The inability to move or act is one of the most frustrating experiences in life. Inaction is usually a side effect of fear. Here’s an example of what I mean:
A Story about Fear
Imagine you are going for a walk through the forest at dusk. You’re halfway done and about to loop around to head back to your car in the gravel parking lot. You hear a sudden sound of twigs snapping. You begin to pick up pace. Walking. A brisker pace. Jogging next.
The sun seems to set almost immediately (those large oak branches block out most of the sunlight anyways). Darker and darker the woods become. And as the darkness rises so does the sound of the snapping branches.
Your legs move from jogging to running to what feels like an Olympic-level sprint. You catch your foot on a raised root and careen towards the ground. You taste bitterness. Dirt or bugs? Both? You’re too afraid to really care.
You’re already at the edge of the forest.
The good news? You see a glimmer of light from the setting sun. Purple and orange in hue.
The bad news? This is just enough light for you to notice the shadowy outline of a ten-foot-tall creature. “Get up you fool!” your brain exclaims but your body is too tired to move.
And fear sets in… the monstrous silhouette gets closer until you feel the warmth of dripping saliva and see the shadow of 5-inch-long claws. The claw-shadow swipes downward at your face. You want to move but fear disrupts your ability to act to save yourself.
Thankfully, this story isn’t real. It’s something I imagined and is inspired by a book I’m currently reading. But the theme of fear and inaction is a real thing in my current journey.
Some of the most popularized fears are phobias of spiders, enclosed spaces, or unknown creatures from alternate realities. The fear that has plagued me over the past several years is more ordinary but still leads to the feelings of doubt and despair. It’s the fear of failure and tied closely is another fear: the unknown and what the future holds for me.
The Struggle with Anxiety and Depression
I trust God in the large things but worry constantly about the small things. I have endured indescribable suffering of losing several unborn babies to miscarriage (every other pregnancy my wife and I have had has led to loss). Past suffering taught me God will never abandon me. Such suffering and how God has used it to stabilize my faith is something I have frequently wrote about. Check out my article Containing Joy—Rainbow Baby After Miscarriage Maelstroms.
Despite the fact I am aware of God’s abiding presence and have numerous instances and memories to remind me of God’s love, I still struggle with worry, angst, and depression. The recipe for this is not merely to pray it away, because mental health issues involve a multi-faceted solution. Don’t get me wrong, prayer is a necessary component to fend off anxiety and depression. But it’s not the sole solution. Documenting my struggles in blog articles helps me to gain perspective and lets others into my struggles. If you are currently in a low point in your spiritual life or simply life in general, please feel free to reach out to me. I may not have the answers, but I can share in your pain and at least point you in the direction of some resources that have helped me in the past.
I started this post in reply to my fear of failure and the unknown. Since my children have gone back to school, I have more time to write. But fear has kept me in a state of inaction. I wasted yesterday and the day before with the fear of the unknown. It was like I was stuck in that dark forest, and I allowed the fear to shroud me. Cover my ability to see how it is possible to move. To act. To write.
The journey thus far one out of darkness (and inaction) and towards action. I don’t have a detailed plan with this “Fear Series” except to document my journey out of the present darkness (you could call it a sort of “Dark Night of the Soul”).
How Exactly Do You Face Your Worst Fears?
It’s simple, but not easy. You move. It doesn’t always matter which direction you move. Sometimes you move towards the fear. In this case, I moved away from the fear.
To conclude this post (and thank you for bearing with me so far) here’s a reliable prayer from Saint Teresa of Avila which helps get me to act:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.