For Lent, I am Giving Up Fear-Based Theology
Perfect love casts out fear—such an active verb phrase. One imagines a hefty seizing by the neck-scruff and an ignominious hurling out of a doorframe. (Anyone else picturing swinging saloon doors and a random horse tied to a nearby post?
No? That’s just me?
Damn, I brought my new boot-spurs for no reason.)
Surely we could have tried gentler measures. Subtle indicators, non-verbal suggestions. We could just angle our body away, not make eye contact. Doubtless this brawler will get the idea eventually and leave of his own accord. No need for us to actually set down the tankard, get up from our seat, and stride over, grim of purpose, to get a proverbial and literal handle on the situation.
I think it’s the way fear takes up the whole atmosphere of the room, honestly. How its voice bellows over the quieter conversations we’re trying to have, keeps us unable to focus on the expressions of the person sitting across from us, keeps our system on high alert. We can’t quite fully shake our shoulders loose with that guy crashing into bar stools and hurling epithets at innocent bystanders the way he does. Everything stays palpably tight. It’s hard to enjoy. It’s hard to release.
That’s why it calls for a casting out.
When I sit quiet today, listening for God, reaching into that ether, and imaging forth God’s reception of me—I’ll notice the fears that start to brawl, set a firm hand on their collars, and cast them out.
The fear of God as an angry tyrant—as a distant, heartless Judge—as a disappointed authority figure—as a distracted, neglectful caregiver—as a cosmic bureaucrat—all of these images, these Divine metaphors that haunt and torment, I will cast out today. I will know them as the imaginings of my scared child-self, who comes bewildered before the face of this unknown God, asking: Will you hear me? Will you see me? Will you love me? Do I belong with you, no matter what?
Today, I will see God in her warmth, in her softness and strength, taking me in her arms with glad abandon and answering, Yes, beloved. Yes. You belong here. You belong to Love. No matter what.Kay ben-Avraham tells stories. Her fantasy novel, The Flower of the Cedar, is available in podcast form at www.kaybenavraham.com. She also works as a freelance writer and editor at www.forwantofanail.net.