The Grace of Fear

Recently, I met a good friend, who is scheduled to move to another country in a few months. As our time together was already limited, we had lunch and I, then, joined her in her errands for the day.

I was sad that she was leaving, but at the same time, I was excited for her as she embarks on a new chapter in her life.

I asked how she was as she was in the middle of handling all these transitions in her life.

Expectedly, she was having a hard time coping with the reality of leaving. She was afraid of the changes once she moves.

Who wouldn’t be? She will be leaving a meaningful career; she will be uprooting herself and leave her family and friends, where she has found consolation all her life.

She will be starting all over again – she will have to find new work, will stay in a new home, will have to embrace a new community, a new culture and take comfort in a new way of living.

Her emotions have been skyrocketing. There have been uncertainty, self-doubt, and even anger and a bit of depression. She was anxious. She was in fear.

The common advice to such experience is that everything will be fine; that what we need is to trust that things will fall into place. I am guilty of such sweeping statements.

But to say that to a person who is scared might not be the best prescription at the moment. To ask that person to be brave and take on courage might be too dismissive of what one is experiencing.

Moreover, I think what we need to do first is to acknowledge the fear that is upon the person.

Recognizing fear is to admitting that we are weak and vulnerable; fear entails losing control, especially of our own future. Such experience is discomforting and powerful that we tend to run away from the feeling and immediately gather strength.

There’s nothing wrong with being strong-willed; it is even laudable and inspiring to be dauntless and resolute.

However, I think that to deprive us of the experience of fear is a form of disservice to ourselves. To experience fear is to be human. To be afraid is to affirm our nothingness – that life is not just about us.

To be in terror is to concede that there is someone (or something) greater than us, perhaps God, Allah, the universe, or fate.

Our experience of unrest is grace. It is a gift where we accept our limitedness as beings.

We fear because we love.

For my friend, she is in discontent because she doesn’t know what will happen to her family and friends when she leaves them, or to her organization when she retires.

What will happen to her in the new country? Will she experience affirmation, warmth and love in the new environment and the new community she will be in?

Possibly, the invitation for us is to appreciate how fear is such a powerful human experience. From fear, we realize that we can only do so much, and that we hold on to hope and faith for a better future for ourselves and for others.

It is in the experience of fear that we rediscover our capacity to love, that despite the ambivalence, we know that we will continue to choose to love.

18 May 2015 | Pasay, the Philippines

Photo Source:×310.jpg


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