Wednesday, February 23, 2011

a meditation on fear - and faith

I was surprised to find this insight in an online article on the recent protests in the Middle East, and specifically in Bahrain:  "The willingness to resort to violence against largely peaceful demonstrators was a sign of how deeply the monarchy fears the repercussions of a prolonged wave of protests."  Take that statement out of its cultural and political contexts; does that kind of fear sound familiar?  I was very familiar with it during the years I taught special education.  If anyone made the slightest critical comment, or even a neutral comment that I interpreted as critical, about my students or my teaching, "Mama Bear" roared up within me.  Fire burned in my chest and lit my eyes, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and my claws came out.  Do you know that fear?  This fear may have first been born in us out of a need for safety, in response to protestors or mother nature or drunk drivers or something else.  Our world is shaken and we get a glimpse of a possibility that we may not have as much control over our lives as we pretend to.  But when we react to that realization with even greater fear and greater attempts at control, the fear evolves into something much more deadly and self-serving, doing violence to ourselves and others.

This morning as I prayed about this a small voice within me, a train of thought, caught my attention:  "But we have to fear."  What?  What was that?  Where did that come from?  I decided to follow it and see where it led.  "We have to fear, we must be diligent in defending and protecting ourselves because if we don't, we'll lose everything - the relationships, jobs, activities, etc. we've built our lives into, as well as the foundation of beliefs, values, and worldviews we've built them upon.  If that happens, then we will no longer exist.  We will have no way in which to define who we are.  We have to fear, we must have enemies, because we rely upon them to tell us who we are, that we do exist, and that we have worth."  And so we build a fence, direct a conversation, buy shoes, post a comment, or write a blog sometimes for perfectly healthy reasons and sometimes because we need to check and make sure that we are here, that others notice us, and we are okay.

Since I quit teaching full-time I've been led bit-by-bit to discover the myriad of ways in which I give life to this kind of fear within myself and ways to let it go and place my faith in something greater.  Of course I mean in God, who means so many different things to different people.  For me, God is the source of authentic life, the goal of life, and the primary, ultimate keeper of everything in between.

This is a blog post, not a thesis, so I'll let you take whatever you want from here and run with it.  Faith in God is not a blind faith, unless you've never dared to truly look.

"When we were children, we used to think that when we grew up, we would no longer be vulnerable.  But to grow up is to accept vulnerability.  To be alive is to be vulnerable."  Madeleine L'Engle

"After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is."  Oswald Chambers

Rom. 8:35-39:  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?...I am convinced that neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord...." who is Life.

If all else fails:

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