ARE WE FREAKING OUT OR FINDING FAITH?
Let's start with prayer: Father, Mother, God; we give thanks that you are the God of refuge. You are mighty, powerful, righteous, and true. Today, we come to you in prayer asking for your love, protection, and provision. We know you are the one true source of hope. We know that you are a place of refuge and a constant presence of love and support for all those experiencing fear, anxiety, and loneliness. Please care for the physical needs of those who are struggling to provide for their families. Bring peace and healing to those who have lost loved ones or are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. We come to you for hope and guidance during times of uncertainty. It's through your grace that we can continue to serve one another in your name no matter the circumstance. We ask for your peace in place of our anxiety. Thank you, God. Amen.
This month we are exploring a profound statement by Genevieve Behrend in her wonderful book, Your Invisible Power: "As you grow in understanding as to who you are, where you came from, what the purpose of your being is, and how you are to fulfill the purpose for which you are intended, you will become a more and more perfect center through which the Creative Spirit of Life can enjoy Itself."a
And here's how we paraphrased it last week: The more we know who and whose we are and the more we live the life we are meant to live, the more God has fun. That's what she is saying, right!?
Last week I told you a parable about a Nobody named Ordinary who had decided to give God some fun by having a Big Dream and becoming a Somebody as he achieved it. Do you remember that? Part of that parable was that once Ordinary embarked on pursuing the Big Dream and got to the edge of the Comfort Zone of the Land of Familiar, he saw a Wall of Fear and struggled with his deep fear.
Today we are going to dig into how we handle fear when we are pursuing our Big Dream or wherever else fear may come up. It may come up because there is uncertainty, even challenge, in your personal life due to shifting sands underneath your feet. It may come up because you feel challenged by our national or global health as you hear the news each day. Anyone have any of those feelings, right now? All of them?!
I want to make something clear - very, very clear as we head into today's exploration. There is only one reason any of this is occurring -- only one. And what is that? It is occurring because your individual spirit as well as the collective spirits of humanity, are demanding something from us.
They are demanding:
that we fly rather than flutter;
that we soar rather than bore;
that we thrive rather than survive!!
And here's something else. If we didn't have everything in us to fly, to soar and to thrive through the fear, we would not be experiencing it. This is actually our time; it is our time to thrive!
Turn to someone and say, "This is your time to thrive!"
Now look at them and say, "This is my time to soar!"
And finally, "This is our time to fly!"
So, the question of the morning is: When fear hits, Are We Freaking Out or Finding Faith?
At every moment, we have a choice of how to respond to life. But when life shifts and a big fear hits, it often appears that we don't make a choice at all. Rather, the fear grips us, and we automatically freak out!
The truth is that even a seemingly automatic response is a choice. So how do we choose to find faith in the middle of a freak out?
I think it has to do with how we look at fear. I want to spend a couple of minutes looking at three types of fear. Spoiler alert - two of them are actually quite helpful to us; one is not! You'll soon see which is which.
The first kind of fear is innate in us. It's genetic. It's so we stay alert and aware of our environment. It's there to enable us to kick it into gear when WE see a saber-toothed tiger hiding in the bushes. It's called Primal Fear.
Primal fear keeps you alert and ready to spring into action. Do you want this kind of fear? You bet you do when you need it! Right?!
So that's the first kind of fear. The second . . .
FEAR AS PROJECTED THOUGHT
. . . often has the same feeling as Primal Fear (the flutter and sensations in the body), but it's not because of a current threat, rather it's because you have projected into the future. And rather than causing you to be alert and ready, it actually has the opposite effect. It's more like the deer in the headlights syndrome!
This is actually freak out fear! We are going to call it "Fear as a Projected Thought."
Close your eyes and pretend that you are asleep. Bet you never thought you would be encouraged to sleep in church, did you!?
You begin to dream. In the dream you are being chased by a ferocious grizzly bear. Even though you are running at top speed, he is gaining on you quickly. Suddenly, you fall and really hurt your leg. You struggle to get up, but you can't, and the bear is now practically on top of you.
To make matters worse, a den of lions has heard the ruckus and is now coming at you from the other direction, and above you circle a flock of very hungry vultures.
Oh, my gosh, what are you going to do to save yourself? This is a terrifying situation. Your heart is racing, and you can hardly breath. What are you going to do?!
It's really pretty simple, all you need to do to save yourself is to WAKE UP! This fear isn't real.
Neither is fear as projected thought! 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline."b
To get out of it, we need to wake up, which takes us to the third kind of fear . . . The fear that actually wakes us up!
FEAR AS OUR EMOTIONAL GUIDANCE SYSTEM
It's Fear as our Emotional Guidance System.
Fear shows up to give us a very important message. Would you like to hear the message? Are you sure? Some of you may not like it!
The message is this: My thinking is off; I'm not aligned with Spiritual Truth; I'm not aligned with my heart's deepest desires - desires, remember, planted there by the Divine.
This kind of fear is terrific because it's giving us information. It's a signal that we are off, so we can make a choice to adjust!
And here is the part you may not like so much: It is in facing this fear straight on and seeing what it has to offer us that we get the benefit from it!
I want to share with you another bear story. This one true and one that is a powerful metaphor out of this book, Thriving through Uncertainty, Tama Kieves.
(For copyright purposes, I don't want to include it all here in this script. I suggest buying the book so you can use it . . . and it's an amazing book to have as a resource as well!) (You can also just listen to the audio version.) Read from pp. 10.5 - 13.3c
So what is your bear right now? Do you have one? Earlier you said you had some fear in your life. If that's true, then you also have the bear of fear hanging around. And as we face the bear and use it to show us where our thinking is off, we just might find that it has strayed away from the one fundamental premise on which our Spiritual paths are based.
There is One Power, One Presence, One Source of all that is and it is as near as your hands and feet, as close as your breath. It is now, was before and always will be there.
As the Course in Miracles says (paraphrasing a Bible quote): "God has not changed His Mind about you. You are His beloved child in whom He is well-pleased."d
The problem is that we change our minds about God or whatever you call the infinite, kind, spacious undercurrent in your life. We turn away, Source never does. Whatever, whatever, whatever is going in in our lives, we can still decide to turn to this One Source and Presence and Power.
It says in Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."e
Now some of us have believed that if there's a loving Infinite Intelligence, then everything always goes our way. This, my friends, is a rookie mistake! That isn't how it works, and it goes back to what I said at the very beginning of our time together.
Why do challenges occur? So that we can fly rather than flutter; soar rather than bore; and thrive rather than survive!! All of which make us a more Perfect Center through which the Creative Spirit of Life can enjoy Itself!
And this, my friends, is how we turn a freak-out into a faith-fest!
Remember that you may lose something you want, but you can never lose the source of all good. An infinite grace resides within you.
Maybe you lost a job. But you haven't lost the intelligence, persistence, or other abilities that got you the job in the first place.
Or if you've lost a loved one, you can never lose the light you experienced with that person or the qualities in you that helped to create the beauty in that relationship.
When we are in fear, we have the opportunity to discover that we are more than who we think we are.
Question: Where have you allowed a disappointment or crisis to become your identity or block your awareness of other possibilities or resources?
I am not saying this is easy. Yet you know that if you break a lamp in your house, you still have electricity. The light is not in any one job or one person or one situation. It's in you and in your connection to a Greater Intelligent Love.
I love this idea:
In fearful times, we are walking into the grand unknown. It's scary because anything can happen. It's wonderful because finally, anything can happen!
I am ready for anything to happen. How about you?!
Let's pray. Mother, Father, God; Today, I dive into waters, unknown. The sudden embrace of its cold startles me, awakens hidden fear. I need your help, God. To trust more than I doubt. Rest more than wrestle. I am afraid of the future. And yet, You are already there. I live in the unknown. And yet, You live with me. I want to dance where I now sit, scared, in corners. I know you see me, and know who I am, I need strength. I need hope. I need promises. I need safety. More than anything, I need to be able to face what I do not know with courage I do not have. So, help me not be scared. Give me eyes to see beyond the natural. I am ready for anything to happen. Thank you, God. Amen.
aGenevieve Behrend Your Invisible Power p. 31
b2 Timothy 1:7
cTama Kieves Thriving Through Uncertainty pp. 10.5 - 13.3
dCourse in Miracles (paraphrasing a Bible quote)