The Greatest Masquerade
The Greatest Masquerade
If religion is spiritual disease, fear is poison. Fear may be the greatest obstacle standing between all we could be, and the fulfillment of our dreams and destiny. Owning your true identity, and becoming the best version of yourself, will require the greatest battle of your life. Facing your worst fears. The Bible says "He is made strong in our weakness". It's not saying The Lord wants us weak so He can be strong. But that because of His ability to work with/in us despite of our weakness, His strength is seen. And the end result is that our disqualifications - our state of "unqualified" - we become the greatest examples of His power and strength. When we face our fears, we become fearless.
In the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of getting to know my parents in a new and different way. We've had many conversations about life, love, and history. As their child grown up, it is fascinating to hear stories about their lives and struggles. To find out about things you never knew or thought your parents had experienced or lived through. But interestingly enough, for them to find out about you also, and hear your perspective from growing up as their child. My mother and I were having one such conversation recently about fear. She was describing her early years growing up, and how fearful she was. And that fear had always just "been" there. There was no apparent reason for it's presence in her life - no obvious tragedy, abuse, or incident to attribute it too. I also grew up the same way. There is one story my mother and I both remembered vividly. It is as far back as my mind can remember as a child. When I was about four or five years old, I had given my parents quite a scare. I had been playing in the wooded area by my child hood home, and it had gotten dark out. This was back when parents would come outside and "call" you in for the night. And I remember my mother calling my name, over and over again. And the sound in her voice was distress and worry. It was not the usual tone that simply implied "come in for the night". I immediately went into a panic. I can recall the fearful feeling as I type. Thoughts in my mind were telling me "you're in serious trouble now, you did something very very wrong, you're parents are angry with you, if you let them find you - you will be severely punished". Even though I had done nothing wrong, nor did I know why she was apparently so worried this time. Nor would I have been in trouble had I just come home.
But in this case, something inside of me was telling me I was in trouble. I didn't know what to do! So I hid motionless in the woods just within eye-sight of my home. And after some time had past, and it had grown darker out, my mom got in her car and drove down the street to look for me. And my father came walking (within feet of me) in the woods with a flashlight calling my name. As soon as they were both out of sight, I made a run for it! I ran as fast as I could inside my house, and into my room where I hid under my bed. And eventually my parents came home, and found me under the bed, where I pretended to be asleep. I had avoided punishment (in my mind, even though their intention was never punishment to being with) - they were obviously relieved when they found me. And had believed I had just been asleep under my bed the whole time. Which was what I was hoping they would do. This many years later, as my mother and I talked about the incident, she asked me why I hid. And why I didn't come home when they called me. And I explained that for some reason I feared them. I always thought their anger and ability to punish me was always stronger than their love for me. I grew up without a sense of feeling "safe". In fact, most of my childhood years, I grew up around people, situations, substance, and circumstances that fueled the fear in me. The truth is, I didn't need a rational reason to feel unsafe or punished. It was just a part of me. And many times, the voices in my mind would intensify my fear to an irrational level. Sadly, I grew up under the influence of this fear for many years. The older I got, and the more I learned, fear would adapt and change. My fears were not the same as they were when I was five, but they had adjusted to be relevant to my age and experience in life. And life had no problem adding more reasons to be fearful as I got older. Everything I did, and all of who I was, was interwoven with my fears. The way I perceived my life, myself, others, and my future - the way I spoke, responded, acted, and expected others to treat me - were all under the power and influence of my fear.
About a month ago I was driving to Atlanta, which takes 5-6 hours usually. And I was speaking to The Lord about a great deal of things. And I began to ask Him about why some people do the things they do. And why it felt so hard for me to live out of the knowledge I already had at times. If I know something, why is it so hard to live it sometimes? I can't possibly write all He spoke to me in five hours in this one blog, but He taught me a profound lesson about fear. And how it really effects us when we live under it's influence. Fear is the greatest masquerade. It distorts our ability to see clearly, and creates false illusions that are simply not real. When we fall under the power of it's influence, we begin to believe these illusions. In really extreme and severe cases, it can cause paranoia, bi-polar like symptoms, utter hopelessness, and suicide. The term "worry yourself to death" becomes a true statement. As you literally believe yourself into the worry that fear creates, and urges you to take desperate measures to end the torment it causes.
As I was driving The Lord gave me a mental picture of what real faith and real fear could look like, in a way that I could understand it. That image is below.
The Lord showed me that this is what it looks like when we live in discernment. When we have faced our fears and see it for what it really is. We see in black and white so to speak. The colors are clear; fear is easily identified, as is faith. And as a result, we can overcome what we can identify, through the truth that He has provided us. I am not saying the process is easy. And it will take another blog post to cover how to overcome and face your fears. But nothing can be dealt with if you don't know what it is first. A doctor relies on symptoms and tests to identify sickness, to prescribe a remedy. We also must identify our fears, to know what to face, in order to overcome our way to freedom. The next image shows what it looks like when we live in fear. Which again, is just an illusion.
As you can see, both colors are present, both are visible. But they overlap, and are interwoven. It is not clear that you are seeing either/or. It is a distorted view. This is how fear affects our lives. It creates and adds distortion to areas of our greatest potential. And often times, we (sadly) respond and react at our worst when influenced by fear. A lot of you might be familiar with the "fight or flight" concept. And it is true, as fear begins to overwhelm us at any given time, we will either feel compelled to flee for safety. Or retaliate to fend and ward off. I want to clarify that I'm not talking about reverential fear (respect). Like a fear of heights or touching a hot stove. This is your mind issuing caution to us, to help us not be stupid. But fear will also masquerade as caution, and it's important to know the difference. Caution is the ability to discern when you should protect yourself (your identity) from the influence of external forces. Fear is the influence of internal and external forces affecting our well being/identity.
Some of our worst fears are often created after being severely hurt. And instead of confronting the fear head-on, we only pacify the pain. We "cover up" the fear and masquerade as if the fear doesn't even exist. By doing so, we think we are protecting ourselves from being hurt the same way. But instead we are creating another issue that has a more profound effect in our life. We will do anything to avoid pain, even at the expense of great pleasure. Fear is an illusion, and if you don't deal with it like a disease - and only medicate the pain - eventually you will become it's slave. Inaction only fuels fear. Faith takes risk despite and in-spite of fear. Proving the illusion, blowing it's cover, and empowering you to crush it's stronghold. Fear is in the mind. Faith comes from a conviction in the heart. Conviction is really just a fancy word for "strong and deep awareness". In other words, when something becomes so clear to you that you can't really avoid it's acknowledgment. The key is not letting fear (no matter what it's origin) take root in your mind and life. Not letting it rewrite who you are and control the outcome of your daily life. Fear will always stand in the way of your destiny until you confront it head-on. I believe most of us probably know what those areas of our life are. But if you are not sure, I would pray and ask God to show you the areas of your life where fear has control. Be honest, open, and willing to see what He reveals. And be willing to face whatever is revealed no matter how hard it feels like it will be. This is a vital step toward becoming the best version of yourself, stepping into the fullness of your identity, and stripping the limitations off your destiny. The truth is this: in the absence of fear there is freedom. More to come. Stay desperate for him!