According to an article in "Parade" magazine, what scares people the most is walking alone in the dark. However this fear is also linked to another strong fear - fear of the unknown. When we don't know what we're facing, we can't mentally prepare either mental or physical defenses, we can't control the situation. Fear of the unknown has helped the human species to survive. It has also given us fear of anything or anyone different, which has caused breakdowns in communication and unity among human beings.
Do you fear anything on this additional list?
Fear of flying
Fear of public speaking
Fear of heights
Fear of the dark
Fear of intimacy (which includes fear of rejection, fear of commitment, and fear of failure)
Fear of death
Fear of spiders
I can honestly say that in addition to fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, and fear of not being in control, I fear a number of things on that list. We're all probably bundles of an assortment of fears, which we have to battle on a daily basis.
Yet we can ask our selves - are we born fearful? Marianne Williamson says that we are not.
"Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. Children are happy because they do not have a file in their minds called 'All the Things That Could Go Wrong.' The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back into our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth."
Unlearning fear and re-accepting love is the most difficult part of our spiritual journey. Unfortunately, the older we grow and the more experiences that we have, the easier it is to believe that things will go wrong, because they have so often already. Our dreams desert us. People get sick. We get sick. People abandon us. People die. People go into the dark and never return. And some of it is our fault. And so we can even fear ourselves, fear our own inadequacy. How easy, then, for our fears to become chronic, and control us! How can we return to love and trust?
Elizabeth Scalia leads us unerringly back to God, because, in the end, our lives are in God's hands. And we have to ask ourselves, do we fear God, or trust God? Do we fear the unfathomable things that God allows to happen in our lives, or trust God to uphold us and bring all to the good?
"God's complex ideas, when they are introduced to our personal lives, often seem like actions 'working against all sense' because that's what they are: they are meant to move us out of the idolatry of our own ideas, our own reasonings, our own minds, and enter us into his ideas, his reasoning, his mind. If we consent to it, then we are admitted into the staggering sweetness of his enraptured love for us, where the only real price is trust. The world will never understand it or appreciate it because it has not consented to that same all-loving capture; it is too afraid of the ransom."
Fear controls us when we fear God because we can't control God. The only answer is Love, Intimacy with God. When I am overcome by fear, I fight this intimacy. I'd rather be angry with God, wander around lost for awhile, rather than give up control of my ideas, my mind, and enter into his ideas, his mind. Yet, when we pray, we enter into God's ideas and God's mind, and we can let go of our fears, prejudices, and inadequacies because God is perfect Love and Perfect Love casts out all fear.
We are, after all, children of God. When we pray intimately, God wraps us in Love, penetrates us to our deepest, darkest depths, illuminates all our fears so we can start to let go of them, one by one. Wrapped in God' love, purified by God's love, we are made new and courageous, powerful in faith and assurance.
Marianne Williamson has a vision of who we can be when we live in intimate loving union with God: we can finally become our true selves.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our darkness, that most frightens us....You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.....As we let our Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence actually liberates others."
We - you and I - can pray every day to trust God more deeply, be wrapped in His liberating Love. We can pray that we won't let fear push us to play small!