My desire is to live in freedom, and at the beginning of Lent, I prayed for the grace to face the fears that keep me unfree.
Ironically, from the outside, I don’t look scared at all. In fact, many people have told me how much they admire my courage because of the risks I have taken. I have done lots of things other people fear—like moving to places where I knew no one, travelling alone internationally, visiting people in prison, living in l’Arche and taking in a sick friend so he could die the way he wanted.
I could take those risks because they posed little possibility of rejection.
But, telling someone who I am and how God has touched my life—that scares me. I fear being asked, “Who are you that God chose you?” I am an unlikely candidate for God’s abundant graces. I don’t know why God chose me, but I do know that God lifted me from a dark place and drew me into safety and that God desires for me to know myself as His beloved.
I also know that I want to live in the freedom God offers me when I let go of my fears and move against my resistance.
My deepest fear is of being rejected. It is well-entrenched, and I have been working to uproot it for a long time.
Over the years, I seem to have developed a sixth sense for the potential of rejection. I have also developed evasive maneuvers to avoid situations where I might be rejected. “I don’t usually do that,” is a stalling tactic I employ when asked to participate in something I sense has the potential for rejection.
This resistance is interwoven so deeply in my life that I am often unaware I am being resistant. Generally, some outside force is needed to clue me in. Usually, it is something out of the ordinary—some unknown person speaking to me or some writing I would not normally see coming across my desk, something that causes an “aha” moment.
Before Lent, my church publicized an upcoming Lenten program—six weeks of small-group faith-sharing. I read the bulletin notices and heard the pastor encourage participation, but I did not consider signing up. I don’t usually go to these types of programs, because I am uncomfortable sharing. Uncomfortable here is another word for scared. My experience of sharing my faith in parish settings has sometimes left me feeling different or odd—rejected.
On the Sunday that people were signing up for this program, a man I did not know said to me, “You should come to this.” I told him I would check my calendar, another avoidance technique. I really had no intention of checking my calendar because I did not intend to go. But then it occurred to me that I was being resistant, and I recognized in his invitation an invitation to face my fears and move against my resistance.
I participated in the Lenten program. Rejection? None. Freedom? Plenty.