Fear

Posted: September 20, 2013 in World On The Edge

DangerLast Saturday, I held a Stories of Faith workshop in my parish. The purpose was to consider a particular time that God had been present in the participant’s life, and for him or her to write about it.

At the beginning of the workshop, each person was to write down a single word that might express his or her own faith experience. There were 18 participants, and there were 17 different words expressed. Only two people picked the same word!

I was amazed at how varied the responses were. But aren’t we all so different? God touches us very uniquely in our particular situations. How vast, how great, how infinite He must be!

Some of the words were: relief, patience, love, thankful, surrender, acceptance, frustration, tears, lost, joy, and many others that escape me at the moment. But there was one word expressed that touched me personally. That word was Fear.

For most of my life, I’ve had to work to get away from of this emotion–in small things, as well as in larger ones. I happen to know that the lady at workshop who chose the word, Fear, had transported herself and her family to Dothan after surviving the terror of Hurricane Katrina that practically wiped out her small town. I cannot imagine what she lost. I can, however, imagine her fear.

At the workshop, this lady didn’t read aloud what she’d written as some others did. So I can’t speak for her, only myself.

As I’ve said before on this blog: God loves us madly, even though we are sinners. If we don’t accept that God loves us, we will be fearful. If we don’t accept that His mercy has redeemed us, we will be fearful. If we don’t trust Him to always be with us, we will be fearful.

But when we accept that God loves us, that love of His often calls us to do what is uncomfortable. It calls us to actions that may well strike fear in us. It may be something as seemingly simple as reaching out to a person we don’t like very much. Or it may be as complicated as giving up something, or someone, we’ve become excessively attached to.

So is this the cat biting its tail? We look to God to keep us from fear and what does He do? He gives us a task, a calling, that frightens us to death.

The difference is that He is beside us in this task, whatever it might be.

This week Pope Francis gave an interview to one my favorite Catholic magazines’, America. In it, he said:

“I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

Amen! This is exactly why we don’t have to fear. God is present and with us in everything.

This is, of course, key in Catholic fiction—it’s what we authors strive to infuse into our novels and short stories– God’s divine flashlight within us, showing us the way out of darkness.

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