Yesterday I heard a couple of different songs on the radio about fear and it reminded me of one of the exercises we did at The Pen and The Page retreat I attended in October last year.
I have mentioned before that we literally wrote during the various sessions and shared our writings if led. We were not critiqued on our style and composition. It was an opportunity for people who write to have the time and space to do that thing we love so much.
Our leader would give us a topic, set a timer for 10 minutes and play instrumental praise music as we just let our pens do their thing with the thoughts and images that were flowing out of our heads. It was amazingly invigorating
One of the topics one day was on emotions. We named a number of them, which I have listed below. I don’t remember if she assigned us ‘fear’ or if I just selected that. Our writing was to be as if that emotion wrote us a letter.
What would it say to us?
Our opening sentence should be “Dear ________, I am your _______ and this is what I want to tell you.”
This was a Christian conference and so if you are concerned it was some New Age experience, that is not the case. Every session and the whole conference were bathed in prayer with the invitation for the Holy Spirit to guide our writing sessions.
As I said, I don’t recall if we all wrote on the same topic, but mine was on fear. I understand that some of you do not struggle with fear.
Fear is a healthy gift of God to warn us about danger or poor choices or whatever…but for those who do struggle with fear, like me, it can be a crippling sin that keeps us from trusting God.
I entered the exercise that day doubting that I would have a clue what “fear” would tell me, but I just prayed for God to let me hear what this imposing emotion might say to me. I said I was open to hear its voice. I was taken aback by the sinister and manipulative nature of the emotion that poured out onto my paper.
Today I want to share with you my writing that day for two reasons.
If you struggle with fear, perhaps you will become less passive toward its tyranny in your life and if you do not struggle with crippling fear, maybe someone you love does and it might give you a better perspective on why they are often held back from things that you think they should be doing.
So here go:
I am your fear and this is what I want to tell you.
I have been with you since you were so little you don’t even remember a time not knowing me. I grip at your heart and hold you back to protect you.
I keep you from getting too close to the edge because you might fall over. I help you remember all the ways things have gone wrong in the past, and I help you remember other people’s terrible outcomes so that you remain very careful.
I have done a wonderful job, if you think about it. Most everything I have made you afraid of has never happened.
On the rare occasions when you have not heeded me or circumstances were taken out of your control, I have intensified your responses and you have been such a good student. You have learned to repeat, “This was the very thing I was afraid would happen.”
This is good because you are growing to learn how to produce your own “what if’s” to keep the chances of experiencing the thing you fear ever present in your mind.
Yes, it is true. I have robbed you sometimes of joy and of relationship and perhaps your lack of trust not only in God but in other people.
But look what I have saved you from. Look how I have cushioned you securely in what you are comfortable in.
Since we have been together for such a long time, I am your most familiar emotion. You know with me there are no surprises. What I lack in providing rich growth for you, I make up for in security.
As long as you keep me close and allow me to lead you, you are much safer. Security is what you crave and I understand this. I will not let you down. I understand your deepest need.
Well, my friends. The timer was not up when Fear signed off on that letter.
I tell you I sat there and looked at my “fear” in a whole new light and I decided he had overplayed his hand. As I looked at what I had written I realized all my fears are really me trying to control outcomes so that I am safe and secure.
It is sin for sure and revealed a lack in trust in God.
I decided in light of the eye-opening experience and thinking on fears I have experienced over the years to use the time left to respond.
This was the result in the few minutes I had:
You are a liar and a thief.
You have wasted so much of what God wanted to do in me and through me and I have played the fool by believing you.
No snake has ever fallen on my head from the trees over me when I take walks, yet I have lost much joy in walking trails just thinking it was a strong possibility.
The timer went off at this point and I scrawled my final sentence…
There is much more I would like to say to you.
In case you are wondering, I have a death fear of snakes and when I found out they actually are in trees, the thought of one falling on me as I walk or bike under branches is a reality for me. It is in the back of my mind and the possibility has made many a walk/ride a bit of an anxiety producer.
You all…here are some of the emotions/feelings/traits we called out to her at the beginning of the exercise that morning.
Doubt, strife, courage, joy, sadness, exuberance, jealousy, love, wisdom, regret, loss, shame, unforgiveness, rejection, bitter-sweetness, betrayal, peace, fear, pride, envy, anger, anxiety, depression, bitterness, greed.
We all experienced these at different levels and they can be good or bad, but they can all be comfortable places because we just ride along and do what they tell us.
It seems that we are just wired a certain way, but I found that letting fear speak to me (which I confess I was afraid to do…) revealed its slimy back side.
I can’t tell you how to call out the emotions that are overstepping their God-given boundaries in you, but I can pray for God to show them to you and help you see them for what they are and see Him for Who He is.
Maybe you need to hear what Joy would like to say to you, or peace, or rejection…maybe wisdom needs a voice in your day. I don’t know. I just know it was an interesting exercise and I hope if you struggle with fear, you saw a different side of that critter today <3
We are so loved by God that He gave His only Son.
No emotion in us can guide, save and love us like He can.