I've recently been looking at fear & how it affects my spiritual journey. My sponsor recommended a book to me: Henri Nouwen's Inner Voice of Love
At first, I was skeptical. What could I possibly read that I hadn't read before? I was pleased to find this to be a particularly thin book with short entries. I perused a few & then came to rest on "Stand Erect In your Sorrow". In a nutshell, it's an encouragement to stay present in whatever kind of pain, sorrow, fear, etc., you may be experiencing. Avoid clicking into autopilot by complaining, looking for pity or just shutting down.
I get the image of a flower drooping & curling in on itself. If only it could lift up its head, drink in some sun & feel that its roots are still gripping the moist, nutritious soil that holds it steadfast...
I know that when I feel pain, sorrow or fear, everything tends to collapse within me. Darkness falls & I feel overwhelmed. I'm a droopy little flower. Woe is me, you know? Henri suggests that standing firm instead of retreating into myself when I feel the weight bearing down will help me remain connected to others. But I have an objection: if I "stand erect", everyone will see me! Well, isn't that the point? Don't I want help? Don't I want someone to recognize the pain & come alongside me? Obviously the answer is yes, right? Well... not so fast. If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that maybe I haven't really wanted to be seen... maybe I haven't been as open to help as I would like to believe. Being seen & receiving assistance from others requires something of me... change. And I think I'm afraid of change. I explored this in prayer the other day. I thought that it was only change I feared. Back in the Bible, John says fear has to do with punishment. If I am afraid of change, what's the punishment involved? Perhaps its the idea that part of my identity will be ripped away from me... I've staked a big part of it in the deceptive functionality of fear. But no, that wasn't all. Did I fear punishment from God? Oddly, no. But I actually realized I do fear the punishment of others. I don't "stand erect" & let others see me because I am afraid of how they might respond to me. It seems ridiculous. I can't know how they'll respond! But fear is a very good director, able to assign parts & scenes in moments. Who is my director- fear or the Spirit of God within me? Why so downcast oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him! Psalm 43:5