In the book of Exodus, God unleashed a series of horrific plagues against Egypt to liberate the ancient Israelites from slavery.  Then He enabled Moses to part the Sea of Reeds, to help them avoid recapture by Pharaoh’s army.

But even after witnessing these extraordinary miracles delivered on their behalf, the Israelites worried about their survival in the desert.  Would there be food to eat and water to drink?  Would they succumb to opposing tribes and nations?  Despite God’s clear commitment to their physical and spiritual welfare, the Israelites were concerned He would let them perish in the wilderness. They questioned the wisdom of God’s plan to release them from bondage and bring them into the desert.  Perhaps it was a tragic mistake. 

The ancient Israelites were not “stiff-necked”, meaning arrogant or defiant. They were simply being human, easily overwhelmed by fear.  The Israelites were an ordinary people making an extraordinary journey.  

Their story remains our story.  Their journey through the wilderness is our journey too.  Consider how much of our lives remains governed by fear.  The coronavirus pandemic sent the entire world into exile from our pre-Covid existence. It compelled us to traverse uncharted waters negotiating a profound fear of illness and death, 

But even before the pandemic, we wrestled with considerable fear.  The fear of making changes in our lives.  The fear of remaining where we are.  The fear of being unloved and alone.  The fear of being loved and seen for who we are.  The fear of failure.  The fear of success.  The fear of death and dying.  The fear of experiencing too much aliveness. The fear of those whose skin color, religious beliefs, sexual practices, and political allegiances differ from our own. 

If much of our lives remains governed by fear, what is the antidote?  How do we move through fear?  Someone once said:  tell me what you are afraid of, and I’ll tell you what already happened in your life.  Wise words indeed.  The fear of being unloved reflects experiences of being unloved. The fear of failure reflects experiences of perceived failure. Acknowledging and working through feelings associated with difficult and painful life experience, enables us to diminish the power of fear in our lives.  And as we engage in conversations about fear, we become more confident.  And we develop empathy and compassion towards ourselves and others, because we know the formidable challenge of wrestling with fear.

How do you journey through life in a psychological and spiritual wilderness shaped by fear? What conversations are you willing to engage in to diminish the power of fear in your life?

Categories: This Ordinary Life

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Neal Aponte

Neal Aponte is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience providing psychotherapy for adults, adolescents and children. Read more here.