If you had asked me eight years ago if I lived fearfully, I would’ve said, “Absolutely not!” I might’ve added I was cautious, but I certainly hadn’t seen myself as someone scared all the time.
Ironically, it was after I spent a crazy, other-worldly night in the haunted Goldfield Hotel that I realized that multiple anxieties guided much of my daily life, instead of faith in the Most Divine.
For most of my life, I mislabeled fear. Perhaps some of you do, too. Here are four examples from my pre-Goldfield existence:
- I feared God. I’d internalized the teachings about a fire and brimstone deity, one that would smite me at any little infraction. Even worse, I’d believed the Great I Am allowed (and perhaps even encouraged) the dark side to toy with me and lure me to eternal damnation.
- I worried. While I hadn’t been a chronic worrier, I’d fretted over keeping my job, maintaining some level of health and how I thought others perceived me.
- I suffered from self-doubt. I now recognize this was an amplified result of being too hard on myself and focusing on my shortcomings, which led to a fear that I could never be good enough. Whenever I’d catch myself doing this, I’d justify it by thinking I was only being modest.
- I judged others. This directly relates to the previous point. Since I hadn’t had much faith in myself, I’d been anxious that others would judge me. So, I beat them to the punch and I judged them.
It is impossible to live in fear and in faith at the same time.
These two outlooks cannot coexist as both fear and faith are rooted to the future (even if the future is just seconds ahead in time). But while faith is affirming, fear robs me of my ability to savor the present. Each time trepidation lodges a thought in my mind, it distances me from my Lord and from true joy.
My first step in changing my response was recognizing the Great I Am is the origin of unconditional love. So fear cannot have a place in this sacred relationship. As 1 John 4:16 and 18 state, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him….There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not perfect in love.” (New International Version)
See next week’s post on “Useful fear vs. fearful living.”