Faith is rare because fear is rampant. For faith will demand that I step into places that fear itself fears to go.
If your prudence stops you every time from taking an action, then you are no more prudent, you are frightened.
As I contemplate a relationship with God, I find that I’m afraid to ride on the coattails of the infinite. But what I fear more than that is spending my life in the coat closet.
In a polished surface of metal I happen to notice my reflected face; it wears a pale, beaten lonely look, eyes looking out at nothing with an expression of fear, frightened and lonely in a nightmare world. Something, I don’t know what, makes me think of my childhood; I remember myself as a schoolchild sitting at a hard wooden desk, and then as a little girl with thick, fair, wind-tossed hair, feeding the swans in a park. And it seems both strange and sad to me that all those childish years were spent in preparation for this – that, forgotten by everybody, with a beaten face, I should serve machinery in a place far away from the sun.
My life is too often driven by the fear of the next moment verses focusing on the privilege that I have the next moment.
The restless adventurer within me stands eye-to-eye with the fear that has stepped directly in my path. And the thing I absolutely must not do is to blink first.
Sadly, in too many cases surrender is having been ‘outrun’ by fear rather than having ‘run out’ of heart.
A child's (or an adult's) nervous system may detect danger or a threat to life when the child enters a new environment or meets a strange person. Cognitively, there is no reason for them to be frightened. But often, even if they understand this, their bodies betray them. Sometimes this betrayal is private; only they are aware that their hearts are beating fast and contracting with such force that they start to sway. For others, the responses are more overt. They may tremble. Their faces may flush, or perspiration may pour from their hands and forehead. Still others may become pale and dizzy and feel precipitously faint.
Sadly, it seems that I have the proclivity to create plenty of devils, but most of the time I don’t even go looking for angels.
Too often fear is fiction madly running amuck, all the while madly tracking ‘muck’ across the floor of fact.
If there’s any redeeming quality that I can find in running away from something, it’s that I’m on my feet. Now all I’ve got to do is alter my direction.
Fear left unrestrained always leaves us running ‘from’ something. Fear harnessed compels us to run ‘to’ something. And fear denied leaves us running in circles.
The more we construct lives that prioritize safety, the bigger the prison we construct around ourselves.
If I am sufficiently brave to extract the cancer of fear, I have effectively gutted my conviction that what stands before me is impossible.
Safety is not a destination that we reach for, rather it is a retreat that we escape to. And if our lives are marked by the incessant search for safety, we will live the whole of it going in reverse.
We think that boxes take everything that’s bad and they lock all that nasty stuff out, when in reality they take everything that we are and they lock all of those great things in.
Self-preservation is to hunker down in the suffocating confines of this infinitesimally tiny existence that I define as ‘me,’ instead of letting ‘me’ run through the infinitely massive expanse of everything that is not me. And if the beast of self-preservation does not permit such freedoms, I will preserve myself to my own death.
I am amazed that without any hesitation whatsoever I can completely believe myself to be on a grand journey of massive vistas and bold ascents, only to find that they are nothing more than a figment of a frightened imagination that needed a journey but could not admit to the fear of actually taking one.
I might define a ‘journey’ as something that life itself calls me to. And I might then define a ‘trip’ as something I create to avoid a journey by mimicking a journey. And while fear is most certainly part and parcel of both, the latter is emboldened by fear while the former surrenders to it.
It’s not about the elimination of fear. Rather it’s about the elimination of the feeling that the elimination of fear is necessary before we take the next step.
The hand of God is wonderfully evident at those times when He pens stories whose lines we ourselves are far too fearful to pen or whose imaginations are far too limited to envision. And I would unashamedly suggest that the Christmas story is that very story.
How often have I painted a splendid picture of a journey marked by courageous ascents and daring desert crossings when all along all I’ve really been doing is running?
Fear is a lethal killer of dreams, the greatest cancer that has beset passion, and a ruthless thief of lives stolen and buried in the decay of lives squandered. Yet the greatest tragedy of all is that the fear that destroys us is rarely the monster it pretends to be, nor does it possess anything close to the power that we grant it. Therefore, it is only a killer, a cancer and a thief because we empower it to be so.
What in the world would ever lead to me believe that life is a series of opportunities that are readily available to everyone else but me? What really leads me to believe such an atrocious lie is that I don’t believe in myself sufficiently to engage those opportunities in the first place.
The assumption is that if I expend myself for myself in the end all I’ll be left with is myself, and that alone is frightening. But what I’ve failed to consider is that I have to expend so much of myself living for myself that in the end I’m really left with very little of myself, and that is unimaginably frightening.
The choice to avoid risk is the choice to avoid living, and to avoid living is one of the greatest risk of all.