7 days 7 small ways...
  1. Take your shoes off...slowly wiggle your toes a few times.
  2. Breathe...deeply....consciously.
  3. Tug gently at your earlobe.
  4. Smile.
  5. Look for three good things in the moment.
  6. Use a good word...they have great power.
  7. Make the effort to like what your doing...you can't always do what you like.

 

Monday
Apr152019

Fear FULL? Faith FULL? What are you full of?

"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" (Mark 4:37-40)

Jesus Christ was asleep on a pillow in the hinder part of the ship during the storm which his disciples feared would end their lives. He had entered the ship after what had to have been an exhausting several days. Perhaps, that very storm had rocked him to sleep.  The storm for him was not an issue.  He was at peace on that pillow.  Ultimately, He was the source of Peace for everyone on that Sea. After "Peace Be Still" and the resulting "Great Calm" Jesus followed up with two questions:

"Why are ye so fearful?"

"How is it that ye have no faith?"

It is easy for one to consider these questions rhetorical. Perhaps even an observation of evident weakness.  What if they were not? What if He was actually opening a conversation? A conversation which would decrease fear and increase faith for those willing to consider their own answers.

Christian religions are not the only ones which speak to fear and faith.  And Faith is not allocated only to Deity.  It requires Faith to believe that the uphill climbs in our lives end at a peak worth the effort when you cannot even see a clear path ahead of you.

I have been contemplating Faith and Fear this year. With these two words on my mind I see lessons in all my reading, interactions,  times of self reflection, and even the movies I have been watching.  The interaction of these forces are an integral part of life. Specifically, I have been considering being Faith Full and/or Fear Full.  I have found it helpful to consider a gas gauge, only instead of Empty and Full it reads Fear on one side and on the other Faith.  In my life if the gauge is too far to the Fear Full side I simply cannot move forward. I actually stop.  Forward momentum can only happen when the gauge is leaning towards the Faith Full side.

Faith in one's self.  Faith in our children.  Faith in friends and family.  Faith in community. Faith that the sun will shine in the Pacific N.W. (It is Springtime after all).  Faith in healthy living. Faith in the power of Nature. (For me, that means Faith in a hike, kayak, walk, and getting my hands in the dirt while gardening.) Faith in a Higher Power. (For me, that means Faith in Jesus Christ.)  Faith our efforts at life's up hill climbs each day are at a minimum heading towards our desired destination.  Faith applies to every good thing we rely on for strength on our most Fear Full days. 

Fear is powerful when the gauge tips towards Fear Full.  Fear we cannot withstand the "press" of life. Fear we simply are not "enough." Fear of the unknown beyond the next curve in life's road. Fear should be given due consideration when navigating life. Fear can be benefical...it makes us slow down and consider our next step. But a road sign that reads "Caution Watch for Falling Rocks" does not mean "Stop Here...Turn Back" or "Stop Here...Wait for Rock to End Your Misery." A pursuit of Peace requires facing Fears and moving forward in spite of them. 

From ancient texts to Kung Fu Panda, the quest to balance the Fear/Faith gauge is not new. 

On the Island of Kauai, there is a rock at Shipwreck Beach which has been the setting for many a movie cliff jumping scene.  It is a short walk from where we stay on the Island and is one of my favorite locations to watch the sunset.  Prior to sunset there is often a line of people waiting their turn to jump from it's heights into the sea below. I have watched several of my children stand on the edge contemplating their leap towards the deep blue waters. Some have jumped (many times) and for others (like myself) this   beautiful solid rock serves it purpose in their life as a sunset perch. The Rock for some a place where strength is gained for a literal leap and for others a place where strength is gained for those other leaps of Faith in life.

At times our Faith (or lack there of ) can be about something very specific and at other times we are unable to pin point why the our Faith gauge is tipping towards the Fear side of the tank. Sometimes you have to leap into the deep waters and swim and other times you simply must wait and watch.

In the movie Kung Fu Panda, the wise tortoise, Master Oogway, taught Kung Fu Panda, Po, that "today is a gift."  One of best ways I know of for tapping into Faith is recognizing this fact. Focussing on the present day at hand and looking for the good things within your immediate reach is fuel to the Faith tank. Panda Po spent a great deal of time expressing fear of external battles, when actually, his fear was an internal battle to be won.  The Faith he lacked was Faith in his own ability to become.

Writing down fears makes them much less scary. Writing down where or what your Faith is each day makes it much stronger. In this way you are following Master Oogway's advice and acknowledging each day as a gift. Write each question, "Where is your Faith?" and "Why are ye so fearful?"  at the top of a journal page. Write your answers each day for a week, and then a month, and then another...  This may seem too simple to some who read this. Simple does not equal easy.  It can be extremely hard to see where your Faith is in the midst of Fear's darkness.

You will find your efforts rewarded as your answers over time give witness to courage and strength when you thought you had none. When you see challenges which presented great fear leave you with a sense of empowerment and ability.  You will see miracles arise from the small daily efforts to overcome fear and exercise faith. Fear loves isolation that is where it can grow best.  Faith grows when it is tilled and cultivated. There is a reason it is called "exercising" faith.  This work is made easier with a work out partner or two. Share your fears. Have conversations about faith.

We are not alone on the seas of life. "Carest thou not that we perish?" Perhaps it is time you wake up a ship mate. You will awaken Peace in your own life as you respond to the questions which require you to reflect on your Fears and your Faith. It is o.k. to be afraid.  It is o.k. to talk about it.  Fear is not weakness.  We frequently exhibit our greatest courage utilizing faith despite real fear.  

 

What are you afraid of?

Each day IS a gift. Master Oogway never said each day is Peaceful.  But they can be just that...Peace FULL. 

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