fear

14 12 2008

fear

when it comes to thinking about your life and the future… career, relationships, moves, life decisions, etc… i have come to realize there are two types of fear that are often encountered.

they are both rooted in “what if”, but they are very different.

the first is “what if it doesn’t…”, which can tend to have a paralyzing effect, keeping you tethered to the familiar.  the thoughts of it all falling apart keep a lot of people nestled in a comfort zone where, although not ideal, is consistent, predictable and safe.

the second and, in my experience, more powerful is “what if it does…”  this type can have an equally paralyzing effect, also hindering many people from cutting the proverbial umbilical cord, stepping into the unfamiliar and embracing the uncertain.  but here is where the road divides and the two are different.  rather than thoughts of it all falling apart, this type of fear brings with it thoughts of “what if it works and changes everything.”

i think it is the second type of fear that tends to be a catalyst to faith… when you no longer view your options as options at all, because quite often, options can be the enemy of faith.  when you realize that everything in your life could completely change and even though you have no idea what that might look like you are ready to embrace what’s next… that’s when things begin to happen.

some people have lived in a certain way or pattern for so long and have become accustomed to their particular situation.  they believe they have options and might do something different “someday”.  they believe that it is what it is, and fear of the waves keeps them on the shore.

then there are the kind of people who choose to shed the notion of options and embrace the challenge that comes with encountering the second type of fear, where the fear of the shore keeps them riding the waves.

i believe this was the kind of man Jesus encountered in luke 18.  how long he had been blind was immaterial.  when he heard Jesus was passing by, he knew his only other option was to continue to sit and beg… blind, and that really wasn’t an option at all.  surely he had built a lifestyle around his situation, one that catered to his particular disability, but he was tired of that.  staying the same was no longer optional, so he took a risk.    he called out to Jesus.

the bible says God has “planted eternity in the hearts of men,” and there is something about encountering that pivotal moment that connects with the eternal seed planted in each of us which challenges our limitations and dares us to do something we thought we could not do before.  something like… telling a blind man to see.

i love this piece by marianne williamson.  it speaks of the second type of fear… the fear that dares you to move, take a leap of faith and reach to embrace what has always been just beyond your grasp.  so, what if it does work and everything changes?  i dare you to find out.

our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. we ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? actually, who are you not to be? you are a child of God. your playing small does not serve the world. there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. we are all meant to shine, as children do. we were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. it’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

marianne williamson

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laugh, think, cry

19 05 2008

“to me, there are three things we all should do every day. we should do this every day of our lives. number one is laugh. you should laugh every day. number two is think. you should spend some time in thought. and number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. but think about it. if you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. that’s a heck of a day. you do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” ~ jim valvano





he knows what hurts within us

6 05 2008

“what made Jesus of nazereth the greatest lover in history is that he really knew then and he really knows now what hurts people… the loves and hates, hopes and fears, the joys and sadnesses of each of us…Jesus knows what hurts us. not only knows but, knowing, seeks us out – whatever our kind of poverty or pain, however we weep, wherever we feel unloved.

if you read the gospels carefully, you find how fine-tuned Jesus is to our loneliness, our frustration, our emptiness, our cynicism, as well he is to our joys and to our consolations; that he really know what hurts the human heart.

it shows up all throughout his public ministry on earth: with a sinful woman, the home of simon the pharisee, the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, with the adulterous woman in danger of stoning, with the thrice-denying peter, with the 23 year-old john in the upper room, with the widow weeping on the road to calvary, … it shows up in all those passages which describe Jesus as ‘having compassion’.

the greek verb ‘splagxniðzomai’ is used 12 times in the 4 gospels and is usually translated into english as ‘he was moved with compassion’. however, because of the poverty of our english vocabulary we really don’t capture the etymological meaning of splagxniðzomai, and depending on which translation of the bible you may use, it may say ‘he was moved with pity’, ‘he felt sorry for them’, or ‘his heart went out for them’, but they all miss the deep emotional flavor of this greek verb, … which is derived from another greek term meaning ‘bowels’, ‘intreals’ and ‘intestines’… the deepest parts of a person from which the strongest emotions such as love and hatred arise.

when you read in the gospels that Jesus was moved with compassion, it was saying that his gut was wrenched, his heart torn open, and the most vulnerable part of his being laid bare. and Jesus says to us, don’t ever be so foolish as to measure my compassion for you in terms of your compassion for one another.

when we speak of Jesus, as Emmanuel, as God with us, we are saying the greatest lover in history really knows what hurts us. There is absolutely nothing that Jesus does not understand about the pain that hangs like a darkening cloud over our lives.

if you are crying out and longing for a hand to touch you, an arm to embrace you, lips to kiss you… longing for someone who is not afraid of your cynicism, your skepticism, your indifference, your shallow faith, your inconsistent discipleship, … there comes a sacred man who says, ‘it’s ok. i understand, i am here, i am with you, i am for you, and your pain reverberates in the depth of my own being.”

—– brennan manning (excerpt from “he knows what hurts within us”)