I’m a born fearer but I wear the mask of bravado well. If there’s a risk I’ll plan for it and if there’s a plan I’ll risk it. But there are knots tied up inside of me these past few months and I don’t know if I’m more afraid of what’s out there or what’s in here.
The old presidential adage, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” comes to mind these days because what I fear is not out there so much, but what arrests my soul, captivates my mind, and plays chicken with my heart. I fear the fear of a fear, or at the very least I fear the fear.
I’m reading a book about preaching to oneself and today’s chapter is on fear. I close the chapter and I receive a text message: “The truth is that God will do what He will do and provide what He will provide. Don’t be shackled by fear!” I look over my shoulder to see who else is following me, who has their finger on the pulse of my heart.
A week ago I sat across from two of my pastors and one asked, “What are you afraid of?” Not, “Are you afraid?” but “What do you fear?” We all fear something, one said, so what do you fear?
When you name the monsters in your closet and under your bed, you can personalize them or demonize them. This is what I am learning.
To name the fears is to say them right out loud: of being hated, of being unloved, of being alone, of being not enough, of being too much, of being misrepresented, and of misrepresenting. And their power is released in the naming, or the shackles cling tighter still. There seems no perfect potion for fear-loosing.
I am reading II Timothy this morning, the favorited passage: for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but power, love, and a sound mind. But further up it is Paul commendation to Timothy, his mother, and grandmother of their faith.
So often I think the opposite of fear is courage, but that is not it at all. Courage comes from within, daring comes from the belief that one cannot fail, bravery is the belief that even if one fails, it was a battle worth fighting.
But faith? Faith comes by hearing and by doing, but there is nothing of self in it. And I think on that this morning. All the questions of my heart are variations of can I? will I? should I? am I?
And all the answers of Him are finished: I already did.
For by grace you have been saved athrough faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.