Last weekend I drove to Payson in order to facilitate sessions with women vets at The Merritt Center. The center hosts monthly weekend programs to support returning veterans for eight months every year. I am among a small group of people who facilitate healing sessions those Saturday afternoons in this no-cost to veterans program. (http://www.merrittcenter.org/ ) While driving up the mountain between Mesa and Payson, I had a powerful awareness about fear that is really quite freeing.
I became aware I was not experiencing fear as I approached one of two areas that had really brought up fear on those first several trips years ago. The appearance is that I’m heading straight off the road and down the side of the mountain because the next section of the road is not visible as you approach it from a distance. If you’ve driven in the mountains you’ve likely experienced this error in perception as well. So, I’d hold tightly to the wheel and focus with all my attention on the road ahead and proceed in fear, until I made it safely through that section of the highway.
As one drives nearer it is apparent the road indeed curves and is readily navigable at even 60 mph or more. This I knew on Saturday because I’d previously been there many times. The insight that I gained that can assist me in daily living, is that although appearances are often fearful, I need not stay in fear with all the ensuing thoughts that intensify or make the fear seem more real.
Given my ability to recognize, based on past learning, there was nothing to fear, I proceeded carefully that day with both hands on the wheel. I kept my attention fully on the road and enjoyed the feeling of peace within me.
The exciting thing is that we can generalize this insight to situations that bring up fear for us. In faith, and sometimes with daring, we truly are able to move forward knowing as we do, we will see the situation differently. As with the road, we will see a way through, and will likely recognize it wasn’t what we made it out to be. From a distance, it looked as if one would drive straight over the edge. With a closer look, it became clear that the road safely curved and was passable even at high speeds.
So, it is with our life situations as appearances change. A way to proceed is made clear, help may show up, or we find inner resources that were before, unknown to us. In that moment of need, those newfound resources are of help and become a known part of us on which we can rely in the next appearance of fear. And above all, the situation may have brought up fear because of the mistaken meaning we gave it.
To recognize there is nothing to fear is the key. Of course, recognizing that if fear comes up as a warning to what could well cause harm, we will intuitively know what to do, be guided “down another road”, or in some way be made safe. If we’ve had this experience of finding safety when fear comes up even once, we know it’s available in all situations. We must trust that. We put our faith in ourselves as we live in God and we put our faith in our brothers to support our safety and our good. We see this on the evening news again and again. A passerby puts herself in danger to assist and even save the life of a “stranger”. We allow God and goodness to lift us out of the fearful situation.
This experience is a healing. To move beyond fear, based on a change in thinking and a change in our consciousness about who we are is the miracle. It may involve a change of thought of who our brothers are, and it strengthens our faith in who we are in God. When we receive help from others, we are more able to see our brothers as a part of us rather than as someone to not fully trust, keep at arms distance or meet in war. It’s all very lovely. We become free of fear and more able to love.
However, when a situation triggers fear that impedes our ability to function, immobilizes us or produces terror, healing work--some form of intervention, is called for in order to resolve those triggers we still carry. This is another category in any discussion of fear. Whatever is required, it’s worth the effort. We each are worthy of such effort, the care we receive and the ultimate healing.
We can consider all the things the experience of fear keeps us from. More loving relationships, accomplishments, things and experiences we really do want. The list is vast. The point is, fear need not be. We have strength that is God given and we can use it to live in freedom and joy. Besides, WE ALL KNOW, “FEAR IS False Evidence Appearing Real”. It’s actually a pretty good acronym for the illusory nature of fear in ordinary circumstances.