Conquering Fear…

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela

Meditation: How do we triumph over and conquer our fear? This is easier said than done. One of the first steps is to acknowledge the fear and identify what the fear is about. Then we often feel compelled to “get rid of the fear” by “expelling” it: We either begin denying it, or we start talking about it to everybody who would listen. Both of these coping mechanisms help keep the fear at bay, but they do not help conquer the fear. To overcome fear, we need to “own and befriend” it. We need to admit to ourselves: “This is the fear I have. It is my very personal fear. Nobody can take it away or magically cure it.” As we begin sitting with our fear, it is helpful when someone who is less anxious also sits with us. Listening to our fear we might discover some lies or untruths we have picked up along our life journey that make us feel afraid. We might also discover that we need to go deeper into our fear by asking questions and gathering more information. At other times, we will discover a family story that generates our fear: an ancestor struggled with something, and now we are afraid we will face the same struggle. As either a person sits with us and listens, or God is being present with us in prayer while we are uncovering the swirling thoughts that our fear generates, we grow calmer. Our fear transforms from feeling like a demon “that has us” to feeling like an explored challenge “that we have”. Spiritually we begin living in the interim space of “already –not yet”. We have already conquered our fear, but we are not yet completely free from it. And this is the space called “courage”.

Prayer: God of courage, You want to be with us as we explore our fear. You want to walk with us as we gather more information about that which scares us. You send us persons who can calmly sit with us as we explore the depth of our fear. And You want to help us transform out fear from a demon into a challenging friend. God, we pray for all who need courage to face the next challenge on their journey. Provide for them all that they need to be brave. Amen

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (NIV)