Obstacles on the Path: Fear

Imagine those moments in the passages (Biblical or other) when those is the story are called by God (whatever that means to you) to Fear Not.

We’re all afraid right now. Take a moment to bring some light to your fears. Maybe small fears. PAUSE. Maybe middle of the road fears. PAUSE. Maybe big, global fears. We’re all afraid right now. Fear is a normal response on the road of life. Take a moment and allow the light to shine on your fears. This is a safe place to do so. This is Safe, Sacred Space. PAUSE. This is Safe, Sacred Space for everyone.

Often the first obstacle that rises up to meet us as we take the path is Fear.  Often fear catches us by surprise, maybe mostly because we don’t want to see it.  It often disguises itself as anger. It sometimes looks like hate or avoidance. Sometimes, it looks like healthy boundaries.  Sometimes it looks like illness or that desire to just stay in bed.  It’s often hidden behind our odd ways of reacting to life as it is around us.   

Fear.  Fear is based on not seeing clearly, not knowing.  You can see it in the stories where we are told “fear not”.  There is uncertainty, a not knowing, a lack of clarity.  An asking of truth and faith when we are not sure and cannot see.  

As we walk the path, we step out of the comfort zones of safety and what we know and fear arises.  Sometimes, little.  Sometimes, big.  Often, somewhere in between.  Perhaps, we speak to ourselves: “I am not afraid.”  “I am not afraid.”  “I am not afraid.”  Perhaps this is the voice of God in one of its many forms.  “Be not afraid.”  

Imagine, for a moment, what it was like for our chosen story from the Bible of “fear not”.  Mother Mary when the angel appears.  The shepherds in the field.  Mary Magdalen at the tomb…

Fear not.  What all encompassing terror and fear must be overcoming them in these moments?  Asked to step in and step up, when it was all so unclear and unknown and dangerous.    

Fear happens when we don’t see clearly and we’re not sure we should trust what’s before us.  The dust is thick and the road is foggy.  What happens when we let the fear consume us?  It blinds us even more.  Fear increases.  Our ability to see clearly shrinks.  Sometimes, we fear a stick in the road, for fear that it is a snake and if we don’t get out of our own fear, the stick snake becomes bigger and more menacing.  Because we stop seeing and thinking clearly.  

Do not be afraid.  Fear is the first step away from love.  PAUSE.  

Fear can consume us.  It is the first step to anger.  Often we don’t realize there is fear, it seems we go straight to anger.  Fear makes us feel weak.  Anger feels strong.  Anger feels like we’re doing something.  Aggression feels powerful, which feels great when beneath all that we’re feeling weak and incapacitated.  Fear is…scary.  Really, really scary.  

Perhaps, we’re feeling a lot more fear these days. It doesn’t feel good.  Notice the desire to shift to anger and finger pointing.  It feels better.  But eventually that anger becomes hate.  It burns us up.  It leads to destruction and ruin.  

Sometimes a touch of anger spicing up fear makes for a desire for change.  And fear and anger are normal.  There is nothing inherently wrong with these feelings.  It’s what we do with these feelings that matters.  They can be a part of the path to growth.  

Fear can quietly destroys us from within. That lack of clarity, fogginess, builds.  There is less and less understanding and clarity.  Anxiety.  It gets heavy.  Depression.  In both of these, we are no longer seeing clearly what’s true and what’s real and what’s possible.  

The heavier and deeper the hold, the less clearly we see.  Anger leads to “seeing red”, clouding what’s true.  Fear leads to heavier and heavier clouds of hopelessness and only seeing darkness.  

They go hand in hand and it all starts with fear.  Fear is not seeing clearly what is before us.  

This is why we need one another.  To help one another see clearly through the red, the fog, and the dust.  The gift of religion: spirituality must be practiced, not in solitude, but in company to fully express itself into the world and beyond.

Fear will happen again and again and again on our journey.  That’s why it’s so important for us to understand it and work with it.  Fear not.  Be not afraid.  

What do we do with it?  We control it, before it consumes us and spreads outward to the world around us or quietly destroys us from within.  Before it becomes anger and hate that leads to destruction.  Fear is the first step away from love.  

We control it before it fogs up who we are and we sink into a bog of anxiety and depression.  To be clear, I am not talking clinical here, that is a bigger story.  I am talking the common experiences of anger, rage, anxiety, and depression within each of us as human beings on the journey of life.  That said, these are also useful ground floor tools for those who ARE experiencing clinical anxiety, depression, even anger management issues.  Good company, purpose, faith…those are all healing tools for our mind and soul.  

Face the fear.  Become stronger.  For real strong.  Not angry and aggressive strong, but heart strong!  Strong enough to Love.  That is what is asked of us: to Love when it is the hardest to do so.  To love those it is hardest to love.  To step in and step up despite our fears.  

How do we do this?  We listen to what we’ve been told: Fear not.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid. Fear not does not eliminate the fear.  It’s still there, in us and in the people in these passages we reflect on.  Perhaps fear with anger and even hatred, but the pause and the call to fear not reminds us to control the fear so that it does not consume and control us. 

The call is to soothe and calm the fear so that we see what is really before us, not what we imagine is or imagine what will be.  Not to worry and stew over the demons or the snakes or everything falling apart.  Not to imagine only only darkness and doom. But to see things as they are.  To see that the love and the blessings are everything.  

When we listen and “fear not”, we become calm souls in the storm.  Look at these passages.  What happens when we fear not; when we don’t run away or hide under the covers (real and metaphorical).  PAUSE.  We see angels.  We see God.  We see Jesus risen.  We see answers we couldn’t see before.  We see the path that was always there before us, but was obscured.  We know which way to go.  

When we control our fears, we soothe the fears of those around us.  We become a soothing balm for anger and hate.  We become beacons of light and hope.  We cast out the devils in ourselves and others.  

We know love.  We see love.  We connect to one another and the greater mystery.  We know that we are more blessed than we could possibly know.  We know peace.  We become God’s Peace.  

Swallow hard.  Take a breath (or forty) and steady yourself in Courage.  Courage is Love in action.  Courage is being afraid and doing the work anyway.  (PAUSE) We find Grace when we have the courage to show up to life and cultivate gratitude in all moments and in all times.  

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