Several years ago, shortly after finding the 12 steps, I took my first tiny faltering steps towards wondering about Love and Fear. I really tried to grab onto this idea that Fear is a tool of the adversary and that we do not need to fear.
For some reason I was sharing these thoughts with my dad. Looking back, I'm not sure why??? Discussions with my dad never go well. He always disagrees with EVERYTHING, and I don't know if it's because he truly disagrees with what I'm saying, or if he just likes the thrill of playing devil's advocate and debating and proving that he is right and everyone else is wrong.
But, anyway, that's exactly what he did this time - pointing out that fear is good and important because it keeps you safe. If you weren't afraid to go jump off a cliff, what would stop you from doing it?
And I didn't have an answer for him. I've thought about that conversation a lot over the years, and never felt like I had a good answer. I was stumped. I didn't like to think about it. I hate it when I learn something that feels hopeful but I am unable to get it to make sense in the core of me. I am afraid to hope it could be true.
I hadn't thought of this conversation in quite some time, but this morning I woke up and the first thought that popped into my head was, "I know the answer."
And the answer is simple, of course. The answer is, as always, Love. I don't jump over the cliff because I love myself and I know that jumping off the cliff would not be a loving act at this time. I don't need to be afraid of it.
It seems so simple that I wonder why I didn't get it before - but I can see now that it's okay. It doesn't mean that I'm stupid or slow. The words that DESCRIBE the answer are simple - but the BELIEF of the answer is not simple. If someone had said those exact same words to me yesterday - that Love was the answer - I would not have recognized it as true. It would have sounded very nice and like something I would LIKE to believe, but it wouldn't have "clicked." But today, I was ready, and it "clicked." (I wonder if this is what Mary S was describing when she used the word "understand" in her post?)
The thought also occurred to me that the Fear wasn't a BAD thing - that it had served its purpose. Fear served to keep me safe until I was ready to accept Love and allow it to come in and take over. The Fear doesn't mean I'm weak or evil or broken or wrong. It's almost like, Fear is the lesser law and Love is the greater law.
So it's okay if I'm following the commandments out of fear of what will happen if I sin - as long as I don't get hung up on it and think that it is the BEST answer. I just have to be patient with the fact that this is where I am now and in time the Lord will change my heart so that I am motivated more and more by Love and less and less by Fear.
It's like, I always thought the Children of Israel were really awful, stupid, wicked people if they had to have the gospel "dumbed down" for them and needed the Law of Moses instead of the higher law. I mean, seriously, people. A golden calf? Really??? What were you thinking? How stupid do you have to be?
But I think now I need to look at them with a lot more Charity. Because I AM them! (I mean, seriously, Wendy. Chocolate? Really?)
And the Law of Moses was good and served its purpose. But it was only good as long as they remembered that it was LEADING to the greater truth - that it was not the greater truth in and of itself. When the adversary was able to convince them that the law was the most important thing, to the point that they were not able to acknowledge the Savior as the Son of God when He did come, that is how he used it to his advantage.
I guess Fear is the same - it is not a bad thing in and of itself, but when the adversary can use it to his advantage and convince us that Fear is more powerful than Love, then it is truly a tool in his hands. Or even worse, when he is able to make us fear Love itself.
I think this helps me to understand the Bible better - and the seeming disconnect between the "vengeful" God of the Old Testament and the "loving" God of the New Testament. The thought occurs to me that the Bible is not really a true account of the nature of God, but rather an account of how we perceive God. And for most people - this is the normal progression of our understanding of God. First we see Him as this far-away being who is powerful and scary and vengeful. But then as He comes into our life in a more real and concrete way and we see Him up close, we see that yes, He is powerful, but it is a power that comes from Love and Gentleness and Humility and not from a show of brute strength that we need to be afraid of.
Anyway, I just wanted to write that all down and get it out there. Thanks for listening.
Overeating, dependence on food, obsession with eating, etc.
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