Faith without Fear
If you're looking for an article about how to overcome fear and not deal with it, you're in the wrong place.
If you want to learn about how to deal with your shit and lean into it, keep reading.
Over the years, I have heard countless one-liners that I couldn’t disagree with more.
“Faith and fear can’t live in the same house.”
“If you’re going to pray, why worry – and if you’re going to worry, why pray?”
So I am going to explain why I wholeheartedly disagree with these statements.
First of all, you don’t have to believe in God or a higher power to get anything out of this post. If you’re already thinking “oh wow I didn’t know Hannah was into all that God-stuff,” that’s okay! I’m not quite sure what I believe in, but I’m at a point in my life where I realize that I can’t “play God” and control everything in my life.
I can’t actually control anything except how I choose to respond to my thoughts, feelings, other people, experiences, and external circumstances.
So, bear with me.
Faith and fear can absolutely live in the same house.
As human beings, we are wired on a neurological level to experience fear. If we didn’t have fear, our ancestors would have died at the paws of giant cave-dwelling beasts.
Like Bigfoot. Or rabid squirrels?
What I’m trying to say is this:
Fear is a primal instinct that has served human beings for as long as we have existed. Fear is essential; it is vital to survive. But as anxiety-prone, catastrophizing beings, we have taken fear to the next level.
We spend so much of our lives in anticipatory anxiety – exhausting all of our limited energy ruminating on and obsessing about something that hasn’t happened yet, and may never happen.
We live in the “what-if’s.”
We rob ourselves of the present moment by anticipating the next.
So what do we do? How do we fix it? What is the solution?
I say this in almost every post I write, but I can’t stress it enough:
We have to go through what we go through. There is no way around it.
Be it resentment, fear, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, pain, and so on.
Acknowledge the fear. Embrace it. And cultivate faith.
In sequential order: we can't just jump to "dealing" with our fear. My late sponsor Scottee, may he rest in peace, used to always say - "we have to feel, deal heal. In that order."
Scottee taught me such a valuable lesson; We can't deal with our issues, emotions, or conflicts until we actually allow ourselves to feel them first. It sounds simple, but you'd be amazed at how quickly to jump to attempting to "fix" our discomfort.
If you want to read more about Scottee's incredible impact, click here.
So first, we acknowledge the feeling, Where is the fear coming from? Is it realistic, or is it a made up scenario in our head that likely won't come into fruition? We we living in reality or in the assumptions that engaged with long enough to the point of constructing our own fictitious reality?
Second, we embrace it. Lean in.
For the record, this will seldom be done with grace and poise. Sometimes this looks like crying, yelling, being curled up in the fetal position on the floor, and so on. We aren't supposed to be perfectly composed at all times. And take it from me, you absolutely will not be perfectly composed if you're truly leaning in.
While leaning in, talk to people! Invite trusted loved ones to be a part of your process. We can rarely get through pain and discomfort in a vacuum. Fear, shame, addiction, and other painful experiences can seldom exist long-term when combated with genuine connection. Stop trying to do it alone!
And lastly, pull on whatever deep sense of faith and trust you may have inside you.
Whatever you have faith in, let it be something outside of yourself.
I personally choose to believe in the universe – to believe that there exists among us energy and processes which are at work. I choose to believe that these processes are so much larger than me, leading me to a place of total surrender: I’ve let go of trying to figure out what’s “out there.”
What a relief!
I don’t actually need to know what I believe in. In fact, there is no amount of searching and researching that would lead me a place of total “knowing.”
But if I take an objective look at my life, I have always landed on my feet.
In 2015, I ended a significant relationship, quit my job with nothing lined up, and felt as though I was free falling. I didn’t understand how I could have faith in anything when I didn’t know what my life was going to look like.
All of my plans and designs were thrown out the window (due to my own self-sabotage) and I couldn’t imagine what would come next.
This excruciating pain led me to start writing. It led me to start speaking from the heart.
I was approached at a 12-step meeting and encouraged to apply for the job I have now.
I have been at this job for over 3 years now.
It led me to move to a new town and make deeper connections than I had ever experienced.
It is only in hindsight that I am able to look back on that time, a time which felt like total pain and darkness, and feel beyond grateful for the way things panned out.
This year, walking through a breakup was infinitely easier than the first time I experienced it in my sobriety. I still felt pain, a lot of it, but the faith-muscle inside of me had grown significantly.
I have had absolutely no doubt that things are panning out as they are supposed to, as long as I continue to trust my gut and do the next right thing, whatever that may be.
Sometimes the next right thing is the opposite of what I want to do.
But it always works out. Always.
True faith, in my opinion, is feeling your fear and walking through it anyway.
Walking through it and trusting that you are going to be okay.
That your pain won’t kill you.
That you have an unlimited amount of strength inside you that only has the chance to be drawn upon when you are walking through adversity.
We brush off vulnerability as weakness far too often.
As Dr. Brene Brown says, we don’t actually have the opportunity to practice courage unless we are in a situation that requires us to be vulnerable.
If we felt fine all of the time, never experienced fear or pain, where would our opportunities to practice strength, courage, resilience, and bravery come from?
Faith can only exist with fear.
Courage can only exist with vulnerability.
Vulnerability, in essence, is the willingness to show up and be seen when we don’t know the outcome.
Welcome to the arena.