I'm struggling with today's post, the last in Fear Week. If you haven't been following along, I encourage you to go back to Monday and read this week's posts. They all have something to do with fear.
I began the week by saying that one of the reasons I wanted to write about fear is because it is so pervasive. That is, underneath every struggle you think you're having - insecurity, grief, doubt, growth, trouble, trial - is some measure of fear that is actually driving that secondary emotion. As I wrap up the week, I'm wondering what it is we're really afraid of.
Rhetorical question, kind of. I know the answer, and the answer is that we're usually afraid of the opposite of what we think we're afraid of. Fear's tricky like that. And the reason I'm struggling with today's post is because I'm trying to dissect this, but I can't get to a point where it's not ridiculous and irrational. So I end up just laughing - at my own fears, at human nature, at the seemingly-too-simple answer to a life afraid.
Here's what I mean.
Our biggest fear, I think, is not that things might not be. Our biggest fear is that things are. We're afraid of being "too competent" at our work, but at the same time, we're really afraid that we're actually really good at it. We're afraid of things being "too hard," but in fact, what we're afraid of is that this doesn't seem hard enough. We're afraid of being abandoned, but what we're really afraid of is that someone won't run away. This was working out so much better in my head.
But the same is true of God. I think we spend our time thinking we're afraid that God won't be what He claims to be, that He won't be constant and He won't be merciful and He won't be true. Yet what we're really afraid of is that God is all of those things. As much as we seem to prepare ourselves, in fear, that He might not be...we're actually kind of really afraid that He is.
As I write that, maybe one of my questions is answered. I've been trying for days (in reflection on this post) to figure out what it is about this fear of things just being the way they are that makes us so afraid. Every answer I've come up with is a dead end because when you think about it, it's ridiculous. As I write, however, I am aware:
Each of these fears, this paralyzing realization that something in life might be true, is a conflict with our paradigm. If God is Who He says He is, if we are who we are created to be, and if all of that is enough, it brings us face-to-face with our brokenness in the presence of unbrokenness, and we don't really have a paradigm for unbroken things.
We are a people who spend our lives as fixers. If not fixers, then at least adapters. We spend our days trying to figure out how to make this broken thing called life "work." We spend our time making concessions and amendments and adaptations to kind of fit things into our box. Yet when we come to the truth that some things simply are as they are, we become painfully aware that some things will never fit into our box. Most of us can't live with that.
We can't live with a Love that isn't merited, so we are afraid of a God who is purely loving. We can't live with a gift that is truly free, so we are afraid of a God who has given Himself. We can't live with the idea that doors might be open, paths might be cleared, that there might actually be a place for us because we're lived our whole lives trying to create our own place, so we're afraid of this thing that feels so right.
You've probably heard it said, and maybe even said it, that something is "too good to be true." But what if the essence of life is that things are simply true...and they are good? It leaves us with a lot of mess on our hands to figure out what to do with.
And a lot of time where it feels like we're doing nothing.
Think about the unbroken things in your life - tangible or intangible. What do you do with them? It feels like nothing, right? The glass candleholder on the coffee table that you only pick up every now and then to dust. (Right, like any of us dust any more.) The car that waits in the driveway for your next outing but is full on fluids, tires full of air, plenty of gas in the tank. When stuff works, when it's not broken, there's not a lot to do with it and we feel like we're spending our time just sitting around, doing nothing, waiting on the next thing.
That's why, I think, we're so afraid that things might be. Because our biggest fear (and I'm not going to qualify this with a why. I'm not sure I know) is that if things simply are and if that's ok, we won't have anything to do!
But I want to offer an invitation, maybe. And I'm making this up as I go along. Think about those unbroken things that you're not thinking about right now. Think about the things that are working, so you don't have to think about them, so you don't have to do anything. Do you realize what you get to do when you don't have to make things work?
You get to use them.
You use that candleholder to create an ambiance, to put light in a dark room, to cover the odor of whatever that thing is that smells so bad and if you could ever find it, you wouldn't need the candle. You get in the car and drive to a place where you have the chance to encounter many other people. It gets you out and about and into the world. When stuff isn't broken and you're not spending your time fixing it, you get to use it.
The same is true of God. If God simply is and is fully what He is and we figure out how to be ok with that, then we get to use God. We get to use love and mercy. We get to use sacrifice and grace. We get to use goodness and holiness and purity. We get to use them without making them and without fixing them because they already are.
I think we were created for this. It feels too simple, too easy. I already want to make it harder. I don't have a paradigm for the unbroken things.
But I think I'd like to have one. Because I'm weary of being afraid that things might simply be. I'm weary of trying to do this life when really, I was created to use this life.
Just my ramblings on Friday of Fear Week. Maybe at least part of it made sense, but I'm not afraid to throw the question out there without an answer. Something for us all to think about. What are your thoughts?