My 1-year-old grandson is fearless. He toddles headlong towards the stairs – with no knowledge of how to go down them. Watching him, it occurs to me that we humans learn fear as part of growing up.
We learn to fear many different kinds of things. Some of these are physically painful like lions and tigers and bears, flames, and running with scissors. Some leave emotional scars like rejection, being lost and alone, not being loved. Some are are just really, really scary like failure and the unknown.
At first, we learn from first-hand experience, but then we cleverly get to seeing what others go through and can transfer ourselves into their shoes. Perhaps this is one of the marks of maturity: a sense of Rational Deductive Cautiousness.
But as with everything I do, I found the danger in the extremes. I tend to get obsessive. And, in my past, this led to the strangest fear of all: the fear – not of failure, for I was overly comfortable with that – but of success.
Is this the hardest of all fears to find? Perhaps. It certainly takes the longest time to develop. This is because it is the result of conditioning – a seeming lifetime of negativity. I arrived at a point where I expected misery and loss, and therefore kept minimal expectations.
And I even put obstacles in my own path. I self-sabotaged, self-condemned any attempt before it even began.
I discern two reasons for this happening. First, the root cause of fear of success is the idea – what I thought I knew – that I was not worthy of succeeding. I did not deserve it. Feeling unloveable went hand in hand with that.
Another long-term effect of being afraid of any happy ending is that I just “got used to less.” Success became a strange and foreign thing, something completely different, unfamiliar and potentially uncomfortable (or so I thought).
“What do you fear, my lady?”
“A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them
and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.”
The solution, which I continue to discover in my journey of healing and transformation, is
#1: accepting The Maker’s love for me. “For He so loved the world...” He created me. He knows my name, and everything about me. And this is a very good thing!
#2: Quite plainly, the evidence of my life backs this up. I remain alive – for something good. I am clearly blessed – in spite of all the material things I lack.
#3: My fear is the result of leaning on my own understanding and abilities, instead of trusting in the Lord with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5)
#4: 1 Corinthians 10:13:
…He will also provide a way out…
I’m guided to that way out by ‘landmarks’ carefully placed in my everyday routine. These are obstacles – not to my success, but the means of blocking my falling and failure. That was then. This is now.
In valor there is hope.
In other words, these days I work to put obstacles in the way of relapse, to prevent old habits and patterns from returning. These are things that I would very consciously have to step around in order to do ____. Their presence gives me pause, a chance to think carefully about what I am thinking about doing. I have a moment “to test and approve what God’s will is” (Romans 12:2)
And, sometimes, these days, I am “strong and courageous… not afraid or terrified… and I know God is with me… will not fail or forsake me” (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Chronicles 28:20) and I can pray, repent, turn back to Him.
Obstacles to relapse will be different for everyone. Here are some examples of mine:
– we keep no alcohol in our house
– in the early days of recovery, I changed my driving routes to avoid old haunts
– computer monitoring apps/software keep me away from tempting sites
– I deleted all RPG video games
– I cleaned house of adult entertainments and toys
And, what I call OMKIP: On My Knees In Prayer.
As I’ve recently written about, nightly I get on my knees in prayer, thanking God for His blessings and mercy, and begging His protection from thoughts, visions, dreams, fantasies, and memories which would entice me away from how I offer my body as a living sacrifice, whole, holy and pleasing to Him. (Romans 12:1)
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, STAND FIRM.
Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58