I was moved by the recent film, "I'm Not Scared." It reminds me of the power of childlike innocence and love that is so unselfish, so pure, that it says to fear: "Move over, I'm not listening to you; I have more important things to do."
That's the message I kept getting from the film as 10-year-old Michele wholeheartedly devotes himself to taking care of his new friend Filippo.
The story is set in rural southern Italy in the 1970's, when a rash of kidnappings terrorized the country. Michele, out playing, discovers a hole in the yard of an abandoned house. He lifts the metal cover and peers into the hole, where he finds a 9-year-old boy who has been kidnapped.
At first, Michele is afraid. Then, overcoming his initial fear, he sneaks food to Filippo; takes him out of the hole to run around and play in the beautiful, rolling wheat fields; and almost sacrifices his life to protect his new friend.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, director Gabriele Salvatores captures the meaning of his movie this way: " 'I'm Not Scared' doesn't mean I'm a hero, it means I don't accept the fear you're trying to place on me.... A black void that could be scary can lead to the discovery of a small treasure, a new friend, somebody to take care of. This is the most important thing in life, to understand that we're not the only protagonists" (April 18).
To me, "I'm not the only protagonist" means that there are many others to care about if I'm willing to embrace more of the unselfed love Michele expressed. God, Love, loves me with a love that is so tangible, so real that it makes me want to love others more and focus less on myself. It's God that made me and put this love in my heart. This is true for everyone.
The more we love, the less afraid we are. The Bible says: "Love contains no fear - indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear" (I John 4:18, J.B. Phillips). And Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote: "Self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 15).
The Bible is full of examples of how selfless love blesses others while protecting and empowering the giver. For instance, David, a young shepherd boy, volunteers to fight the giant Goliath, a mighty warrior of the Philistine army, after he challenges the armies of Israel. The Bible says, "When Saul [the king of Israel] and his troops heard the Philistine's challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope."
But David says, "Don't give up hope. I'm ready to go and fight this Philistine" (I Sam. 17:11, 32). "The Message," Eugene Peterson). Instead of being afraid, David is confident, because he has already trusted in God to help him in his work as a shepherd protecting the sheep. Instead of armor and swords, he chooses a slingshot and five smooth stones. He runs toward Goliath and defeats him with one stone.
Turning to God's love takes away fear and gives us the ability to care about others even when we are struggling ourselves. For example, several years ago I was battling a respiratory illness when someone called me as a Christian Science practitioner to pray for her because she had the flu. At first I felt afraid to help someone else because I wasn't doing well myself. But a voice within said that I had something to give and shouldn't let the fear stop me. So I listened to that intuition and conscientiously prayed for this woman.
She was healed the next day. During my struggle this healing served as a sweet promise for my own freedom. I faced intense battles with pain, but what stands out to me is how deeply I felt God's love rather than fear. And I found healing within a short time.
Jesus said to his disciples: "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:12, 13).
We may not be asked to do anything as extreme as laying down our life for another, but thinking a little bit less of ourselves and a little more about another can rock the world as well as dissolve our own fears.
The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?