It is always something.
There was a line in Mitch’s meditation this week that got my attention. (The 8 minute meditation replaced the Sunday sermon, the new normal.) It was one of those moments of recognition when we read something that describes or illuminates our own experience, an experience we haven’t really had the words to accept.
The Israelites were first afraid of Pharaoh and his punishment, then the army chasing them, then the wilderness where they were headed. Notice how their fear moved from place to place, person-to-person, and event to event.
I know what it means to lead with fear. “What if’s” catch me before I do seemingly inconsequential and radical things. I’m afraid of how I will be perceived; I’m afraid of not doing enough. I am afraid of not knowing the ‘right’ thing, the most beneficial thing. I don’t have to go back too far to recognize my own pattern.
When we lived in rural North Vernon and began planning our move less than 50 miles away, I was so afraid to tackle the housing market. I did nothing to look for a place, even when I was there for school several days a week. I was afraid of the cost and competition in the larger university town. I was afraid of the risk of living into that new unknown.
In a year or two, I was afraid Mitch’s job would end and then what would we do next? Then I worried about how we would physically move two States away when I was the one with the new job and our dog had surgery, our daughter got married, and a close family member was critically ill. And like all the times before, people, places, and events unfolded in time not my own.
Oddly, when my job ended at that next place, I wasn’t afraid of what was ahead. Maybe I was leaning in to the in-between with openness instead of fear, if only for a while. Until, I knew what was next. Until, I knew that we would be moving across the country and into the next. Again, I was afraid that we wouldn’t find a place in a city with competitive and costly housing, immigration challenges, and an island with no roads to get there.
I could go on – all the fear of being settled or not, of immigration unknowns, of getting older, of distance from our family. I never thought about a pattern of fear moving between people, events, and places. And again, where will we be next? There is always a next. And maybe, that vulnerability is what I ‘m most afraid of.
I never named my anxious presence fear. I intuited that I am just trying to get it right, this one life. I long to belong, to find my place, to be settled, to be home.
“What would my life be like if I wasn’t afraid?” might seem the logical question to ask. But maybe, I can see my way through by asking, “how do I fall through the fear to the other side?”
I can feel a wee bit of panic coming now, and I can feel it go. Moment-by-moment, I have the ability to let go of control, let go of security, let go of my desire to change the situation, and open to the spaciousness of acceptance.
In a prayer routine I wrote for myself more than ten years ago is this step: take counsel with my certitudes, not my doubts and fears.
I’m not exactly sure where I found that phrase, but it doesn’t matter. It is true.
I am certain that in all those transitions of my life, I have always had enough to take the next step. I am certain that God is taking that step with me.
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
It is something.