One of the ways my life has been blessed is that I don’t have many fears. Oh, I’m not crazy about dark places where spiders can hide and having fallen once from a ladder, I don’t get too excited about taking down boxes from the upper shelves in our garage.
But, long ago I was taught a valuable lesson by my Dad. You see, when I was in school, I was very nervous about asking a particular girl to a Friday dance. She was the cutest girl I knew, but we weren’t already friends and we traveled in different social circles at school. I mentioned my intention to my Dad as we were re-building the roof on our home (we remodeled every house we ever lived in). When I told him I was afraid to ask her out, he said, “what’s the worst that can happen?” I thought you mean beyond humiliation and rejection? But, I answered, “what?” He stopped hammering and said, “the worse that can happen is that she would say ‘no,’ right?”
And as this sank in I realized he was correct. If she did say “no,” I was not going to suffer any physical damage. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that there was no downside. At least she’d know that I thought enough of her to muster up the courage to ask her out. And, if she did say “no,” well, I could cross her name off my list.
That realization, as simple and adolescent as it may sound, was a revelatory moment in my life. I suddenly saw that whatever faced me, all I had to do was to boil any challenge down to what was the, quote, worse that could happen, unquote.
My life has been a life of taking chances — not the Evil Knievel kind of chances — but the kind that might cause others to pause and talk themselves into a safer perceived path. In fact, the only regrets I may still have from time-to-time are the same regrets I suspect you have as well: the “what-if” regrets. What if I had taken that other job? What if I had studied something else in college? What if I had never started smoking? What if I had invested in Apple way back when?
The “what-ifs” can drive you crazy. I know. And it wasn’t until I returned to Unity a few years ago that I remembered why I adored Unity teachings in the beginning. It was the idea of living the Present. In this moment. The “Now” as Tolle calls it.
When I do review my life — and it’s far less often than it used to be — I can spot the time when I did allow fear to exist, when I made a decision based on whether or not I would be hurt. And it’s always those times when the choice I ended up making resulted in a much less than stellar outcome.
Now, here’s the real secret of fear. And it may take a bit for us to both fully realize this, but fear of anything is really a fear of death. If you fear going to the dentist, it’s a fear of death. If you fear not having enough food for next week, it’s actually a fear of death. If you fear being embarrassed by speaking up at work, it’s also a fear of death.
The fear you have as an emotion is your Ego self warning you that the action you’re contemplating might kill your Ego self. That by going through life without fear is going through life without your Ego.
You see, when you realize that the worse that can happen is truly nothing, then the Ego is dead. And the Ego hates dying. It’s a real bitch about that, for some reason.
Let’s look at the Spiritual Algebra on this: you, as the Child of God, have eternal life. Period. You know that. I know that. And, the Ego knows it, as well. But, the Ego doesn’t live eternally. In fact, your Ego self, with a small “s,” is only in this consciousness. The capital “S” Self is your Spiritual Self and it has eternal life, right?
So anytime you rely on the capital “S” Self, you’re not relying on your Ego. If you move without fear through life, then the Ego has no real purpose, and that is what the Ego resists. It fights you every turn. It makes you petty. The Ego makes you argue and fight and cower. The Ego dredges up the past to remind you how bad it can get if you don’t listen to Ego. It fills you with “I told you so’s” and “others won’t like you if you do whatever you contemplating.”
We’re reminded that going to the dentist is painful by playing all the stupid sitcom-like scenes in our heads of big needles and painful drills. And, yes, the dentist can cause some pain, but if you relax into it, you’ll find that the pain is not nearly as bad as how you anticipated it.
I’ve spent so much money with dentists, I joke that I’ve put many of their kids through college. And, yet, I have slept through root canals. I’ve actually had dentists wake me up to open my mouth wider. I have not been a good caretaker of my teeth, but I have never felt guilty and when I sit in a dentist’s chair or a doctor’s office or talk to a police officer pulling me over for speeding, I’m just not afraid. My blood pressure doesn’t race, my heart doesn’t palpitate, and my knuckles don’t turn white from making fists.
Because in each of these situations, what is the very worse that can happen to me? Nothing much. Certainly nothing worth compromising my own peace and serenity.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.Philippians 4:6
Last year, my teeth got so bad that the best choice of action was to go to Clear Choice and get the full implants. Although I knew I would leave that day with my first set of implants and a complete smile, I also knew that it would involve my having every tooth I had left being extracted and days and days of aches and recovery.
But I have to tell you, I was excited! I was so grateful that I was going to get a full, pearly white set of teeth that I had always wanted. The pain was just the cost. There was nothing to fear. As I sat in the chair that morning about to be put under, I had a twinge of regret that I had let my lack of oral hygiene put me in that situation, but I quickly flicked that away like a bothersome gnat and said, “God thank you for this gift. Thank you for providing these doctors and this technology that will alleviate my pain from cavities and root canals. Thank you for the medications that will give me some comfort during my recovery.” And then I recited Psalms 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.Psalms 23:1-4 NRSV
And I went to sleep, woke up a few hours later, and by 5 o’clock was driving home with a full set of glistening white teeth.
Fear is a furnace that needs feeding. The Ego stokes it, but you are the one that puts in the fuel.
We don’t realize we do that, though, do we? You see, anytime we cease loving something, we are fueling fear. Fear is the opposite of love. It’s impossible to truly love something at a higher consciousness level and be afraid of it. Absolutely impossible.
Divine Law doesn’t work that way. If you really love something in a Spiritual sense, you cannot fear it. I loved those folks at ClearChoice. I went into the preliminary exam and the actual surgery day with nothing but love for everyone I met because I was selfish!
Yes, selfish. I wanted them to love me so much that everything would work out great. But I knew the only way to receive love is to give love. And I gave them bunches of it. I looked at each person in the eye, I smiled, I hugged, and I laughed. And that’s exactly what I got back, too.
There are lots and lots of books about overcoming fears. Psychologists spend hours helping people deal with various fears and traumas. And their work is extremely valuable.
But, I’ll share with you my two secrets to erasing fear from my life and your life: the first is love. And what do you love?
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’Matthew 22:37-39 NRSV
I particularly want to draw your attention to the phrase “as yourself.” If you love yourself, then you know you’re the Child of God. You have to. And as the Child of God, there is nothing that can kill you. Your Holy Life is eternal. That means now and evermore. Beyond whatever happens in this life.
As long as you can live forever, then, truly, of what are you afraid?
The second little secret is the one jewel that allows me to face anything at any time: be in the Present. Right now, at this very moment, take stock of yourself. Are you breathing? At this very second, are you in pain? At this very second, if your mortal well-being in imminent jeopardy?
By the present, I mean at this millisecond. Don’t think about before this moment: that’s over with. Don’t think about later today or tomorrow or next year: the future is not here and, as far as I know, neither of us has any ability to guarantee what is going to happen beyond this very second.
I had no idea 6 months ago, I’d be the pastor of a church. That had never seriously crossed my mind. But here I am. When I married Cyndi 40 years ago, we didn’t know we’d have 3 boys and granddaughter. The future is not ours to predict.
So I stopped doing that a long time ago. I’m not dreaming about retirement or buying a big RV. I think about the things that I would love to do right now. The Present is all I know: it’s here, it’s now, and right at this moment, regardless of how much food we have in the pantry, or how much money we have in the bank; no matter how healthy I might be, or how achy I’ll feel when I wake in the morning; at this very exact moment, my life is perfect.
If you answer no to that, and I suspect some might, then it’s time to work on allowing yourself to be loved. Loved by God, loved by others, but, most importantly, loved by you.
I love Cyndi. I would never do anything to harm her. And she knows that, and for that reason, she can go to sleep at night feeling safe and warm. She doesn’t fear me and she thrives because she is over-loved (if that’s even possible) by her sons, and daughters-in-law, and me. And her grandbaby.
But the real reason she doesn’t have fear is that she loves herself as God’s Child. The begotten son of God.
When you can truly, absolutely, and without reservation know that God loves you, then you will love yourself. That I can guarantee.
And if God loves you — and you love yourself — then you really, truly have nothing to fear. Ever.