Yesterday was probably one of the first days in a while I’ve actually feared going to work. On most days, I don’t fear my being able to complete the tasks I need to in order to do my job or fear working with the kids. But, as I’ve noticed, there is a very real risk in working in detention (regardless of whether they are juveniles or not). My co-workers have had their thumbs dislocated, sent to the hospital from being hit in the nose, bitten, bruised, black eye’d…etc. The messy parts of my job are especially messy…and while these days are few and far between (thank GOD), sometimes the idea of getting hit, or worse, scare the hell out of me. What do we do when we’re fearful or scared? Where is our identity when we’re fearful?
When we are fearful, we become slaves to the thing that we are fearful of. We become entrapped by the ‘what if’ possibilities that we are now paralyzed to do what we are called to do. Take a walk with me back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. Most Bibles sill have the chapter titled “The Fall” or “The First/Original Sin”. The first two chapters of Genesis are about God creating (people, places, things, stars, etc.) and in doing that, gives Adam and Eve one stipulation: to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the next chapter, the serpent convinces the couple to eat of the tree that they’re not supposed to.
Once they’ve eaten the fruit, the couple realized they’re naked so they “sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves” and because they were naked, when God calls out to the couple, they hide fearful of the repercussions of their actions. In their fearfulness, Adam blames Eve for eating the fruit, who in return blames the serpent. The fear of the consequences of their actions caused Adam and Eve to argue their innocence before God. When we’re fearful instead of faithful, we become entrapped by the ‘what ifs’ and we become paralyzed, unable to do what we are called to do. Instead of being together and tending the Garden, Adam and Eve became fearful of being naked around each other and fearful of the God who created them. When they heard God walking in the Garden, they hid among the trees and the shrubs–paralyzed by the ‘what if God sees that we disobeyed Him’? They became slaves to the thing they were fearful of: being separated, alone, from God. And this breaks God’s heart. God’s desire for creation is seen in the question asked to Adam: “Where are you?”. God wants us to be connected to Him. God wants us to be with Him. God wants us to want Him. Yet we let our fears get in the way of the goodness that is a relationship with God. We allow ourselves to become paralyzed by ‘what ifs’ and run from God, which is the opposite thing we should do! When we’re fearful, why do we run to things that can’t help us? We’re fearful of emotional intimacy so we close ourselves off from others. We’re fearful of moving to a new place so we convince ourselves we’ll never get that new job. We’re fearful of being rejected by peers, so we run to buy the newest iPhone or sneakers in hopes that these ‘things’ will make us more likeable. Why don’t we run to God instead? When we’re fearful of anything, we should run to God and claim an identity that isn’t rooted in fear but rooted in the thought that the Creator cares so much about the creation, that even though we’re damaged, we’re still masterpieces to Him.
Fear leads to paralysis and it leads to separation. God doesn’t want that from you, God doesn’t want that from me, God doesn’t want that from anyone. Perhaps this was written as a reminder for myself that I walk with the “I am” of creation who is constantly reminding me, “I am in front of you, behind you, beside you, within you”. We need not to be fearful because the God who created all things holds dominion over all things, has defeated all things. I go into work at 3pm today and as I sit in my car in the parking lot before I unlock the door to go in, I will do what I always do: pray for protection for the clients and for the staff because I refuse to allow fear to dictate my life anymore.
Will, you join me?*
*not sure where to start/new with prayer? Clicking here will take you to one of my favorite prayers (St. Patrick’s Breastplate).