Some of my favorite childhood memories are of lazy weekend days spent watching movies with my brothers and sisters. In addition to some terrible bootleg copies of Disney movies, we also had a smattering of films that we had taped off of the TV. One of those movies was The Wizard of Oz. When it was my turn to choose, I almost always picked Dorothy and Toto and the ever-delightful yellow brick road. But each time we watched it, and the Wicked Witch of the West arrived on the scene, I began to regret my choice. I mean, that lady was scary…her laugh, her terrible green face, and don’t even get me started on the monkeys. I was afraid. And yet, time and again, I made the same choice. Why?
When we’re children, there is something kind of great and exciting about being afraid. We love roller coasters and ghost stories and sometimes even wicked witches who torment young girls in ruby slippers. But as we get older, fear takes on a whole other life. Our fears become much more significant and real. We fear things like disappointing our families, losing our loved ones, or messing up our kids because of our own issues. And it is all too easy to let those fears rule us. I know this because for the last couple of months, I have let worry and anxiety lead me. Fear has been the boss of me. I wrote a little bit of my story when I visited Elizabeth Stevens Omlor’s blog in November. If you read what I wrote there, it sounds like I had a little panic attack, made some changes, and things were all better. But I am learning that the battle against fear is not so easily won.
It’s a new year…a time to make resolutions…to choose words and taglines and symbols that propel us toward growth. It won’t come as a surprise that mine is…
BE NOT AFRAID
Parker J. Palmer, in his wonderfully enlightening book, LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK, says that this call to “Be not afraid,” doesn’t mean that we cannot have fear. Everyone has fear. But it does mean that we do not need to BE the fear we have.
We have places of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well–places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places, to stand on ground that is not riddled with the fault lines of fear, to move toward others from a place of promise instead of anxiety. As we stand in one of those places, fear may remain close at hand and our spirits may still tremble. But now we stand on ground that will support us, ground from which we can lead others toward a more trustworthy, more hopeful, more faithful way of being in the world.
So here’s to 2013. A year to choose hope and not fear. A year to let faith rule. Lift high your buckets and toast with me, to a year of dousing the wicked witch until she melts into nothingness. Cheers!