easter Eve, I being the vigilant Easter Bunny and starting to make an Easter basket for my granddaughter and out of nowhere comes a mouse. I freaked out, it’s 11 pm and I didn’t know who to call. So I called Kory who at the time was still in Utah, 2000 miles away, I tell him a mouse was in the apartment and I didn’t know what to do. He was very patient as I ranted, he said well there isn’t much I can do I am so faraway. Then he become his inquistive self and asked me a series of questions, which help me come up with a temporary solution, I covered up the hole where he went back down with a rubbermaid container. Then he told me the next day to have my son come over and plug the holes. When he got out here he would check it. So that is what I did. I couldn’t sleep that night and thought oh goodness what am I gonna do. Then I realized I was paralyzing myself I couldn’t worry about it. The next time I seen one which was about a week later, I throw a shoe at it and realized they are more afraid of me than them. I still have my fear but I am learning to contain it.

    My fear that is really serious is I am scared to be successful, when everything is going great. I will sit and stew wondering what is going to go wrong and can I prepare for it. I tell myself over and over, stuff happens and God usually doesn’t give us what we can’t handle but come on I am only human so sometimes I will do stuff just to sabotage myself. I am getting better with it but I just feel like I need to do something. Where this fear comes from I have no idea but I keep working on and try to accept and appreciate my blessings, not focusing on what if this happens. It’s hard though for me not think that way. I am conditioned this way.

    Those are my fears the first usually doesn’t get me to pray but the second one will. I usually pray for the strength to get me through anything, and God usually comes through for me.

  • Kim S.

    Barry… That video was hysterical!! I feel for you!! Anyway… I don’t really think that I have any “quirky fears” per say.. Just the norm like snakes, mice and bats(when, at the time, my 3 year old brought one to the door!!).
    My serious fear has been one that has developed in the past five years since we lost our third child. You never expect something that devastating to happen and when it does it makes you somewhat paranoid about what is coming next!! So my fear occurs whenever my husband is out-especially with our two boys…I am afraid that something will happen to them and then my entire little family would be gone. It isn’t like I worry endlessly while they are out for errands or even when they go on fishing weekends to the mtns. The fear sets in when the errand is taking longer than it should etc. I am lucky that a simple phone call will definitely help ease the fear… But it doesn’t disappear entirely til they all pull up the driveway and walk in the door!!!
    Soooo …there it is… Loving your posts!! Keep up the good work :o)

  • The Ordained Barista

    Rule #1. You’re not allowed to make the big guy cry. Seriously, thanks so much for sharing that fear. Someday I would like to hear the entire story, in person. Maybe next time you and the boys are in DC? I’m sure that your experience, fears and courage will, no doubt, be used to comfort others who are going through similar tragedy. I imagining that you probably already have encouraged many as you have done me. As a father of 6 hearing your story made me want to give each one of my kids a hug for absolutely no reason!
    Kim, Thank you!

  • Margaret Wright

    Ok so that look on your face for the first video at 54 seconds is hilarious. My most favorite part is when you say “It’s not a solid, it’s not a liquid, it’s of the devil. …Stop it’s like anti-matter!” Also – no offense or anything – but you kind of look like a girl at 1:06. With your hands up like that you might as well have said “eww, that’s soOo gross!” or something.

    Ocean foam? Seriously? All it is is air bubbles caused by the disturbance of water. And Jello is not that bad. That is just a jiggly colored substance. Nothing more, nothing less.

    My phobia is clowns & stinkbugs. When I was 4 years old I had a heart surgery and a clown came to “visit” me. It put one of those red circular clown noses on my Tutu, or little bunny stuffed animal. (It was stolen from me about 6 years later – aka left at my godparent’s house and never returned.) I. Was. Freaked. by that clown. At the tender age of 4, I lost that innocence. :( Stinkbugs raided my house and killing them… XP.

  • tony babcock

    WOW … Thought on this one for a few days now and as for a quirky fear .. i am at a loss. I do not want to come off as being dishonest but i really can not think of any quirky fear. If i think of one I will gladly post it here right away. Now watch as soon as i post this one will come up, lol.

    For a serious fear that one is far too easy. My kids. When it comes to them I have fear that when they leave the house with friends for thier safety. I have said no to them even when i have not wanted to out of fear that they will be out on thier own. I bought them cell phones to keep track of them but I always worry for them. I even had them trained in martial arts since they were 5 until they made black belt. I know that sometimes I have been over protective and it bothers me. I guess that God is still working on me in that area. What parent does not fear for the safety of thier kids?

    As of the writing of this post I still have no quirky fear. Darn it i was hoping that it would pop out while I was typing this.

    WAIT I GOT IT !!!!!! Snapping a tooth off!!!!!
    When i was a small kid i was trying to twist off a nozzle from the hose and snapped a piece of my front tooth off … to this day i have a nice nick in my left front tooth. Now i see people open up a soda bottle with thier teeth it freaks me out!!! My co-worker just opened a bottle of ROOT BEER with his teeth and I just went nuts. AHHHHHHHHHHHH

  • Margaret Wright

    btw, how do you shave?

  • The Ordained Barista

    Easy, Electric Razor!

  • The Ordained Barista

    Just the thought of someone biting of a bottle cap sends shivers down my spine! Ouch! Sounds like something I would have done in my stupider, I mean younger, days!

    Man, the kid one for me really hits home for me too, X 6! Having been a youth pastor for all these days I have seen the good, bad and the ugly. So, yeah, I’m right there with you! You know what I am not looking forward to? Two simple words that send all parents into a cowering pile of mush……Drivers License!!!!!