It's something rarely if ever talked about, but it wreaks havoc in the lives of all it comes in contact with. It has nestled itself in the hearts, minds and spirits of countless people, communities, religions, etc. For me personally, about 29 of my 32 years on this planet have been lived within the confines of it. It can have such a stronghold that it can kill dreams, prevent joy, and shorten lives. Even still with something that appears to have such power, once it has been identified and acknowledged it evaporates.
This is what fear does. After much thought and contemplation over the past three weeks, a few days ago it came to me. Seven days into the new year it hit me. What better way to lead off topics for the year and this month than to begin by talking about fear.
Sunday, while in the presence of my spiritual advisors at First Sunday (the spiritual service I attend every month), I got the message that fear was the one 'thing' that was begging my attention and focus.
Only this time around, it wasn't begging my attention and focus in the way(s) had in the past. In times past my fear about what someone might think of me, about someone taking their love away from me, fear about my future had all but consumed me---and that's the abbreviated version of the list. But this time around, on Sunday January 7th when fear came up it was as a discussion point about how it manifests itself in so many ways that before you know it you've forgotten WHO you really are. This was all before 2pm mind you.....From that entire experience I thought I was clear that I needed to talk about fear this month: mine, yours, OURS.
Then to drive it all home and seal the deal, I got it AGAIN later that day while at a church service in support of a dear friend of mine. My dear brother's sermon that day spoke in great detail about fear and how we can deal with it. It was something about my story, about his story (alot of which I am familiar) that made me emotional as he spoke about our refusal to face fear and the power that it has over our lives as a result. I think about this so much these days that it has become natural for me to see it (not only in myself) but in others, from a mile away. Take your pick....government, religion, work, entertainment, everyday life relationships with friends and family, love, sex, career, finances, future, fear mutates everywhere it goes. I've made a committment to primarily make I statements here and not to point the finger at others in my observation of this topic.
What I can say in reflection about my life lived thus far is that I can clearly see now how my fear, my parents fear, my families fear, the world and communities fear have all joined together to make me the person I am today. I mean that in two ways. 1.) it was all of these fears that I allowed to seep into my mind, heart, and experience which in turn made me miserable for so long. Even in the face of problems (which always proved to have solutions), even in the face of prayer (and then more fear & worry), it took me a long time to realize that all it took was for me to acknowledge it, and to respond. 2.) Fear has forced me to respond with an opposite kind of energy, which has ultimately been the blessing which has allowed me to LIVE and speak from a place of love, freedom, joy and truth. Courage, bravery can only be born out of the presence of their opposite(s). In that respect fear has actually served me. It has enabled me to realize and remember that its power is illusory. One acronym I've often read in reference to FEAR is as follows: (F)alse (E)xpectations (A)ppearing (R)eal. I've found that to be true in most cases. Since I recognize it more often now, when it does surface I'm able to immediately catch myself and not let it snowball and cause problems. I know fear has served a purpose in my life, and that it still does. The only difference now is that it has none of the power over my life that it used to. Over the last few days not only have I thought deeply about this issue, but I've seen specific examples of its activity in the lives of some of those closest to me. When I recognized these same things coming up for those close to me, it caused me to really think about how many layers there are to the entire issue.
Connect the dots...Fear is born from uncertainty, and uncertainty is born from a lack of faith. This is how it's looked for me at least. I can recall being most afraid, stifled and confused when I 'didn't know exactly' what would happen, if something would happen, how it would happen, etc...The not knowing was the part that made me the most uncomfortable. It was like if I knew what was coming then I could prepare myself for it, but that is rarely how it works. Even in the times when I didn't know what would happen however, something ALWAYS worked itself out. Miraculously, even with all my prayer, worry, fear, thought, and more prayer, 'it' always turned out ok. And even for the things that weren't ok in the end, it was NOT THE END of the world. Even when I had undisputed evidence that the creator & the universe always was working for my highest and greatest good, I still didn't believe and so I feared. This is not to say that I don't still have usual, frequent visits from fear in one form or another because I most certainly do. The only difference now is that when it comes up.....I see it for what it really is, which is bullshit which has no power over me. So for example.....when I don't know how the rent will get paid, when I'm not sure what my next set of numbers will be for my HIV checkup, or what my next 'move' will be, when I'm unclear about when love will show up or how long it will stay, when any number of the fearful things I tend to think about come up, I stop. I acknowledge whats going on. I don't always win these fear filled bouts in the first round, but I remember by now that nothing can exist without it's opposite, and so I then have to call on the courage I know to be the truth about me in order to overcome fear. Fear about death, about money, about love, about happiness, about this, about that. The fear will always come up, but it's about how we react that determines it's true power.
I'll end this with a quote from my dear friend Pastor Kendal Brown:
"We are faced with fear. Faced with the presence of the unknown.
I've found out something about fear.
Fear has no power when we turn around and face it.
The power of fear comes from our refusing to face it.
I found this out in a very difficult way last year. The thing that I was fearing the most, all it needed was an aknowledgement from me.
What the fear really was saying was, "Danger Will Robinson, there' s something that you need to deal with, before you can move on in life."
And at the that moment when I looked fear in the face, the power of that fear went away.
Not that the thing went away. But the power that the thing had over me went away.
Turn around, face it, say hello to it. Pat it on the head, and get ready to watch it's power over your life dissipate and dissolve.
Resurrection can only come when something dies.
Resurecction can only come when we dare to say some goodbyes"
For me, this day, this time, this year, is about me letting go, daring to say goodbye to those things, people, and thoughts that no longer serve me---fearful thoughts being some of the main ones.