Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In the Lord I'll be ever thankful,
In the Lord I will rejoice,

Look to God, do not be afraid,

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.


--"In the Lord," Taizé hymn



In my week of walking through "The big three"--fear, shame, and guilt--we finally come to "fear."

Fear is, in my opinion, the most pervasive of the big three, the most difficult to face, and the hardest to overcome, because it is so strongly attached to an immediate, visceral, physical reaction, thanks to the protective mechanism of our sympathetic nervous system.

Shame and guilt are played out mostly in the mind. Fear is a systemic response and carries biologic value in the preservation of all thinking organisms. We are physically protected by our sense of danger. Fear releases adrenalin, which helps us to survive serious physical injury and helps us avoid danger. So when fear becomes pathological, it is very difficult to disconnect that physical reaction from something that in reality, is not dangerous, but we experienced a real reason for that fear, or were taught fear in situations that now no longer exist.

Fear can be smelled and tasted as well as felt. Some of our fears are reasonable and very real. But other fears we have are sometimes more a matter of our own projections than they are based in reality. Take a person who has a pathological fear of tornadoes. Now, they might have had a very real reason once upon a time to fear a tornado. Perhaps one leveled their house, or killed a loved one, or they had a "near miss." That's reasonable. But if they have moved to a place where a dark cloud makes them want to go to the basement, or they refuse to visit someone who doesn't have a basement because there "might" be a tornado, that's not reasonable. But that person may still hyperventilate, feel edgy or nervous, or break out in a sweat. That response is very, very real. So, in their mind, the fear is also "real."

But what we discover if we let our fears rule our lives is that every fear is a roadblock. Fear's power lies in its ability to create inertia--to force us to stop, turn around and go back the way we came, repeating the same old patterns. Fear freezes us, shuts us down, and puts blinders on us. As fear gains power, our vision becomes more and more tunneled. Eventually, if left unchecked, fear creates roadblocks on every single path we wish to travel towards the light of God. We find ourselves stuck, with no way out. We gain false comfort from clinging to the familiar when we are afraid, and it doesn't matter if the familiar is good for us or bad for us.

That, I believe is what happens when someone commits suicide. Their fears close them in, in such a way that they can no longer hear a kind word, feel a healing touch, or see any beauty in the world. It is a pain of such a magnitude they only way they can think of to remove that pain is to remove themselves from the world. Their blinders prevent them from seeing the light of God.

So how do we remove the roadblock of fear?

Honestly, I am not an expert. I succumb to my fears more than I care to admit. But this much I know: I often rely on my love of the Psalms, simply because the Psalmist is unafraid to spit his feelings out. I think of Psalm 13: "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" Railing at God is perfectly okay. Even Jesus railed at God when he was hanging on the cross, and relied on a psalm...Psalm 22..."My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" We so often attribute that in the Gospel as an original statement from Jesus, when in reality he was quoting a psalm. He relied on his understanding of the Bible to help him in his own suffering. I remind myself, "Ain't nothin' I can feel that Christ didn't feel before me."

I also remember that everyone, with the exception of Mary (who was not afraid, but "perplexed") is afraid when they see angels. Otherwise, why would the angels always say, "Don't be afraid?" I remind myself what sometimes feel like "demons" in my mind, might, in reality, be angels. I remind myself not to miss opportunities to see angels.

Finally, I also remember that in those same Psalms, in the same place where I hear the Psalmist rail against God and the world, are reminders that God is always present. Psalm 46 reminds us not only that "God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble," but three times in twelve verses says, "The Lord is with us."

In my prayer life, I pray to simply move. I don't care about the direction. Fear paralyzes. Movement, even movement in the wrong direction, is life. Fear makes us wish to sit in the dark. I ask God to simply move me to the light. I know in the light, I can sort things out.

If we can simply be "the people who walked in darkness who have seen a great light," the darkness cannot overpower us. The darkness cannot win.

O God of eternal light,
When we are afraid, we cannot move.
Show us your light in the lives of others.
Remind us that the darkness that lives between our ears
is never darkness in your sight,
that the deepest night is, to God,
as bright as the daylight.
We ask that you not only show us that light,
but move our feet towards it...one step at a time. Amen.

1 comments:

Thank you. Sometimes, just sometimes I remember to let go to God--usually at times that is clear I am overwhelmed and don´t have the answers to what I thought should be (but isn´t)...since the economic meltdown and my five eye surgeries my prudent reserves have been reduced to nil (medicare doesn´t apply off shore)--I hate that and I worry about any eventualities that would throw me into poverty--I also, spent lots of time in bed this last year (or sometimes working/painting very short spans or occupying myself at the computer)...result is I´ve gained weight and tired--NEVER in my life did I not have great energy, enthusiasm for life and drive. All of this makes me feel fear strongly. Not so much shame (something that got addressed very early on for me)--not anger (even though I´m a very fiesty lot and don´t suffer injustice well)--it´s the underlying fear of possible financial insecurity in my old age--yet, never in my life have I not ¨done well¨ (which included times when I wasn´t much of a good citizen)...when I feel entirely perplexed over my ¨issues¨ I realize that I must go to God...after I let go, no irresponsibly so, the answers do start appearing before--sometimes I´ve been known to cry-out to God in my silent prayers--I notice that works too. Being human is such a big deal but knowing the spiritual saves my often saves my peace of mind and even has saved my life--roadblocks are sometimes man-made and sometimes not...sometime covenient and sometimes not.

Love to you and yours dear K and may your inconvenient roadblocks be temporary and few...may a safe and wisely revealing detour be in the answers that come for all of us as we face obstructions and challenges down the road.

Leonardo

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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