Fear seems to tower over me with its spindly fingers every day. And every day I feel ashamed. Aren’t I supposed to be stronger, bolder, more confident than this, I shouldn’t be coming up against fear still?
I also sense the arms of Love outstretched in my direction every day. And every day I do my best to shake the unworthiness from my soul, This astounding acceptance, will it always feel so foreign?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who witnesses how fear and love dance about us awkwardly.
Fear: cower in your corner. Love: come out from your comfortable hiding places.
Fear: stay put. Love: board the plane for new lands.
Fear: stuff your words down. Love: speak up.
Fear: lower my gaze from their eyes. Love: reach out with a warm welcome.
Fear: color within the lines. Love: explore the fringes.
Fear: build a barricade, protect yourself from danger. Love: build bridges across every boundary line.
Fear: makes us lethargic, anemic, and we dawdle around without expectation, empty of vibrant hope. Love: fuels us with energy to move and to sweat, summoning us from our slumber.
Fear: turns dreams dull and drab. Love: brings back the color of our imagination and wonder.
Fear: stand aloof from your present, ignore the beauty of your reality. Love: unwrap the gift of the here and the now and call it the best present.
Fear: you’re locked in forever. Love: let’s go!
Fear: harbinger of the infamous worst-case scenario headlines, pelting us even the most peaceful among us with panic and sleepless nights. Love: tucks us in with a smile even though storms rage on.
Fear: wreaks havoc on our hearts. We become harsh and judgmental with ourselves. Love: reminds us how to be kind, to hold ourselves in a posture of openness and receptivity.
Fear: you are held hostage inside your own life, walled in on every side with worry and anxiety. Love: you are released to run with delight.
Fear: strips us of our innate belonging in this world. Love: declares we are all children of God and we are good.
Fear: keeps us looking at our fellow brother and sisters across the world with a side eye, always thinking the other, those different than us, are somehow evil. Love: pronounces blessing and purpose over every human being and creature on this earth, weaving us all intricately together as one.
Elizabeth Gilbert writes about her decision to, “cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go. I even have a welcoming speech prepared for fear, which I deliver right before embarking upon any new project or adventure.”
But she is also puts fear in its rightful place, “I recognize and respect you are a part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still-your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.”
I own up to all the times I’ve shuddered, slunk back, and signed off on fear’s detrimental desires for my life. And as I mentioned above, I’ve felt ashamed for feeling this fear. But let’s just call that nonsense, shall we?
We can stop pretending fear doesn’t exist in our life.
In fact, let’s acknowledge it and even appreciate it for its attempts to get our attention and allure us back to safety.
But then, let’s be simultaneously swept up in the flow of Love all around us.
Before you remind me that there is no fear in love, let me just clarify. I’m not saying we mix them together, not at all. But I am suggesting that we become honest enough to hold them both.
Fear and love are constantly whirling all around us. This is a normal part of our existence and of what it means to be a human.
As we become literate in the language of both love and fear, we are able to develop the brave practice of greeting fear, while at the same time granting Love permission to be our guide, to move us.
To move towards others- sharing stories and tears without the need to interrupt or give advice, but only to stand with them and say, “I hear you, I see you, and I love you.”
To move our body- letting our lungs and legs be a liturgy, reminding us we are capable of doing hard things. Our salty sweat and consistent steps are a sign that we are committed to being more than a bystander, but a participant in our life.
To move in our creativity- giving birth to our ideas and dreams, to usher them into the light and allow them to breathe in a world waiting to see our heart come alive.
To move towards natural beauty- connecting our souls with what makes us stand in childlike awe and wonder, finding our place and purpose once again beneath the spacious starlit sky.
Fear and love. There will always be both, but only one invites us to follow the ambiguous road into an irrefutable adventure.
Love waits patiently for our response every day, will you move with me?