For me, this includes the act of fear as well as the word itself. There is great joy in my life just now, and immense relief, and the one thing that keeps me from being free in prayer, it seems, is fear – from the “what ifs” to that strange inner resistance we sometimes encounter towards holding still for prayer.
The first day, I found fear arising in the background as my husband awaited final word on a job offer. It helped to deliberately turn toward God within and keep reaffirming trust for whatever outcome we might be facing. [He got the job!] Being in community as I deliberately turned away from fear toward God made the wisdom of turning more believable, and afforded accountability. As perfect loves casts out fear, I consider this adventure together an act of love.
My life is saturated with fear. Fear of my past, of my future. Fear of who I am – and am not. Fear of what I have done and what I have not done. Jesus says to the disciples, “Be not afraid.” Over and over, he tells them this, for they are bound by fear. I offered up ‘fear’ from my internal vocabulary during a time when I was hospitalized for a compulsive illness that had wrapped its insidious tendrils around my soul and body. When I was no longer clutching fear, I had the freedom to cling to Christ. As I brought my affliction into the light, I was given clarity to see that God’s mercy is sustenance enough for my need. This offering is a practice: imperfect and incomplete. As I slowly begin to heal, I must give my fear to God, over and over. Yet I know it is Jesus’ words in my heart, patient and abiding: “Be not afraid.”