Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fear's antidote: Hope, yielding courage

My sister Annie recommended a great movie to me when I recently saw her for the first time in years.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty it's called. Ben Stiller is its director and star.

I knew if Annie liked this movie, my chances were really good to love it. She introduced me to Miss Potter, after all. I also knew my chances were even better when I saw that this movie for adults was rated PG.

There's a great scene, my favorite scene, where the woman Walter Mitty admires is singing "Space Oddity" by David Bowie to Mitty - with its line of "and may God's love be with you" - and he abandons reserve and fear and runs to catch a helicopter as it takes off, amazed at himself when he jumps and hangs on as its lifting off into stormy skies.

Really, the movie is about chasing life, taking chances, embracing adventure, trading daydreams for experience and overcoming the fear that challenges our initiative.

Overcoming fear, yes. That's a theme I understand. It's the theme of my life at the moment it seems. I'm afraid I will never learn to do that expertly, but I keep trying, and that, I suppose, takes a kind of bravery in itself. The trying and not giving up part.

Fear would control my life if I gave up. The thoughts about worst possible outcomes would steal my vitality and even my love if I caved to them. I am constantly at war. I am constantly praying for courage. I am constantly beating back the large, dark, negative thoughts, growing weary in the cold waters but still determined.

I fear the known and the unknown. The possible and the impossible. But most of all I fear my fear will keep me from God.

I know it's not His gift. It is another's choice weapon, wielded remorselessly.

A couple days ago my friend Dana told me a parable of sorts as we chatted over coffee, a short story about letting go, about going with the flow and finding peace in it, and I recognized quite clearly that that's what I need to do. Let go, go with the flow. Stop being afraid of the current and its eventual destination. Stop fighting phantoms of the future so dang hard.

Not go with the flow of this convoluted culture, not follow the crowds down the broad, beaten way, but let go in a Godly way, being faithful and hopeful as I face the changes in my family's life together, as I face the changeable world around us. And that's just what an acquaintance spoke about with me today at church, being faithful in the storm, keeping Him and seeing Him, Jesus, in every new situation and new face and new challenge. I needed to hear that, and I thanked her for sharing her wisdom with me. God was reaching out to me in these friends, I believe, touching and instructing me.

I know I need strength to accept the adventure, the uncertainty of this life, to let go, trusting in myself, my family and others.

Courage to live and to live well, that is what we all need. We acquire a little more of it with each fresh step forward, with each faithful leap and spring of hope into uncharted waters.

May God's love
be with us.