catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 6 :: 2004.03.12 — 2004.03.25


A Beloved Enemy

He binds us in the recesses of our hearts and minds. He wraps himself around our lives in layers to affect our dreams, our potential, and our very perception of reality. He is an enemy that is not readily dismissed or easily discarded because we believe he is our friend; a friend whose subtle sickness weaves its way into our worldview and inextricably becomes a part of ourselves: who we think we are and who we will become.

Fear grows strong nursed upon reinforced trauma and disillusionment. Eventually, Fear and Pain join in Oedipal contortion to convince us, together, they are truth. Expectations coupled with dashed hopes; pedophilic control coupled with childhood innocence; broken promises coupled with tears of rejection and abandonment—regardless the circumstances, Pain becomes the fertile womb into which Fear is quick to spill his seed. In utero, perception is altered, the light and miracle of life grows dim and dies, and the child-weeds of rage, bitterness, hatred toward self and others, escapism, justification, and disillusionment germinate, come forth, and grow tall. Darkness and pride tenderly nanny them to encourage their roots to stretch and lengthen until they have become an essential (we believe) part of our living (dying) system. Years go by and we grow accustomed to the loss of water, health, light, and warmth. We distance ourselves from the capacity to really feel, truly love and become intimately involved in everyday on goings, to exercise vulnerability and grace, not only toward others, but more specifically toward ourselves. We feel incredible loneliness in Fear?s company, and yet we choose him, a beloved enemy, because he is whom we know.

Fear is a most formidable foe, and overcoming him requires a transitional journey from darkness to light that demands courage, clarity, commitment, and a confronting, loving community. He is aggressive, controlling, and demanding. He fosters an inward poverty that remains indescribable to those who have not experienced it. While not recognizing who oppresses us, we love and nurture his gift of inward poverty because he is familiar and safe to us. We trust Fear. We are satisfied with the false reality he helps us create rather than moving to embrace Pain ourselves—to redemptively confront and release her—so that we could and would move into a truer reality. Fear, and all his work, is confronted at some point in our lives. Suddenly, we realize that we are unwell, that our perceptions of ourselves, others, of life, and for life are skewed and in need of correction. Whatever circumstances catalyze that confrontation we find we have one of two options: take the path of healing or do not. There is no formula for the road-less-traveled, but the outcome of that journey, if authentic, is inevitable: personal and perceptual transformation.

Confrontation begs those, who find their realities shattered, their fears exposed, to ask some very deep questions, “How do I rid myself of what has controlled my life? Where do I begin? This is so deeply ingrained into who I have been, who I am, and who I will become I cannot gain enough clarity to change. Transformation from what to what, from where to where, from who to who?”

Those confronting questions cause Fear some fear. He whispers, “You don’t need to change; life is great the way it is. You’re just fine. If you walk this road of transformation you will know more pain. Do you want more pain?”

Those anguishing arguments many times go on for years in the lives of those who suffer, but at some point, with the help of God and others, love gives birth to strength. Strength lends us the courage to embrace Pain redemptively, which allows us to take one small step into healing and one big step into Truth. Courage is required to confront Fear. Clarity is also important in confronting Fear. Clarity involves a search for Truth. Truth exemplifies and dictates there is a right and wrong way to live, and within those perimeters of and for life—health grows and fear dies. If we are not clear about what constitutes health and freedom, it will be very difficult to move in an appropriate direction?away from Fear and toward something better. In a world that teaches truth is relative, to seek and embrace the reality of truth (if it exists) becomes a difficult task indeed. Truth is foundational to perception. Truth is the only One who can enter into the deepest darkness and bring light, hope, love, and clarity. Truth, in the Person of Jesus and His work on the cross, made manifest in the lives of those who have been controlled by Fear and Pain, brings transformation and freedom.

Freedom from Fear requires tremendous commitment. Transformation does not happen in a day or even in several years. It takes a lifetime. Healing is a journey of process, which requires grace toward others and us. It takes time to uproot what was created by the brokenness and darkness within and without our lives. Commitment allows us patience to watch the seeds of redemption to be planted, germinate, and grow tall. It will also allow the suffering the victory of being set free in their minds and lives, and to know and to offer others love and hope in a way they never conceived possible.

Essential to confronting Fear in our lives involves being held in community. The difficulty in seeking healing from within community is it is our interaction with community, which firstly damaged us. Fear and Pain are not created ex nihilo. Be they friend or foe, people wound people. It is counterintuitive to seek help from the places and people that have crushed us. Most often we would rather nurture blame and hatred toward those who wound us than humbly recognizing we, too, are members of a community, and have been persons or places of crushing as well.

Healing within community demands that we extend to others and to us the grace involved in commitment, the strength that offers courage, and the clarity found in the Person of Jesus. We are called, as a redeemed people, to give and receive what is bestowed upon us through Christ?s suffering: forgiveness and loving trust. Those gifts extended between individuals and community open the door within and without us to enter the home of Reconciliation, a place where Fear cannot reside.

God gave us community so that we would not have to face Fear and Pain alone. The reality of health is that we need to be held by others, to be sustained and transformed by observing and experiencing the imperfect demonstrations of God?s love and truth within them. We learn that the grace and trust we extend to others then become something we can extend to ourselves.

In a community that possesses the clarity of Christ, where courage and commitment are nurtured, we discover the strength and patience necessary to walk the path of healing: to be freed of Fear and Pain. In the safety of such a community we learn Pain is a womb that can nurture and give birth to either tremendous darkness or blinding light. Healing is the road of redemption. It takes what destroys us, and changes it into what grows us. There is no formula for the road-less-traveled, but the outcome of that journey, if authentic, is inevitable: personal and perceptual transformation.

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