Thursday, September 7, 2006

Dealing with my own fear

Growing up we went to a church that was based on some very DEEP Biblical teaching. I was too young to really understand most of it at the time, but my mother assures me that the teaching she got there was "ahead of its time". I do have a few things that stuck in my mind from there, most of it I take with a skeptical grain of salt due to the fact that the pastor there went off the deep end later on...LONG story that I will have to share some time. Alot of the good that may have come from that church with me, has been negated by the fact that just as I was starting to become aware of things, relationships, and meanings, serious error had entered in and the glaring, cultish, qualities that began to take shape, were what stand out in my mind. I did take one peice with me however that after years of holding that nugget to the test of time and reality, I found truth in.

"Fear opens the door to Satan"

The only reason I can think of that this stuck with me is the fact that I was about 11 years old when I heard it being taught and it made me afraid to be afraid. Oh what a vicious cycle! My parents were going through a divorce at the time and my mother was working again. I became not only a latch-key kid, having to spend after school hours alone, but due to my mother's commute, I was also alone for a few hours in the EARLY morning hours till my dad would come take me to school. Needless to say, there was alot of opportunity to be afraid. The more afraid I was, the more afraid I would be that Satan or demons would come inside me. At least in the mind of a 10 or 11 year old child that's how it seemed.

As I matured, that phrase began to take on a new meaning for me. I experienced as an adult, a night or two of waking up in a cold sweat, feeling the URGENT need to pray for someone or something. The problem was that I had dreamed something terrifying leading up to that wakefulness, that left me feeling paralyzed-afraid even to breath, much less whisper a prayer. It was after a couple of these experiences that I realized that God wanted me to pray, but Satan did NOT. What was the weapon he used? FEAR.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that fear almost always has that effect in varying degrees. Whether we are petrified and rendered immobile, or simply avoid doing something we want to do because there is a measure of fear involved, in fear, Satan has a tool with which to render the strongest in the faith, useless to God.

"Fear opens the door to Satan"

Now I am pretty sure that this term was used in the discussion of demonic powers. I am skeptical about the ability for demons to enter a Christian. How can a demon live in someone that Jesus lives in. My faulty memory may have served to imply that meaning anyway. But certainly, I do believe that certain fears DO attach themselves to us. I use the personification of fear as an analogy. I once imagined it being like a little demon-like, winged creature sitting on our heads with its claws sunk into our brains.

Certainly we have childhood fears we carry with us into adulthood, but there are also the fears we develop as a result of being hurt-either physically or emotionally. Those fears are not easily shaken. They do indeed feel at times, especially if we are aware that it is fear that is driving us or holding us back, like it has its claws sunk into us.

Which brings me to the scripture 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Now this is the scripture I learned as a child. The King James Version. I still memorize KJV because the poetic sound to it makes it easier to memorize, but not neccessarily easier to understand. Needless to say, as a child, I did not find those moments that I was afraid to be anything near a "sound mind" experience. I just didn't get it. The New American Standard Version says, "For God has not given us a (A)spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." and the New International Version says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of SELF-discipline."

Okay, what the hey has discipline, much less SELF-discipline have to do with overcoming fear? Power I get. I mean if we are to wrestle "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"(Eph. 6:12), we are going to need some power, right? Love is always a great motivator. I mean, to fear death is a pretty natural fear, but who doesn't love someone enough that they would die for them? If not your spouse, then certainly you would give up your own life to save your child's life. But self-discipline...???

Now some of you may have already seen the connection, but I am a bit thicker than that. Maybe is was just that I didn't WANT to see the connection. After reading this article by Pastor David Moore, I finally got it. "Courage isn't the abscence of fear, it's the commitment to continue." Isn't a commitment to continue, self-discipline? And certainly, when you overcome fear by committing to continue, isn't that same fear replaced with a sound mind? I am stretching a bit in order to convey the thought. I understand it in my own mind, but sometimes I just can't organize the thought processes enough to make all the connections when trying to explain.

To put this in context, I will refer back to this post. I do fear success even in the photography I love so much. There is still so much I don't know, so much to learn yet. I have a working knowledge, but I don't just want to be a run-of-the-mill studio photographer. That's where the money is unless you get recognition enough to start working for publications or for agencies. I look at Anne Geddes and am so in awe and so overwhelmed. Then I think about my age and realize what a late start I am getting. WOW. Should I even try? I could put that time and energy into my kids and hope that one of them will develop my passion for photography at an early age so I can live vicariously through them. Do I really have time enough to develop the kind of talent I WANT to have? Fear, plain and simple. I can talk myself out of anything. I mean, I never wanted anything so bad as I do success in this, but the idea that I may finish what I'm doing and still not be any better, or that I may eventually get better and have my own studio and equipment and not have the sticktoitivness.

I have written here in the past about finally realizing success won't come to me, I have to DO something to make it happen. So in an amazing, sudden burst of courage,(the kind defined above), I started trying to set some things in motion. Each step I took, it would seem that God was matching my stride. Now each time I took a step and God helped, I DID experience a sound mind. Then fear would creep back in and I'd have to start the process all over again. I am looking at the end of the initial process and starting to feel that urge to "give up, it's not going to work out anyway". So the next step, as I understand it, is to commit to keep on.

Hopefully, my next post of substance will be on the process of disciplining myself. If I can discipline myself enough to do it. :-)