Fear of Becoming Like Them
My greatest barrier to moving from the 'safety net' belief in God to a true relationship with Him has always been fear. A mix of fears too not a one size fits all fear. My journey to embracing a more loving and trustworthy God - began in 2007, when I began to search my heart for what was missing in my life and realized my fears were ruling every aspect of my life.
The first fear had to do with apprehension of my future as a follower of Christ and any malice it may hold. I'd read enough bio-ops on the Saints to echo St. Teresa of Avila's admonishment to Christ when she allegedly landed in the mud after her donkey bucked her. "IF this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them." Exactly Teresa - fear that if I made this commitment to believe in God especially beyond the Sunday obligation (aka keeping perfect attendance just in case this is all real) - bad stuff would befall me. I gave this some real thought too - even banishing some Saints from my thoughts and prayers because in some twisted way felt if I acknowledged them the same fate my beset me.
On the 'do not call' list:
My prayer life has always been so egocentric, and in 2006-2008 as a 'baby renewed Christian' it was even more so. It never crossed my mind back then to call upon these Saints, who were forever looking upon the face of God, for intercession for those who actually were or in the danger of being raped, dying after birth of a child, battling breast cancer or any cancer, or those brave missionaries and faithful around the world standing up for their belief in God.
I lived in a small town, with very small problems, and yet spent most of my time worrying about what MIGHT come. I feared that surrendering myself to God might open the flood gates of tragedy and trial - is that really how I saw a faith in God? Sadly, it was.
Fear of Rejection
The second fear that overcame me, was rejection from the Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit, though honestly during this early resurgence of faith, I didn't quite understand the Holy Spirit but focused primarily on God as Father. I was sure that my horrendous past and current sinful behavior was an insurmountable obstacle and He was merely waiting for one more MAJOR flub to smote me. KABOOM! Lightening bolt to the earth, where I'd be reduced to a pile of ash and smoke - though in my heard, I just imaged being afflicted with one of the aforementioned illnesses or a horrible accident that would take me out of the game permanently.
In case, it is not clear yet, anxiety is my go-to sport of choice. IF you could medal in anxiety, worry or fear, I'd be a gold MEDAL Olympian! My unstable childhood and worry-wart nature just lent itself nicely to this mindset. It was also my childhood that played a significant role in my fear of rejection or punishment from God, as Father.
Before I share the past, I need to clarify the present. My perception of my dad was definitely colored by the stories I was fed, the pain of his own life masked with alcohol, and a horrible 3rd shift that left most of our interactions to times he was much too tired to deal with my melodrama or anxieties. In 2000, after several heart attacks and years of declining health, he received a heart transplant. I believe it transformed not only his physical body but his emotional as well; it also helped that he remarried, finally found happiness and much of the truth once hidden from me was revealed. Now my father is loving, attentive and definitely more clearly mirrors the image of my Father in Heaven.
If There Was a God - I was clearly NOT a Favorite
However... until that point, I was incredibly fearful of him, felt unloved and emotionally disconnected (and not just to him - my entire family was not much of a connected loving unit - we had moments but they are scarce enough that I am pretty sure I can recount each one). If there was a God, he obviously didn't think very highly of me because up until this point these parents He choose didn't seem too proud of their child nor very interested in sharing my life. I remember often thinking growing up - I didn't ask to be born nor did I ask for these circumstances - whatever I did it seemed to really either aggravate God or worse yet He didn't really care what happened to me. There was much doubt in my mind that whatever my fault, I could not UNDO it so why bother trying. I also thought if I kept a low profile, maybe He'd forget about me and if I was lucky enough I'd live to be a ripe old age; and by then my sin ratio would be low enough to squeak me into Purgatory!
Then I was introduced to Scripture ... and I learned things such as:
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father,
And even when I was culpable St. Paul had that covered as well, with:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
God's word was speaking truth into my fears. These verses along with my budding friendship with the Saints, were prying open the fear shuddered door to my heart. My anxiety attacks still rear their ugly head but instead of closing that door and assuming I'm doomed - a peace and hope are emerging. Perfect love casts out fear, St. John tells us ... although it is a great work in progress for me, at least the work is underway and not still locked behind a wall.
All rights reserved, Allison Gingras 2016
Images - Pixabay, PD