As I stare down this long road of what I have intended The Metanoia Project to become, I am struck by the fact that I am very afraid of several things:
- I’m afraid that I will run out of things to say
- I’m afraid that what I have to say will not be found helpful.
- I’m afraid that this is a passing fad on my part, and that I will lose interest and look like a fool.
- I’m afraid that I will work very hard at this and it will never take off.
- I’m afraid that my schedule will prevent me from doing the work I need to do to be effective with this ministry.
- I’m afraid that the trolls will come and make my life hell.
The list could go on, but you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?
I’ll hazard a guess that there hasn’t been one of us – at one time or another – who didn’t stare down the long road we were about to walk and freeze. The thought of taking on something important was so overwhelming that we had to, at several points, will ourselves to not turn around and run home to mommy and daddy. We’ve all been there. Fear is a potent reality when you have decided to affect change. We all know what that feels like, and no one likes it.
The Fear of the Lord
In Proverbs we read that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I have always been struck by the use of the word “fear,” and love to read, listen to, and participate in discussions about the definition of the word. Most of the time, I find, people try to define the fear that is due the Lord in terms of the fear we experience when we are afraid of other things in our lives. I think maybe it works better the other way around.
I want to say that all other fear we experience is a derivative, or bastardization, of the fear of the Lord. It is right that we fear the Lord, for (as Paul Tillich taught us) God is the one who determines our existence. It is right that we should, frankly, be afraid of this awesomeness that we call God because we believe what the scriptures say when they tell us that nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God. This god can reach across the boundaries of existence because this god is the one who determines and erects the boundaries of existence, because this god stands outside the boundaries of existence.
I mean – seriously – what has that kind of power? Well, God does, and that should makes us stop in our big-ego pants for a lot longer than it does. (Can I get an “amen”?)
The Fear of Other Stuff
And so, when we look at all the other things we fear, they seem kind of silly in comparison to God, don’t they? This is the point I want us to grasp: Why do we insist on giving what someone else might say/do/think/feel the same kind of honor we give to God?
I’m not suggesting we put our heads in the sand. I’m reminding us to place things in proper perspective. All the other things in life, while possibly important, do not deserve to have my fear directed at them. As I look at my list above, it makes me remember that even if the trolls come and bring me great displeasure, I should not allow the fear of that to determine my actions. If I believe that God has called me to engage in this ministry then the problems that the trolls might cause are negligible and manageable compared to the fact that God is the one who will decide if I exist tomorrow. It sounds silly to say it that way, but its the truth. In fact, that’s precisely why I like to say it that way, out loud. When I can name these fears, it helps me put them in perspective.
This practice is even more important when the thing that we would be afraid of is very big, ugly, and powerful. In those instances, being able to name the fear is of utmost importance. It’s like Harry Potter calling Voldemort by name when everyone else was afraid to. Is it any wonder that he was the one who was able to stand up to the most evil wizard of all time? It’s not that “He Who Should Not Be Named” was a merely a nuance and the magical community was trying to deny him his due. It was that they were afraid and that fear was paralyzing. Except for Harry, who was able to place his feelings in proper perspective and work from a place of proactivity rather than reactivity. His ability to simply call a thing (or person) what it was is quite possibly the reason he was able to keep going in the face of great harm.
So…What are you afraid of that you shouldn’t be? What are you allowing to hold power over you by way of offering it your fear? What is your “Thing That Should Not Be Named”?