Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No longer ego’s hostage

Listen to post:
Sunday in worship an interesting thought occurred to me: How can I retract my defenses? The tightness and rigidity, let my guard down?

It’s something I have questioned, though in different forms, for a very long time. It may also have been stimulated by my daily Henri Nouwen devotion that said the world pushes us to prove ourselves and that God’s love is opposite and accepting. Do I let the world push me? Why do I feel as if I’m in a continual fighting stance? My body is tried of always standing guard.

I believe God had already begun to give me an answer when, the day before, as the girls and I were Father’s Day shopping, I came across an interesting book, entitled “Feel the Fear … and Do It Anyway,” on the clearance rack. Something made me pick it up and start reading. I flipped a few pages in to a section on the levels of fear and that the root of all fears, no matter the specificity, is the fear of not being able to handle what life brings.

For me, it was an OMG moment and I mean that in the holiest and truest sense. I bought the copy and didn’t give it another thought until Sunday afternoon and again, Monday as I continued to read.

I really have grown afraid, throwing myself into victim mode and always being on the defensive. Hense, the tightness. Hard as it is to articulate and admit, I have given my responsibility and power away, blaming circumstances, things and people for my struggle. Mostly, though, I have blamed myself.

Blamed myself almost to oblivion. I am beginning to see the circumstances of my life have, rather, molded me, strengthened some gifts and opened others. It is making me who I am and who God sees that I am. It’s as if God gently placed a mirror in my hand and whispered to me to lighten up, see my true beauty and let go of the rest.

Wow … can I do that? I’ve been wrapped so tight so long, can I remember? Can I also unwrap this identity created around falseness?

If I think about it, I have already survived one of my worst fears: living with chronic pain. I’ve learned to manage pretty well and, really, have taken responsibility for that in many areas of my life, such as committing to regular exercise, changing my diet, figuring out sleep. One I have been clinging to is looking at it as a problem instead of an opportunity. The greatest gift has been a reason to slow my pace and discover God within.

I have been more afraid of living than dying. Sounds so ridiculous when I see it on paper. Now that my eyes have been opened to viewing difficulty as an opportunity, the fear seems to recede. As Susan Jeffers, author of the book on fear, writes, one of the truths about fear is that the only way to get rid of it is to go out and do the thing that scares you.

Maybe I need to start living instead of dying.

• What drives my fears?
• How have they hindered me?
• How have a taken time to explore them?
• Where do I find God in all of this?
• Is there a particular message for me here?

I used to be this and that
could do this and that

now, I can’t

that’s what my ego has said

it’s held me hostage
as its victim

but God has reached
in, deeper than the ego

and given me a glimpse
of truth
and beauty
and light


  1. Awesome post! I have had a similar realization this summer. I could feel the tenseness of my body at the end of the day, and I just felt worn out. Fear can sometimes linger in the background in the subconscious and we don't even know it's there until we see our life situation and realize it for what it is, and then face it. For myself, I just had to take the gloves off, so to speak. I had to realize that fear of not accomplishing my goals was taking its toll, and life was never meant to be lived in such a way. Like you, discovering god within and learning to enjoy the journey more than the end result has been an awesome recent experience .

    Thanks for sharing this post!

  2. Thank you, Joshua ... always wonderful to know our experiences aren't isolated, but shared by others even if we feel alone. That lingering is a killer, isn't it? I so appreciate your comments. Blessings on your journey!
    -- Cathy

  3. This is an awesome post and I couldn't have read it at a better time. I'm about to embark on a long fear filled journey of living in India for 5 months alone and that scares me to death. I'm not sure of what its going to be like or what's going to happen to me. I'm also afraid that I will not be able to accomplish what I'm here for, but this post helps me to remember to trust in God, trust in myself and just surrender. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. So good to hear from you, Manjusha. I can't wait to hear all that unfolds for you on your new adventure! How utterly exciting. Last week's Quaker worship centered on simplicity and it occurred to me that the simplest thing is to surrender/trust, but it's also the hardest. Blessings on your journey and I hope you can, somehow, keep me in the loop! Do you have a blog?
    -- Cathy