The Middle Ground between Faith and Fear

Things have been pretty crazy for a lot of folks lately, myself included.  The details are  unecessary about my own experience, as it is all pending, and I’m doing the footwork to cover all available options, and I’m not willing to continue the negative spiral that comes from talking about problems more than solutions. What I will share is that I know that what is happening is preparing us for those things that we have been working toward… it is clearing the path of the baggage that is weighing our potential down, and that an abundance of opportunities exist to help us reach our goals.

We may not see all of the answers right away, and the path may be painful at times. But the path is illuminated by the steps we take, and everything we need is provided exactly when we need it. It is a matter of faith which, when based in gratitude and direct action,  yields the fruit of our intentions.  I place my faith on my prior experience that even when I was at my worst, I had what I needed because I did what I needed to do… when I was homeless and pregnant, I had a car and couches to sleep on; When I was broke and my son had a birthday, a bag of groceries with a cake mix and teddy bear anonymously showed up on my doorstep; when my partner died and I was alone in a new town, I had his friends that helped me get through the crucial first year; When I was a wild teenager with a parent who could not be a parent, I was offered a job and a stable home.  I could cite a slew of other experiences, all of which share a common thread of progress and setbacks, followed by more progress. None of it was easy, and it all required a lot of footwork and perseverance.

The hardest part of fear is the unknown.  Sometimes the outcome is elusive or not what we expected, and in some instances, we can work our whole lives and not live to see the change our work helps to produce.  But that doesn’t mean that our efforts are in vain.  Nor does it mean that we need to be miserable during the process.  We must be realistic and allow ourselves to feel and process our disappointment, grief, fear, and despair when they arise.  We can take true comfort and in the empathy of shared experience, and even find humor and joy in the midst of our experience.  It is vital that we celebrate what we can when we can.  

I was taught that fear and faith cannot live in the same house; that if you had fear, you were not acting in faith.  My life experience speaks differently.  Both are projections toward the future grounded in our past experience.  Both are highly emotional experiences.  And both are strengthened and perpetuated by our actions.  I’ve spent my life living in fear and anxiety, but faith has allowed me the courage to step beyond the paralyzation of fear to a different experience, and the results I’ve experienced have been a direct result of my efforts.  My faith isn’t in a power greater than myself or in miracles.  My faith is an act of gratitude for the resources that were available to me when I was in crisis, and for the opportunity to do the work that I had to do to create the change I needed in my life.  It is not a modality with which to stuff or hide my fears or frustrations.  I allow my tears to release the fear that holds me back so I can move forward.  Those tears reveal the messages behind my fear, which I can then use to guide my next steps.  In this, I have found that faith and fear do live in the same house, and are mutually beneficial.

However, I cannot say all of this without recognizing that despite my own experiences and intersectional marginalization, I hold a degree of social privilege that many do not have.  Some of the resources that I’ve had are a result of privilege.  Some of those resources I’ve had to search out and fight to get or create.  As much struggle as I’ve experienced in life, there are millions of people who suffer, and through no fault of their own, do not have the opportunity or resources that I’ve had.  My faith is also based on gratitude for having benefitted from these resources, and the fact that I can use what I have gleaned from these to help others.  I learned how to seek out and create resources from those around me who were struggling.  The bonds we made helped us create the resources that we needed to move forward in life… this is the foundation of community.  And my faith for all of those who are struggling lies in the strength of that foundation.  It is when we are isolated from our community that we lose our strength and support, and it is to those that are isolated and struggle for the opportunities themselves that I reach out, and I believe that it is morally incumbent for those who have privilege to level the playing field and create those opportunities and pathways for those who do not have them.

When things don’t work out as planned, it’s ok. It may not be the right time, or something better is getting ready to sprout. Life constantly responds to our needs and our intentions whether or not we recognize these opportunities. Adversity, tragedy and things that seem senseless give us the opportunity to grow, to recognize what we have, to learn more about love, to regroup, and to take the time we need to come to the wisdom and understanding of how to apply it in our lives so we can move from potential to action.  My experience speaks to this, and I am holding for myself and for each of you who are experiencing the same: that there is a middle ground between the extremes of faith and fear from which we can use both to find our resources and create the change we need in our lives.

Stay blessed.

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