Fear is a 4-letter F word.
I’m familiar with fear. We’re acquaintances, not friends. Fear drums the backbeat to the chorus of the naysayers in my mind that tell me I can’t, that I’m not (fill in the blank) enough. This is the kind of fear that can stop me dead in my tracks, quit, and crawl under the covers. I wish I could break up with fear forever. I wish we could part ways and never see it lurking around me ever again.
Times of transition can be fraught with fear, especially fear of the future and the unknown. After surrendering personal will to divine will, I would’ve thought that “letting go and letting God” would get a whole lot easier. I would ride the beautiful wave of flow and synchronicity from here on out! But I’m a human with an ego mind that thinks it knows better than God. Enter fear.
It’s as if I’m saying, I trust you…I think?!
Two summers ago, I was standing knee deep in a spring water pool at Lourdes and the English-speaking attendant asked me if I wished to say a prayer to Mary, the Blessed Mother. My mind went blank! Then I remembered. Fear. I put down all of my fears of the pilgrimage, fears of future, fears of truly knowing myself, fears of what I’m being called to do with this life before the Blessed Mother and prayed that those fears might become feelings of love instead.
And I felt liberated, for a while at least until the credit card bill arrived and the rent came due. And then God reminded me how he had my back during the journey. Everything I worried about, like how I would manage the trains, where I’d sleep, money and sticking to a small budget and the spiritual experiences I would have all fell beautifully into place. It’s as if to say, “See, you had nothing to worry about! This is what life could always be like if you trust.”
Yes, I would like that. No fear, just trust.
So why do I continue to surrender my fears to God only to take them back up again?
Henri Nouwen writes a beautiful reminder to “Rely on Your Spirit Guides”:
It is far from easy to keep living where God is. Therefore, God gives you people who help to hold you in that place and call you back to it every time you wander off. Your spiritual guides keep reminding you of where your deepest desire is being fulfilled. You know where that is, but you distrust your own knowledge.
So rely on your spiritual guides. They may at times be stern and demanding or seem unrealistic, as though they are not considering all your needs. But it is when you lose your confidence in them that you are most vulnerable. As soon as you start saying to yourself, “My guides are getting bored with me; they talk about me without letting me in on their conversations; they treat me as a patient who should not be told everything about his condition,” you are most susceptible to outside attacks.
Let nothing come between you and your spiritual guides. When you find yourself tempted to distrust them, let them know immediately so that they can prevent your imaginings from leading you further away from them, can restore your confidence in them and can affirm their commitment to you.
Almost a year ago at the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I stood before the Blessed Mother and spoke to her with a heart full of sorrow and fear. And she replied in my heart, reminding me that I gave her all of my fears that day in Lourdes. And stop taking them back!
Yes, they may seem stern and demanding or seem unrealistic as though they are not considering all MY needs. But the Blessed Mother, my beloved spirit guide, has to get through to me somehow. God has to get through to me somehow to give up the fear. Over and over and over again. However many times that it takes to give up the fear and the need to control everything and allow some space for divine wisdom grow.
Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. New York: Doubleday, 1998. Print.