Gratitude for Fear

About a week ago, I wrote about not letting fear run the house. I didn't elaborate on something, and it's too glaring an omission to let go.

While sometimes our fear is disproportionate to the situation (and perhaps would be better called anxiety), there is holy fear that takes care of us. There is fear that is a Great Big Neon Sign and we would do well to respect it. One of the best things I've ever read on this is Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, and I can't recommend it highly enough. A great point de Becker makes is that we shouldn't dismiss our intuition as irrational. Usually, our intuition is an understanding of facts and clues that didn't consciously register-- but they're still concrete evidence.

The tricky thing about real fear (as opposed to anxiety, insecurity, etc.) is that the only way to know for sure whether we're right is to ignore it. We won't get a postcard in the mail saying, "Congratulations! That dark alley really was unsafe! Good job!" We will, however, have confirmation that our intuition was right when we meet the shady character in the alley we decided to risk going down.

A lovely Navy chaplain once asked my mother, "if you thought of your gut feeling as the Holy Spirit's guidance, would you be more likely to listen to it?"

This is a really difficult subject for me right now, because my fear is saying one thing, and my sense of obligation is saying another. My fear is shouting about one course of action, and if I take it I'll lose something I've hoped for. Though that does make me think of missionary martyr Jim Elliot again-- "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."


  1. Holding you in prayer....


  2. Fear as the Holy Spirit's guidance--I love it! I wonder if there's a similar way I could see my anxiety. Hmm. Something to ponder . . .

  3. Still praying for you. I was telling someone about that book, The Gift of Fear, on Wednesday. I think it is a must read for everyone.

  4. Praying. And I always appreciate a book recommendation!

  5. fear also likes to run with uncertainty. thinking of you and your dude


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins