The unknown. It’s a really scary place, full of questions and concerns, and no one person to go to for help or advice. It’s also an extremely broad fear, which makes things really scary, because it seems like there’s no one expert to whom you can turn.
As Father Roger said in his Sunday message this weekend, our parish today embarks on a year-long journey of reflection on the need for healing and spiritual wellness in our lives. Some of us, however, may feel a great deal of resistance to the idea of probing too deeply into our spiritual and emotional selves. In many ways, it may be like going to the doctor. The scary list of “what ifs” can get really long: What is going to happen to me there? What if I get bad news? What if the problem is too big and can’t be fixed? Like latrophobia, or fear of doctors, the resistance to getting better spiritually most often is rooted in fear of the unknown.
So, where does one start to begin addressing fear of the unknown? One of the first (and best) steps to take in combating fear of the unknown is writing down what makes you fearful. It seems silly and obvious, but writing down our fears pulls them out of the abstract recesses of our brains and forces them into concrete reality. Seeing our fears on paper can help us identify how to deal with the “what ifs.” In other words, physical lists help us to organize our hectic brains.
But lest you worry about a big, scary list of fears staring up at you, our faith has us covered even then. In Isaiah 43:1, it is written, “this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’”
And, there’s a wonderful piece of advice in Matthew 6:34 that addresses fear of the future, pretty much the biggest unknown that ever was: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
There’s a popular poem called “Footprints in the Sand,” in which a person reflects on scenes from his or her life while walking along the ocean. The person sees God’s footprints beside the individual’s own, except in the lowest and darkest of times, and asks God, why did you leave me, at those particular moments, when I needed you the most? God responds, “I love you and will never leave you . . . . When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
However clichéd and circulated this poem is, it illustrates that the Lord really does walk with us always. He has claimed us for his own. He has claimed each and every part of us and our lists of big, scary fears. And, he’ll carry us when we need it. When we can remember that immutable truth, then we don’t have to be so afraid, even of looking within ourselves for a few spiritual soft spots. Our God will be there to carry us along the way.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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