Somewhere along the way, fear crept into me. Into my life, and my thoughts, and my emotions, and my decision making. Not in an overpowering and paralyzing way. It's not all consuming, and it's not even noticeable most of the time. But when I take a closer look, I'm seeing traces of fear all over. It's there in my hesitant decision making. It's there in the way I've kept people at arm's distance. It's there in my decidedly defensive reactions. It has taken hold in subtle, sneaky ways. I'm starting to unwrap its tendrils from my innermost parts, but it's hard work.
Fear flourishes in my unknown. It sees dark places, shadows of the not-yet-happeneds and holes still to be filled. And then, fear speaks into them. It creates things in those unknown spaces. It uses my insecurities and brokenness and hurt from years past as building blocks, and it creates in those shadows.
Remember when you were a child, tucked under your blankets, and you looked around your dark bedroom? The shadows from your dresser, the creaking noise in the unseen hallway, the chasm of blackness under your bed. Your mind created the worst possible scenarios- and suddenly there was a monster plotting your murder residing right beneath where you sleep.
See? This, this is the nature of fear. It lies. It creates terrifying and unsettling scenarios in the unknown places. Fear is a liar, and a manipulator, and a no-good punk.
As I get older, and I have looked fear in the eyes more often, I see that the unknown holds more than just scary stuff. It also holds our wildest dreams and possibilities. Fear want to control the unknown, but beauty and hope want to exist there too.
The unknown is the space where dreams are free to run wild. In the wonderings and the curiosities, the most beautiful things can blossom because they are not hindered by our own expectations or our rigid boundaries of what we deem to be "possible". The not-yet-happeneds are where God can breathe his perfect plans for our lives.
I think that there's a reason why one of the most consistent themes of God's voice in the biblical narrative is the commandment to not be afraid. Over and over again, humans need to be told to fight the fear that attempts to commandeer the unknown. God knows that fear is not something to take lightly. He meets us there and over and over again whispers- Do not fear. Do not be afraid. I am with you- always. This is so important because if we let fear be the loudest voice, the hope and the beauty don't have room to grow.
I think that fear is loud and fear is a bully. It shouts over hopefulness and shoves beauty to the ground. It knows that once the good things begin to grow it won't stand a chance. Fear knows that it doesn't have the solid truthful foundation that hope and beauty do, so it's panicky and it's grasping and fighting to hold on. I don't want to let it.
Ahead of me are a lot of unknowns. A lot of territory that is uncharted. In the throes of life's transitions, the unknown is easy to spot, it's everywhere I look, it's almost visceral. But the truth of the matter is, we are all staring straight forward into a sea of uncertainty. Nothing here is promised or guaranteed, despite our most valiant attempts to make plans and strive for goals and hold on to things with fists clenched and heels dug in.
So we must decide. Do we look at the unknown and allow fear to control us? Do we allow the lies to dictate our decisions and actions and steps? No, we mustn't. For fear, as we've already established, is a liar and a manipulator and a no-good punk. Rather, we must look at the not yet realized parts of our life and allow them to be filled with the goodness and beauty of hopeful potential. We must actively push against the lies of fear, and to find the hope and beauty that fear trampled over, pick them up & brush them off. Then, we can let them run wild.