What makes you afraid?
What makes your palms sweat, your stomach hurt, your heart seize up?
When I was little, I was afraid of witches, especially the Wicked Witch of the West. I was afraid of bad grades. Of going to the dentist. Of speaking in public. Of my parents’ deaths.
Now, as an adult, I’ve had many, many dentist visits. I’ve spoken in public, and I’ve made some bad grades.
I’ve been through the deaths of both my parents.
I’ve been through cancer.
So what scares me now? When I’ve actually experienced, actually lived through some of my greatest fears, what do I fear now? What fear stories do I tell myself?
I tell myself stories about the collapse of our society, the destruction of our world. But not often.
I tell myself stories about cancer’s coming back. But not often.
I tell myself that I won’t be able to earn a living. But not too often.
I still feel fear.
It sneaks up on me. I feel a contraction in my stomach. Or in my heart.
But now, unlike when I was young, I try to be with the fear, to let myself feel it. And as I feel it, when I don’t run away, it lessens. And it finally dissipates.
For now. Because it always comes back.
But what I’m discovering is that fear is not nearly as powerful as it once was.
Why is that?
It’s partially because I’ve lived through many experiences I once feared. And none were as bad at the stories I told myself about what would happen, what these terribly scary situations would be like, would feel like, how they might destroy me.
I’m more resilient than I thought.
I think we all are.
Beneath fear, beneath vulnerability, is something bigger than either of those.
You could call it courage.
But I’m going to call it another name.
Now, after facing, after going through many of my fears, I realize that beneath them all is something much more powerful.
It’s powerful even though it’s soft. It allows vulnerability. It doesn’t judge or criticize (yeah, I know I’m speaking Paul). It seems weak, but it’s not.
All of my FEAR stories?
None can stand up to Love.
When I’m soft, when I allow myself and others to be who we are when we are, Love has a chance to seep in.
And then it begins its transformation.
Do I understand it?
But I know it. And I trust it.
It comes through Grace.
I can’t think it. I can’t grasp it. I can’t wield it.
I can only open to it.
Yes, I have to be vulnerable. I have to feel my fear.
And then I turn it over to Love, the Transformer.
And in that instant, all is okay, all is fine.
Love is my story beneath all stories. And above them all. And within them all. And before and behind.
So who’s AFRAID?
I still am, sometimes.
And I still trust in Love.
Because Love always IS.