the fear, the light, and doing it afraid

i’m afraid. it’s not uncommon. i have felt afraid all my life. since i can remember. laying in bed when i was little, staring up at the dark ceiling, walking through the dark church sanctuary when the light switch was on the other side of the room, getting up at night to go to the bathroom and being afraid that something would grab me, dreaming that something did grab me. It was always the dark, that was the common thread of my fear… the dark, unseen, unknown.

But now, here i stand in the day light, i’m able to see clearly what’s around me… maybe it’s too bright now. i’m in the light, but instead of feeling comforted by being able to see what’s around me, i feel exposed, afraid of what will happen when i’m seen. Hindsight has brought clarity, but it doesn’t bring any guarantees. A few weeks back, in my last trauma therapy session, i saw myself on an island, a beautiful place made up almost entirely of a mountain. There were pools and streams of healing water, beautiful open fields and wooded areas around the mountain’s base, and my husband and children were with me. It was ours to discover… together, to swim in the water and be healed, to run and dance and play in the warm light, to Love and know Love… but here i stand in the brightness of the sun, in the clarity of hindsight, with the hope for adventure and discovery, and i’m terrified.

The thing that I’ve learned about coming out of trauma and finding healing, is that it doesn’t take the fear away. Fear is the thing that for my whole life held me frozen in place, covering my head with the blankets at night, staying silent instead of engaging in confrontation, hiding inside myself in stead of risking being seen. Going through the process of facing those things doesn’t mean life isn’t scary to me anymore… it just means I now, instead of having an automatic trauma response to flight, I have the choice to take a step forward, to keep moving, to choose to take the risk to love and be loved in vulnerability. But I still have to make that choice, there’s nothing automatic about it anymore.

bright light

So here I find myself in the blinding, bright light of discovery, unhidden and vulnerable to  what waits for me, and the choice I get to make in this moment is how will I choose to see this adventure? The question I get to ask and answer is what do I believe? Do I believe that God is good? Do I believe that I indeed have a good Father who has a good future and hope for me? I’ve said (mostly) without wavering that yes, this is what I believe, this is what I have, all the while hiding out, waiting for things to truly be safe before taking the risk of being exposed. However, my actions showed what I really believed. I did not in fact believe that God was good and that He cared for me. My actions showed that I had to care for myself, protect myself, find a good hiding place and stay there, which is precisely what I did.

I’ve been hearing the Spirit invitation for years now; Sallie, come out of hiding. Be who I made you to be. And now, here I stand on the sandy beach of this discovery, blinking in the blinding light of Love, having come out of the cave that kept me safe all these years… safe but wretchedly alone, safe but utterly cut off, safe but drowning in sadness.  And now with every step forward, I get to choose to breathe through the fear and do it anyway, no longer in petrified inaction, no longer hiding.

Here is to the new adventure. Here is to doing it afraid.

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