Leaving Fear Behind
If there is something that I would have to say is my worst quality, I would say it is my complete inability to be decisive. About absolutely anything. If you offered me a cookie with frosting, and a cookie without, it would take me a considerable amount of time for me to make a decision. I mean, I'd have to weigh the options (frosting has more sugar, gets on your face, but it's so good, but also, the other one seems a little overbaked and bland without it...). Also, there are much harder decisions to make, regarding our futures, education, employment, and families.
So, lately I've been looking at my life, observing others, and thinking about what truly motivates us. What gets us out of bed in the morning, what gives us the strength to do all the activities that we sign ourselves up for, what gives us the stamina to do hard things, why do we continue to do things, in what disposition do we strive? What thought process do we use to make our decisions? And why is it so hard?
I'm observing, in myself and in others, that so many of our decisions, as well as how we approach our friendships, relationships, activities, work, school, are motivated by fear. We study because we're afraid of a bad grade, not getting into a college, not getting the job we want, resulting in an unhappy life. Sometimes we find ourselves pursuing friendships merely because we're afraid of losing them, pursuing relationships merely because we're afraid of being alone. Staying in our old familiar ways and sins, becoming attached to certain people and circumstances because we're afraid of change. Not starting a conversation because we're afraid of people rejecting us, or not liking us. Signing up for a million extracurriculars because we're afraid of that inadequate resume. I could go on. You see how much our culture is motivated by fear? And isn't it evident how stressed out and tired we all are?
And I think that sometimes, we approach our relationship with God in the same way. Sometimes I sit in Church, or read Scripture, and I'm filled with this inexplicable wave of peace and joy. That security and beauty that comes from a life trusting in the Lord. And He is so present in that moment!
But soon, sometimes almost immediately after walking out of those Church doors, I become afraid of what I will do if I lose Him. If I lose grasp of His peace and fall into despair again. And it always happens. God inevitably brings us through spiritual highs and lows to keep drawing us to Him. I try to grasp Him, to hold onto Him with knuckles white so I don't feel my inherent brokenness again. This too is a fear, a fear of losing God.
But of course it is impossible, as St. Paul says in Romans 8:38-39:
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Woah. Just pause and think about how amazing that is for a minute. A verse that allows your soul to breathe a little.
Fear is Just a Lie.
Here's another verse I would like to talk about.
"There is no fear in love." (1 John 4:18)
And God is Love. Therefore, there is no fear in God. There is no fear included in His Will, no fear included in His Love. Any feelings of fear are not of God. They come from the one who wants desperately to separate us from God. There is a reason that it says hundreds and hundreds of times in Scripture, "Do not be afraid."
The reason Man fell in the Garden of Eden was because Satan played on Eve's paranoia that God was holding out on her, and that she needed to eat from the tree of knowledge so she could gain whatever it was that she was missing.
We've undoubtedly inherited that unrest from Eve. The unrest that comes from believing that God is holding out on us, or the fear that He will. That by drawing closer to Him we will lose something that makes us and our lives beautiful and precious and special.
Sisters, this is a lie.
When we're living in fear, we don't give our lives room to breathe. We attempt to control our interactions, the situations around us, and the people in our lives. This tenses us up, harming ourselves and the people around us. An obsessive need for control over our lives is a good sign that we are motivated by fear.
By not giving in to fear, we say YES to faith. We proclaim a resounding "yes" to God and His Will. We are courageous. Our hearts are at rest, and joyful, because they are filled with the amazing realization of His infinite goodness.
We must take a good look at ourselves, and what motivates us. Let us shift our focus, and allow faith in God to reside in our hearts instead of anxiety.
"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
Let us strive to do our best, and to thrive, rather than striving against inadequacy. Let us run toward the optimal outcome, instead of merely away from the worst case scenario. Any fear of inadequacy, of not getting it all done, of not getting the life we want, of the Lord abandoning us, of being rejected, of the future, of our own emotions and situations, melts away in the eyes of Faith, in the absence of fear. It is one of the most freeing realizations we will ever experience when we say we're done with being afraid. Let us not be a people motivated by fear.
Pope Francis asked these questions in 2015 to young Cubans living in a pretty desolate situation: What is it that shapes your life? What lies deep in your heart? Where do your hopes and aspirations lie?"
Is it fear and obsessing over our anxiety that shapes our life, lies deep in our hearts, forms our decisions, or is it faith and unwavering trust in our loving Father, who lavishes upon us security, joy, and salvation.
My name is Julia, and I've had the pleasure of growing up in the beautiful state of Michigan. Currently, I'm a junior in high school who is just trying to figure out what it means to be a truly authentic woman of Our Lord, and how to write about it. I have two sisters, both younger than me, and have had the blessing of being homeschooled through middle school. During my freshman year I experienced a real conversion to Christ and have been falling more deeply in love with Him ever since.