"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt (in his first inaugural address – 1933)
We’ve all felt that “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror” that stops us in our tracks. Sometimes though, fear isn’t so obvious. It creeps into our thoughts as concern and into our words and deeds as we navigate daily life. Perhaps we don’t notice feeling especially fearful, but we find ourselves worrying. That worry can lead us down any number of destructive paths. It blocks us from the creative flow of the Universe.
The antidote is faith. I’m coming to understand more deeply that I respond (or react) to life’s events from one or the other – fear or faith. One brings me joy and curiosity. The other brings stress and pain.
Developing faith first requires us to know what we believe. I personally believe in an abundant, loving Universe that offers a cornucopia of opportunity of all shapes, forms and colors. All that is asked of me is to ask, trust, and step forward to receive.
After we come to understand what we believe (or perhaps even what we think we might or could believe), faith requires consistent practice, bringing our belief into everything, to each event life brings our way. In making this my practice (and in sometimes forgetting to do so) I’ve strengthened my conviction about the nature of the Universe.
This week, I’ve had the opportunity to choose faith rather than stepping into fear when, much to my chagrin, I discovered that I’d made a costly error. I misread the ‘free trial period’ offer for a course that I wanted to try out, and when I called to cancel, I was told that I wouldn’t receive a full refund because I was beyond the trial period. I felt a surge of energy. I paused. I took a breath. I made my case and admitted my error as I talked with a customer service representative and up the chain to his boss. I kept in check what could have easily become fear expressed as anger.
When the conversation ended and after a brief ‘you should have paid more attention’ conversation with myself, I plugged into my belief that the resources I need will come and that being angry would block the flow. I stopped any conversation in my head about ‘them’ or ‘me’. At day’s end an email informed me that ‘voila’ I had a new client, a step on the path to recovering my loss.
This week, I’ve also had the opportunity to observe a community conversation around the budget and proposed fee increases by the agency that provides water and sanitation services. Some residents have expressed concern that increases will continue and they won’t be able to afford to live in the community. As the conversation has unfolded via email to board members (I serve on the board) and on social media, I’ve observed some who engage in angry, inaccurate comments stated as fact. They seem to have no interest in dialog. From my perspective, they are grounded in fear.
Others are concerned, but come forth with questions and curiosity about how we can do this differently. I sense that, while they don’t know the answers, they have faith that we can chart a course that works. Watching this conversation up close and personal and preparing to participate in it when I chair tomorrow’s board meeting, has me wonder ‘what is the world we will create when we choose faith over fear’? I don’t know, but my imagination likes the look and feel of this possibility for myself personally, for my community, and for the planet.