Advent Meditations “Do Not Be Afraid”
The American Counseling Association outlines a process of addressing and then deconstructing one’s core fear (called “digging for gold”). By working through this process, one can quickly and reliably reveal the core thought that has been distorting our perception and causing us to be afraid. This process works; I invite you to take a few minutes and give it a try.
Begin by writing down a problem on the top left of a page. Any problem works because all problems are born of the same core fear. Make sure your answer is stated as an actual problem and written in a single short phrase, such as “My friend insulted me” or “I can’t pay my bills.” Then write one of the following three questions on the right side of the same line of the page. Choose whichever of these questions seems most beneficial in generating answers:
1) Why is that upsetting to me?
2) What am I afraid will happen next?
3) What am I afraid that I will miss or lose?
Answer the above question with another single short phrase. This answer should state a new problem that brings you one level closer to the core fear underlying the original problem. Next, ask one of the same three questions again and respond with a single short answer. Continue with this process until you arrive at what you will recognize as the core fear — a fundamental truth about the real source of the problem you started with. (See box below for the structure of exercise).
You will know you have arrived at the core fear when you a) keep getting the same answer to the questions and can no longer find a deeper source of fear and b) have an “aha!” experience, a profound recognition that the answer explains something essential at the bedrock of your thinking. Spontaneous connections between the core fear and important events from the past can become apparent, and sometimes this is a lot to process and deal with. BUT – it’s worth it because then you can begin to recognize how you deal with the fears and what steps you can take in overcoming your fear.
So, I cheated, and thanks to tons of money over the past decade in therapy, I know that my root fear is “fear of abandonment.” Because of my childhood and a few other things that happened as significant events in my life, my root fear is that those who care about me will “Poof! Begone!” And not just leave, but when things are seemingly great, they will immediately change without any forewarning, and my world will be upside down. Because I know this is my core fundamental fear, now I can guard the decisions I make. I can make sure I’m not doing things out of fear but instead out of logic. Does it work all the time? No. But awareness is the first step, and it’s key.
I’m not writing this so you can all know “my business.” Frankly, it’s a little disarming to be this transparent. But, I know that we all wrestle with fears. Just as the Israelite people did throughout their history, we are told in 1 John 4:17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God, and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us —our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. The way to live in Christ, the way to live into the Kingdom of God here and now, is to be free of our fears. I invite you to do the exercise today.
(If you’d like to read more, I invite you to check out the full article HERE).
Grace and Peace,