Fear is powerful. It can move people to heroic acts of survival; it can leave others to cower in terror; it can bring out the best and the worst in us.
Fear of the unknown is strong. It can stop us dead in our tracks, preventing us from doing the things we need to do to build a better life for ourselves. It can fill us with doubt, making us put our trust in the unreasonable instead of in those we love. It can suck the confidence and energy and life out of us, leaving us to simply stop.
But fear can be helpful, too. It can give us the inner strength to overcome our doubts and our pains and our confusion — and to act.
For those who have lived a life filled with darkness and pain, fear of the light is natural. There is a sense that, being on the verge of something better, they are not worthy of the light. Not worthy of love. That they are bad people, who’ve done bad things, and don’t deserve anything other than the pain and the sorrow that has filled their lives.
And the temptation, then, is to sleep with the devil they know, instead of risking a walk with the angels they can’t yet see. Even though they hate the devil, they know him and are comfortable with his sufferings. But the angel? He is unknown — and even though he might be better, our shame at living in darkness is strong enough to make us refuse to step into the light.
The challenge is simple.
Does a person in pain, who wants something better, reach for it? Or does he find reasons to remain in the shadows, wanting to reach out but hoping the angel will pass him by?
This is not about being worthy or unworthy. This is about choice. A choice to live a better life, to demand respect and wholeness.
There are several people in my life right now who are facing this choice. I pray that they choose carefully.