Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Anyone who experienced fear as a child raise your hand.

Anyone who has experienced fear as an adult raise your hand. Ok that might be another post but I figured I’d ask.

Hmm. Same number of people raising their hands in both groups. Who woulda thunk it? Right and of course we all have fears as children. Normal fears that stem from being small and everything else being large. Fears that stem from being dependent on somebody else. Well, look let’s face it, everyone experiences fear as a kid because we’re small and dependent. Monsters under the bed, your favorite teddy bear turns into Jack the Ripper in the dark, your mother is away for a few days are you sure she’s coming back?

And although we are not as children conscious of these thoughts, frequently as adults we are not conscious of these thoughts, these motivating forces they are there for everyone. And so my father comes into my room and assures me in his way as strongest and bravest and most handsome man on the face of the earth – there absolutely IS NOT another father as good as my father in the whole world – that the teddy bear has not come to life in the form of Godzilla. And when mom comes back in a couple of days I am the first person she goes to and I have the opportunity to tell her how much I missed her and how afraid I was that she wasn’t coming back and she puts my fears to rest, assures me that she will always come back. And so I’m good. Fears have been allayed, mom and dad are there doing their job, got my back and I’m good. Let’s go check out what’s on TV.

The normal fears of childhood… check. Parents interceding… check. Fears vanquished… check. Normal childhood development… check.

I’m five years old and its two in the morning and I’m not feeling so good. I know that feeling, I’ve had it before and I’m pretty damn sure that I’m going to be throwing up all over the place within the hour. This does not feel good. Somehow I need to make it from my bed to the bathroom in the dark. Problem is that mom doesn’t like her sleep disturbed in fact she was pretty darn annoyed the last time I woke her up when I was sick. She kind of scares me.

There’s someone there, I’m sure of it, there’s somebody downstairs. Oh that’s ridiculous she tells me, there’s nobody there. Go back to your room and go to sleep.

This kid at school, he’s not so nice to me. He calls me names, knocks me down on the playground at school, he’s always there waiting for me to say something dumb so he can tell me how stupid I am. He makes me nervous and I don’t realize it (I’m five) but I’m always looking over my shoulder at school, making sure the coast is clear because if I’m not paying attention this kid is likely to sneak up when I’m not looking and knock me in my ass. Ignore him I’m told. He’s only chosen me to pick on because he gets a reaction out of me, the other kids they ignore him. That’s what you do with a bully, you ignore him and he’ll go away – or so she tells me.

Hmm… I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a drink in his hand. I wonder if all fathers drink like that? I don’t think so. They fight constantly. Again. At night. While I’m trying to fall asleep. What if he dies? Men have heart attacks all the time. All that scotch can’t possibly help in fact it’s got to hurt.

Oh that’s ridiculous I tell myself. He’s not going to have a heart attack, he’s not going to die, go to sleep. You see she’s echoing in my head now. I don’t even have to go to her anymore, which is probably best anyway cause she scares me a little. And besides I already know what she’s going to say. It’s ridiculous, I know it. It’s ridiculous. I’m being stupid to be so afraid.

Fear is a vapor that sneaks in under the crack in the door un-noticed by everyone in the room. It is insidious and silent and when it is not put in its proper perspective by the people who are supposed to put it in its proper perspective, when in fact it is denied by those same people or worse caused by those same people it burrows its way in undetected and it permeates the soul and it leaves room for little else.

An aspect of faith is clarity. Psychological, emotional and spiritual clarity. There cannot be faith where fear is manifest. It is antithetical.

Sometimes it is easier to talk about what faith is not rather than what it is. I think this is because what it IS varies from person to person but what it IS NOT is universal.


  1. I had always thought of faith as "belief" but more recently I've come to read about faith as "trust" which is perhaps what you are getting at here.

    If I believe ghosts exist do I have faith in ghosts? Same thing with God. Just because I believe God exists doesn't mean I have faith in Him/Her/It. But if I trust that God is going to alleviate my fear and keep me safe -then I have faith in God.

    That's how I'm starting to see things.

    I know that my lack of faith has very real root issues. My parents were neglectful/abusive drunks. I didn't trust them when I was a child. They scared me. Both of them. In fact, I didn't trust anyone. Adults were all messed up and the world was about to fall apart at any given moment. I still feel the same basically.

  2. Hi LM - first of all it would be unrealistic to have faith in the idea that God is going to keep you safe. I suppose it depends on what your definition of 'safe' is but if you think that just because you have faith or trust in God then you won't fall victim to a mugger or some other unfortunate pitfall or violent crime I'd say there's a good chance you're going to be very disappointed by him at some point (or many points) in your life.

    With this post I am not attempting to define by means of some sweeping statement or even by means of one single word ‘what faith is’. Faith has many, many aspects and those aspects will vary from person to person. Please understand that when I say ‘faith’ the closest I can come to what I mean is to define it as an experience of God that results in a knowing of him, a knowing of his existence within me. It is a knowing that wells up from deep inside. It does not come externally by seeing him in the birds or the ocean or what have you. It is a true knowing of his existence within me, from within the deepest part of me. As I said there are aspects that vary from person to person but I would like to add one caveat. I do believe that there are aspects of faith (or we can also call it knowing) that are the same across the board for everyone. If it were not so how would we know that we in fact have this knowing? If you doubt this you can pick up any piece of mystical literature and it matters not the theological doctrine i.e. Christian, Jewish, Muslim and I would also include Buddhist, Native American (or any other Indian society). They all share certain similar aspects. The desired end result might be different or rather what they believe is there or rather what they’re ‘shooting’ for but there are absolutely aspects that are the same across the board. That’s because regardless of the theological belief system we are in every circumstance talking about human beings. Philosophical, ideological beliefs aside there are simply some aspects of it that must be the same.

    My goal with this post was to take one very small aspect of my faith experience and write about it. This small aspect is pertinent to me because fear was a very defining aspect of the environment in my formative years. I can see now many years later how profoundly affected I was by it. The realization of this is just one small piece of the veil that is torn away for me on my way to (I hope) an even deeper understanding of God. It is and will continue to be an evolving experience that will not end, or at least not in this lifetime.
    I so get your struggle to understand. I went through it and I continue to go through it daily. Enlightenment does not come nearly fast enough. Please keep with it because it can only be in that struggle that you will come to more clarity, little by little.

  3. I think of safe as being "okay" with whatever happens; being able to cope with what is. I guess I think of safe as meaning my soul is protected regardless of what is happening on the outside. I don't believe that it is God's plan to intervene on our behalf whenever "bad things" happen. That's life on earth!

    Some very interesting thoughts on faith in this post and comment. I've added the book you recommended, "The Inner Experience" to my library list. I'll definitely check it out (eventually!) Thanks.