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And This Is the Fear


And This Is the Fear

Yelena Tower

by Yelena Tower

Today I am God's. Let me be cut down, redistributed, rebuilt from the ground up.

So much of me wants to be good already. To have everything figured out, to never fail. And so I'm constantly lamenting how I mess up; I'm not perfect; I've let my expectations down. Then I'm free to hate myself, because who would love someone who's not perfect? And I feel justified in avoiding other people because (it feels) I don't deserve them.

When I'm the arbiter of my own goodness... it's more than I can take. When I act like I am deeply, fundamentally, irreparably bad... it invites abuse.

Then the hardest thing is to turn all this over to God.

It's through the grace of God that we're able to break this cycle. No matter how we envision it, our lives need to be shaken up and burned to the ground, tossed out to sea, refounded and rebuilt and resettled. We have to let go of everything to have anything in the end. Hannah Whitall Smith writes about the "mountain that hides God from our eyes." More persuasive than love and mercy -- our guilt and anger about whatever we think we've done wrong. We're separated from God. The barrier seems permanent. But when we treat things that way, the imbalance costs us our souls.

For me, I want so much to be good, and God is calling me to drop that and just be. To do things not fanatically. To settle down and love. To accept that everything will be stripped away. I don't know if it's been stripped away yet; God is leading me to accept the not knowing, to fling myself joyfully into the abyss. It's the hardest thing to do, as all my encrusted ego rises up in protest. But I'm trying, each time I remember, to let it go and dive.

I'm afraid... that I won't be the same after.

I'm afraid... that I won't recognize myself.

I'm afraid... that I'll be hard and brittle and fierce, and I'll end up alienating everyone I love.

I'm afraid... that all this will come to pass, and I won't know God after all.

I'm afraid... that I am actually okay as I am, in which case what have I been doing this whole time in trying to change?

O God, have mercy on me. I can't feel your presence while I'm scared to death of it. This too is yours. I love you and commit myself to you, soldering my fearful body to you in trust. Amen.