Friday, December 9, 2016

"fear has to face the God you know..."

"O my soul
you are not alone,
there's a place where fear
has to face the God you know..."

There are spiritual experiences that defy being framed adequately by words. Mary Baker Eddy once wrote of this inability of words that, "she lisped in numbers, for the numbers came." That is how I feel -- but I will try.

Sometimes it is more the sound of a song, than its words, that represent the heart's story. That is the case for me with this experience, and Casting Crown's beautiful "O my Soul." It speaks to the grace I felt, but can still barely hint at.  There is no way to adequately describe the full breadth of what this healing means to me.  But I will try.

For weeks I was in constant pain. Day and night. Nothing brought comfort or relief. The symptoms were aggressive and frightening. I was being bombarded with suggestions of specific diseases -- names, prognoses, timetables. And as frightening as it was, I had to get up each morning and persevere. I constantly asked myself, "What can you do -- right now?" This moment-by-moment stepping into what I could do -- was all that kept me from abject terror. I was still a mom with day-to-day responsibilities in raising our youngest children. I had work that I loved and am devoted to -- patients that I was committed to seeing spiritually. I needed to be able to go on. But it was getting more difficult. Day and night I prayed, claiming my spiritual freedom from the specific symptoms.

When I found it hard to think clearly I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me. Her unwavering clarity about my spiritual wellness was a lifeline. I can't tell you the specifics of what she said, but one night it became utterly clear to me that I was playing a metaphysical game of whack-a-mole. I would address one symptom, or suggestion, of mortality and physical vulnerability, and another would raise its ugly head. Each symptom brought with it, it's whole family of reasons to be afraid. I would get on top of one fear, and another would taunt me anew.

That night, as I was lying in the dark praying, the thought came so clearly, "this is not about what you think you are afraid of, it is all about the fear itself."  Typing that sentence now - and reading it - it looks so benign and so "of course -- duh!?!?!?" But in that moment,  it was such a big thought, so radical, so paradigm-shifting -- that it took my breath away.  I could see that fear existed without the symptoms, without the specific suggestions, without any reason for the fear.  Fear was the "enemy," not what I thought was causing my fear, or what I believed I was afraid of.

The symptoms, the names of the disease, the prognosis, the "what-ifs," the pain that had grabbed my attention and had not let go -- were not the cause of fear. Fear was the cause of the symptoms. Like I said, I am lisping in numbers here -- this feels so much bigger for me than what I can possibly describe.

In that moment everything took a turn. I wasn't trying to get rid of a disease, its symptoms, or its evidence -- so that I would not be afraid. I was going after fear itself. I stopped thinking that I was afraid of something. Or that fear was the by-product of a scary physical situation. Fear was the master manipulator -- gathering symptoms, names of diseases, reasons: heredity, contact, association -- and creating a story that justified its reason for having a hold on my thoughts. Keeping me focused on getting rid of symptoms that it compiled, and then added up to present as a forgone conclusion -- which it called a frightening disease -- kept me chasing after decoys. But I was no longer duped, I was going after fear itself -- not its minions.  I knew I was on the right track.

Yet that was only the first "aha" of the night -- the next one was even more vital. And it came so swiftly that I gasped. It wasn't me going after anything. This was God's "battle." God, Love, loved me. Love had never left me alone. Love had never neglected me. John gives us this promise in Scripture:

"there is no fear in Love..." 

The presence of Love in our hearts, destroys even the possibility of fear in us. Because Love is so clearly present in our hearts and lives, fear just cannot be. Love and fear can no more coexist than light and darkness. It wasn't a matter of me loving in a certain way, so that I could eradicate fear from my life.  That was God's province.  I felt love,  I knew the power of love, I had witnessed the presence of love -- therefore fear had never, could never, and would never be able to exist in this love-based environment that is my heart and fills my life. Love destroys fear -- period. And I was as sure of the presence of love in my heart, as I was of my own existence.

Each time a symptom would assert itself, each time the name of a disease would suggest that I was doomed, each time the thought would come, "I am afraid of..." I would reaffirm -- I am not fear-susceptible.  I am Love-based, Love-filled, Love-aware, Love-driven, Love-defined.

I found myself turning to Mary Baker Eddy's autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, for courage, and confirmation that what I was glimpsing -- was true. In the chapter, "The Great Discovery," she writes:

"Science saith to fear, “You are the cause of all sickness; but you are a self-constituted falsity, — you are darkness, nothingness. You are without ‘hope, and without God in the world.’ You do not exist, and have no right to exist, for ‘perfect Love casteth out fear.’"

She didn't say perfect love casts out disease, pain, sickness, symptoms, etc. But that perfect Love casteth out fear. She didn't say that the patient, or the practitioner, saith to fear, "you are nothingness..." But that Science saith to fear, 'you are nothingness...'' Science is doing all the talking.  Science, the laws of God, saying to fear, you are nothing. Moment-by-moment I felt my trust in this Science -- in this law of God operating, universally and without partiality -- grow and strengthen.

All symptom-based thinking, all disease-based treatment fell away. This had nothing to do with symptoms, pain, or disease.  This was all about God saying to fear,  "you are nothing." Not me.  Fear didn't have to face me, it had to face God -- the God I know to be all-powerful,  ever-present, always knowing Love.  Silly fear. 

And yes, this symptom-based thinking is insidious.  For example:  I remember at one point thinking that I should reach out to someone -- for spiritual treatment -- who had faced the same symptoms or disease, and found healing. As if the symptoms, or the name of a disease, would lead me to a healing perspective, or a healing solution.  As if a disease could inform my search for spiritual tender-kindness, absolute confidence in the presence of Truth.  Those who needed healing hadn't sought out Jesus -- to heal their leprosy -- because he'd been healed of those symptoms himself. They didn't seek him out because he had been blind, lame, deaf, lunatic. Experiencing disease didn't recommend him -- Love did. And his understanding of Love rendered fear nothing.

The specifics of a claim -- poverty, pain, hatred, disease, anger, death -- are distractions. They are not at the root of our fear. Fear is at the root of their symptomology. And fear is nothing. It is without hope -- without God in the world.

This healing has been one of the most beautiful awakenings in my life. And yet, if you had asked me before this experience if I thought that I already understood the truth of this Truth -- I would have said, "well of course, yes..." But I hadn't -- really. And you know, as profound as this insight feels,  I know that this Truth will just continue to evolve and grow even deeper in me.  But tonight, I am just so deeply grateful for what I have begun to glimpse -- day-by-day.  As I said, I lisp in numbers...

offered with Love,


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