Please Whisper in My Ear, That There is Nothing to Fear
“What is going to happen to me?”
“What should I do?”
So much human energy is spent towards trying to discern the future. Mrs. Maisel’s mother asks, “Will this separation end in divorce?” Pee-Wee asks, “Where can I find my bike?” My friend Nicole asks, “What will happen if I take this job?” I ask, “Should I marry this man? Will he break my heart?”
We live in fear of pain and suffering. So to be safe, we seek a sage or a psychic or our personal Gandalf. We seek the Word of God to whisper into our ears the way in which we should go. It’s the path that brings prosperity, success, and safety. It’s a path of money or love or affirmation. Though I do not know which path that is, surely someone does. Surely God does.
There is also the cultural trope of the magic book full of wisdom and spells. Most religions have sacred texts, and many spiritual seekers have identified books that open them to great insight. There is a book for every question. Questions like: How do I “unf*ck” myself? How do I have a 4-hour workweek? What incantation will awake my inner giant?
In my Christian tradition, we have a book that is supposed to be supremely special. The Bible makes the claim that it was written by humans hands, but inspired by God, and useful for “teaching, correcting, and training ones character.” It says this in one of Paul’s letters, towards the end, that reflecting on the content of the book will have a transforming effect on a person who belongs to God. This person becomes “equipped” to do “all that is good” or “every good work” (depending on your translation.) This makes it sound like the Bible might be a manual, or a book of rules, and that is how people often treat it, but it’s really not. Instead, it’s a book of stories. Even when there are rules (e.g. the 10 commandments), they are rules nested in stories, in the context of place, time, plot, and characters. At the core, each story is about God’s desire to be in a relationship with people. God asks this cast of characters for faith and trust.
So what does this have to do with our anxiety about decision-making and the future? Well, if I can only exist in the present with my friend or my lover, yet I’m spending most my brain-space conjuring scenarios of the future, I am not able to experience quality relationship. Can I instead muster faith, and allow that faith to convert to love, and let love inform wisdom about what choices to make? We can’t control the future, but we can work on our own hearts.
We all want a sign, but instead we get a story. The story is about love: love of God, love of others, love of enemies, loving sacrificially… And we “walk by faith, not by sight,” meaning we choose love-paved path in spite of how scary that can be. So tell your fear to shut the eff up for five minutes so you can get to loving better.
One addendum: this doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself. If you choose the bigwig job position, or spend money at the spa, that can be an investment in yourself so that you become a more abundant resource. Orient the decisions you make for yourself, around a position of care for your kin, the nearby stranger, and the world. Then go boldly.
Can you think of a time when the best and true course of action felt undeniably clear? Have you ever experienced God speaking directly to you?