She walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear. At nineteen, Anna’s story is less a story and more a most wrenching tale penned of blistering heartache, seemingly unscalable disadvantages, improbable misfortune handily spun on the loom of all things unjust, and hope ground to powder only to be blown away on the ever-restless winds of adversity. She has known nothing other and she lives presuming that the tale of her life will continue to be penned in similar lines such as these. And while she wishes that her faith were sufficiently stalwart to thwart all fear, she is honest enough to admit that such a faith is a work in progress. And so, she walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear.
Her health is delicately precarious, leaving each moment she lives as a hope but not a promise. Her life is an existence of individual moments lived out with the hope that if enough of them are accumulated and stitched together they might possibly stretch out into a future. The physical challenges of each day render every tomorrow as something so far away that it may never arrive. And while she wishes that her faith were sufficiently stalwart to thwart all fear of a tomorrow never coming, she is honest enough to admit that such a faith is a work in progress. And so, she walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear.
The Hidden Opportunity in Fear
In sitting with this delicate but powerful young woman, I have found that Anna has learned that the best way that she could walk ‘with’ fear but not live in ‘it’ was to turn her attention to seeking out and seizing the immense opportunities that lie within it, rather than allowing it to seek out and seize the confidence within her. She discovered that fear animates itself and enlarges its aura sufficiently to keep our focus on fear. That fear stealthily hides its hidden treasures by keeping us fearful and therefore allowing us to see nothing else but fear. And she has discovered that fear is deliberate enough in executing this terribly refined strategy that we become convinced that fear is made up of nothing but fear. Anna admits that she walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear.
And she is able to walk ‘with’ it but not ‘in’ it because she decided to look beyond the fear to what great good fear can do. Behind the ‘fear of fear’ she has discovered a rich cache of opportunity for improbable growth. That fear is the catalyst for growth, not the opponent of growth. That fear is not the monster that destroys, for that is the distortion that fear lures us into and the tale that frightened people tell of it. That the implicit nature of fear is such that it surgically seeks out the nature of our existence that is contrary to our existence. That behind the façade of fear there is great good.
The Nature of Our Existence That is Contrary to Our Existence
Fear is the thing that deftly exposes the shallowness of our petty attitudes. It renders the constructs that we have built our lives upon as the epitome of selfishness and the bedfellow of ignorance, thereby granting us sufficient understanding to effectively change them. Fear strips us of the preconceived notions of ‘who we are’ that we have tediously constructed based on the fear of ‘who we actually are.’ Fear brings unprecedented collapse to the permissive morality that we have created in order to grant us permission to do all things immoral. Fear exposes the things that we have ‘lived for’ so that we can flee the things that we were ‘born for.’ Fear takes our lives out of our hands and shows us that they were never in our hands to begin with. And most profoundly, fear shows us that our fear persists because we have sought out refuge in some person or institution that is at the very same time attempting to find refuge for themselves. For the only Person Who is His own refuge in order to be ours is God.
Yes. Anna walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear. She has not fallen for the façade of fear and therefore she has not fallen to fear. And in embracing these precious lessons, a tomorrow is on the way where she will not walk ‘with’ fear any longer.
I wish I could tell you that I don’t fear, because at times I do. But because I do, I will seize it and force the riches out of it. I will take what I want from it, rather than letting it take what it wants from me. And this is a time to let the lessons of our fears change the trajectory of our lives. This is the time to work through our fear by letting its lessons work through our lives until we have vanquished it from our lives. And like Amy, I wish that my faith were sufficiently stalwart to thwart all fear, but I am honest enough to admit that such a faith is a work in progress. And so, I walk ‘with’ fear, but I do not live ‘in’ fear. And someday soon, I will do neither.