Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CONFRONT YOUR FEARS


#6 of 10 ways to reveal your heart of faith when faith feels like little more than a leftover.

Compressed for Twitter:

#6 Confront your fears. Quit denying, avoiding, excusing. Do the thing you fear. Courage will be given you as you do.

Decompressed for context and comments:

Faith can come to feel like little more than a leftover because we learn to manage fear-avoidance so well.  Fear frequently lurks behind compensating fa├žades of toughness, controlling behavior, possessive relationships, hyper privatization and security, religiosity and/or obsessive patterns.  Religion can be malpracticed as fear avoidance.  We may function highly in many aspects of life while effectively avoiding core fears, thus distorting the whole.

Fear is not the cause or trigger for faith.  Beware those who use fear to try to instigate faith.  But nothing surfaces and focuses faith like challenging one’s fears.  And nothing relegates faith and courage to the leftover pile like living in fear avoidance.

Parker J. Palmer says, “While we all have fears, we do not have to become or be our fears.”  When avoidance, compliance, compromise and complete self-effort frame our horizons, perhaps we are ready to hear--from a variety of ancient and contemporary sources--the first imperative to people in faith stories: “Do not be afraid!”

For starters, dare to try to name the fear or fears that impact your thinking and behaviors.  With a confidant’s help, try to discern their actual validity.  We can be driven by false perceptions of the way things are or what others think of us.  Naming our fears is critical to disarming them.

Then, stop running from fears; turn and face them.  When we choose to confront fears, we usually find uncommon courage.  Many who confront their fears describe a sense of divine help.  We may also find that the thing we feared wasn't as big as we had made it in our imaginations.  Real and menacing, yes, but not worth immobilizing and defining us for so long.

“Love casts out fear” is, to me, one of the most enduring and powerful realities of my particular stream of faith.  Fear isn’t cast down and held at bay merely by willpower and vigilance.  Fear is displaced by love—a love that is both vigilant and hopeful, strong and supple, wise and winning.


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Read all 10 actions (in Twitter's 140-character format) that can reveal your heart of faith when faith feels like little more than a leftover.

I will continue posting comments on all 10 actions over the next few days.

Your responses and comments are welcome.

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