Words to Ponder
The above quote from Mandela has been sitting and simmering on my soul all week long. So often I believe our choices are more grounded and guided by fear than by hope. Fears that someone might make more money than us, gets us up early in the morning into the office. Fears that our neighbors might have a better vacation keeps us always trying to feed Facebook positive images. Fear is the tool our political parties seem to return to time and time again. This is not new.
When Jesus was born, Herod was so paranoid by a baby that he ordered all male infants killed...so Jesus and his family fled in fear. During Jesus' life, the Pharisees feared that Jesus was eating with the wrong people so they accused him of being a glutton and drunkard. Jesus died because he was misunderstood by people. Crucifixion was a weapon of fear. Jesus came to confront fear. This doesn't mean that fear is completely removed from our lives...perhaps far from it.
We know fear all too well. And we misunderstand fear all too often. We think fear should always be avoided at all costs. Just look confident. Fake it until you make it. Just puff your chest out and look like you are in control...even as your insides churn relentlessly.
Jesus faced fear. I believe, Jesus felt fear too. He prayed in the garden for God to remove this cup. Fear is part of our life. We cannot avoid it or admonish it. But as another one of my favorite author says, Elizabeth Gilbert, "Don't let fear pick the radio station."
That is one of those quotes, along with Mandela's above, we nod enthusiastically to right now. But then...then when something happens in the news, fear comes knocking on the door. But then...then when the political party that is not align with you does something that you are against and feel powerless....fear is suddenly in the kitchen making you a taco. But then...then the doctor utters some words you never wanted to year...fear is now not only as close as your next breath but feels caught in the back of your throat.
We cannot control fear. We acknowledge it. We listen to why it is here. One of the ways you take the power away from fear is to stop denying it and instead start a dialogue with it. Fear will always break down in the face of our logical and loving sides ~ especially when those two sides team up.
So, what is it you are fearing right now? In your life, in your family, in your community, in the country and the world? Name the fear...notice that it is always there. But don't only listen...talk back to fear. Tell it, in a calm and centered voice, that you know where it is coming from...but there is also that song of hope that wants to be heard from our heart. The hope that today is not like yesterday... and tomorrow has promise and possibility of its own too.
Tell fear that it needs to rest its case...and then let hope take the stand to offer a testimony that life is more than just one side.
And may there be more than a trace of God's grace in this practice for you this week.