Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Fear’s relentless tentacles have been perhaps the most formidable force in my life: for good and for evil. Fear has given me amazing gifts and it has caused me to sabotage myself unmercifully. It has taught and given me probably more than any other thing. It has given me the opportunity to beg for and receive miracles. It’s also given me the gifts of seeing a lie for what it is and being tender with others and myself. Right now, I’m virtually eaten up by fear.
As October approaches, I always find myself more in the grip of those tentacles. My grandmother’s birthday was in October. She died a couple of years ago, but this time of year it feels like I’ve just lost her again and sends me into this monolithic fear of “ What or who that is precious to me will I lose next?”
Right now, at this moment, on this gorgeous fall morning, these are the things I am terrified of:
*Fear of REJECTION even by people I would and should reject, or people I don’t even know
*Fear of loss of a single person close to me, because I perceive those who appreciate me as an endangered species.
*Fear of the Headlines
*Fear of never –ending war
*Fears for my children’s safety and happiness in a progressively more chaotic world
*Fear of my parents losing their independence
*Fear I won’t be up to the task that God has put in front of me or that I won’t know what it is
*Fear of failure
*Fear Of Success
*Fear of someone saying, “Oh you’re the one who wrote that book I hate!”
*Fear of my To Do list- that it might one day come out the victor in a battle for survival
*Fear of my crows’ feet
*Fear of being single
*Fear of being married
*Inexplicable fear of cheerleaders and Arbonne saleswomen
Each and every fear is shrink- wrapped in a lie. The wrap itself is elegant and beautiful. The lie is often more palatable than the truth, because it requires much less effort and offers the illusion of safety.
At the root of all of these fears are different tentacles of the same lie:
“I am in this world alone. I have to carry it all myself. There is no one out there as bad/ messed up/ crazy/ fill in the blank/ as me. I can’t communicate honestly what is important to me or I will drive them away. There is no one up there listening.”
Here’s a doozy of a lie I am half- believing right now. I’m sitting here fighting a lie floating around in my head that says, for all of my time spiritual seeking and asking God to remove my fears, I shouldn’t have them any more. Here’s another lie: How can I minister to and help those hurt by their religion and seeking to regain their spirituality, if I don’t 100 percent have it all together? I shouldn’t have any fears. This is the aforementioned “ I have to carry it all alone” lie.
If I believe this lie, I become nothing but a goalie. Every communication and action I take is from a defensive posture.
Self- defense and justification make my message disappear. I have to ward off real or imaginary attacks to my credibility or right to belong instead of reaching out or just reaching others. If I listen too my fears and let them drive my communications with others, I’m intimidated by everyone. That’s no way to love someone, help someone or minister to anyone.
Fear has taught me not to be the goalie.
Of course, the remedy to fear is trust. Fear, lies and trust are all inextricably intertwined in every situation. Every fear is an opportunity to trust myself, trust others and trust the One who made us, or trust the lie. That sounds hackneyed and trite because it is NOT that simple. We can’t berate or will ourselves into trusting. The only way we can ease ourselves into trust of an uncertain future, others, ourselves and God is tenderness.
When I was around 9, my grandparents took my brother and I to Hawaii. We stayed on Maui and went to every beach there. The waves were huge and not like anything we had ever seen on our Texas coast. My grandmother, who must have been around 55 years old at the time, plunged into the waves with each of us in hand and proceeded to teach us how to body -surf. She taught us courage and joy in the face of fear without ever saying a word.
I was recently on the Texas coast by myself for a time of prayer and getting my head together.
Every day, I went body surfing for several hours and I felt my grandmother with me every single time. Needless to say, I felt God with me every single time too.
Each time I approached the waves (there had been a storm, so there actually were some) I didn’t know how it would turn out. I had to assume that someone or something would carry me. I was out there by myself, so there really was no alternative, and every time, I was tenderly and warmly carried.
Trust and tenderness are like that for me. I don’t have to chart a course; it won’t work anyway. I need to be tender with my fears and myself while I ask for courage and gradually see the lies for what they are.
I have finally figured out, God is not going to remove all of my fears, so I have stopped berating myself for not being perfect and I have finally figured out that is the biggest gift of all. God is tenderly helping me teach myself trust through the gift of answered prayers, and by showing me that I am not separate or alone.
I have a tribe of people hand- picked by God who like me and are there for me. We all have a tribe and our tribe is bigger than we think.
Without fear, I have no opportunity to experience the grace of God’s protection and many answered prayers. I would not have the opportunity to develop my strength in facing unbelievable odds. I would not have been forced to seek my higher power, fall to my knees and yell, ” HELP! I don’t know what I’m doing here!” and received more confirmations than I can count that
Someone is listening up there, and he’s saying,
“It’s on its way, open your hands! Yes, I’m listening. Do you trust me now?”
Totally worth it.
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefor we will not fear…
Be still and know that I am God…The Lord of Hosts is with us.