Fear Itself

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

I find this quote inspiring and infuriating at the same time.  Fear itself is really very….scary.

I have been having horrible dreams of late.  Wake up in the middle of the night and grab on to J. dreams.  Go into E.’s room to make sure she’s okay dreams.  Dreams about being kidnapped, attacked, or worse.  Dreams about people doing terrible things to me or to people I love and being powerless to stop it or to help them.

And the truth is, really bad things do happen.  This world is broken.  There is a lot of ugliness in the world and there is nothing I can do that will erradicate it.

My friend M. sells tie-dyes at the market I go to on Saturday mornings.  She is this really cool hippie buddhist chick.  When I was there today she showed me a new wall hanging she was selling and told me about it.  It was the world in a peace sign and surrounded by a heart.  She told me that the heart represented the Bodhisattvas.  When I admitted that I have no idea what that means and asked her to explain, she was happy to.  Basically she said they are enlightened beings who take all of our bad and filter it, giving us back good.

Not being a buddhist I didn’t know any of that (I had to look ‘bodhisattva’ up on Wikipedia to know how to spell it) but I have to say it sounds like a great deal to me.  But it also made me think about my own faith.  What am I to do with all my badness/fear/sadness/anger?  How am I to feel about raising children in such a broken world?

A couple of things that come to my mind are:

“Cast your anxiety on Christ, for he cares for you.” – I Peter 5:7

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”  I John 4:18

Fear can be a basic biological response.  I’m not talking about getting rid of the fear that will cause me not to walk down a dark alley at 2 in the morning if I see potential attackers there.  But there are other ways that fear will work its way in and take over my very way of relating to everyone and everything around me.  It can be crippling.

And it shouldn’t be.

I think my fear is a forgetting of God as my Father.  I think it’s a lack of trust–I have simply not learned object permanence with God.  I’ll try my hand at a makeshift parable.

When E. was new, she would cry if we tried to play ‘peekaboo’ with her.  She really thought we disappeared when our hands were in front of our face.  Then that was okay.  Next step–be out of sight for 10 seconds.  10 steps later–go to another room by myself.  She would come running after me, shrieking, “Where you go?”

Now, she’s mostly okay if I tell her where I’m going.  As long as she’s not upset about something.  But if she is, I just have to settle in and realize I’m going to have a 2 year old watching me use the toilet.

Not that God uses the toilet (at least not the one at my house) but I have to think He’s even more patient with me since I am doing this without having a physical place to follow Him to.  Also He’s just infinitely more patient and loving than I am.  I lose sight so often and get wrapped up in my own worst-case scenarios.  It’s like E. assuming I will go to the basement to change the laundry and never come back.  I just try to remind her I am there, that I love her and that mommies come back.  And I try to remind myself that God is at least as good to me as I am to my daughter.

In that vein, one last quote:
“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil {read: broken; imperfect}, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

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