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I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

07 Tishrei 5774: Fear

Fear is a liar.

Fear keeps me rooted in place, unmoving and sheathed in ice. When I listen to its sibilant whispers, I stop. I hide. I avoid. I stay safe.

It is so easy. looking at it from this vantage point-- of a spiritually fit place, where I feel as if I fit comfortably in my own skin and have no need to look over my shoulder to judge the distance between me and the eleventy-seven thousand demons who are hot on my trail and ready to pounce-- it is so easy to say "Fear is a liar. Why should I listen to whispers in the dark?"

Trouble is, I don't always feel comfortable in my own skin. I am not always spiritually fit, confident and breathing easy. Ha! There are times I need to be reminded to breathe at all. And fear-- those lies can be so seductive. When I am feeling prickly and outside and less-than, those lies can flow though me and around me like warm honey. 

Remember Lucy, asking Charlie Brown to kick the football while she holds it steady? Time and again, he winds up flat on his back, caught once again in the web of Lucy's broken promises. My fear is like that. Against my better judgement, regardless of all prior experience, I get sucked in, laid low by my fear.

This is not God-fear. This is not the fear and trembling of standing under Sinai or waiting at the cold and dark waters of an unparted Sea. This is not the fear and awe of standing at the gates, of return and redemption.  This is the fear that robs you of hope, breaks your spirit and keeps you rooted: stuck, unmoving, trapped.

I have heard that fear is the opposite of faith, that is I have faith enough, I will never be afraid. I don't agree. Faith and fear can coexist. Here's the thing of it: my faith will not stop my fears, will not stop the whispered lies-- but enough faith will keep me moving. I don't know that faith can move mountains; I know for a fact that faith can move my feet, allow me to put one foot in front of the other, walk through the fear, so that I can get to the other side, face whatever is in front of me. Every time.

As I prepare to stand before God in a few days (that formal stand-before-God, because I believe, absolutely, that I stand with God, always, just as  God stands with me, always), as I prepare to stand without artifice or design, ready to walk through the gates that are opened for us all, I have to be willing to leave the things that hold me back, hold me in place behind. I have to be willing to leave the fear that feels so safe and comfortable, because it is so familiar, because it is so powerful and all-encompassing, I have to leave the fear behind.

I have to let it go, along with my brokenness, my cynicism, my impatience. I have to be willing to walk away from Lucy and her football and not play the game.

I have to put one foot in front of the other. And later, and again, when fear grips me, when I feel broken and lost and utterly alone, when fear whispers its lies to me in the dark-- I will put my faith in my feet and keep walking.