Nothing to fear – including fear itself!
A Christian Science perspective: On handling fear outside of Halloween fright.
Bright yellow and gold leaves have appeared on the trees, days and nights have gotten noticeably cooler, and all sorts of Halloween decorations have popped up in my neighborhood. This time of year, at least in the United States, brings out a fascination with pretend frights and fears. From costumed trick-or-treaters, to carved jack-ó-lanterns grinning from porch steps, it’s all in good fun.
But what about fear that isn’t about Halloween? The kind that isn’t so fun?
I was recently reminded of a famous quote in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address. “...let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Of course, Roosevelt was commenting on the issues of his day, but his thoughts on fear still apply today: More threatening than things such as frightening financial fears, harrowing health scares, or other startling situations, is the fear that paralyzes rational thinking, stops us in our tracks, or even causes us to go backward.
We probably have all had moments where an alarming situation wanted to rule the day. But no matter what form fear takes – whether it’s outright panic or just a bit of worry – fear can be overcome through a deeper understanding of God as Love. That may sound like a radical statement, but there is biblical authority for this fact.
In John’s first epistle we read, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment” (I John 4:18). Perfect love is God – divine Love itself.
The teachings of Christian Science take John’s epistle to heart and prove, in the words of Christian Science Discoverer Mary Baker Eddy, that “the depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 520).
Since divine Love’s nature is completely good, all powerful, and fills all space, it follows that the reason Love casts out fear is that it precludes the very existence of anything to fear. Where infinite Love is, there is no room for what Love isn’t. Since Love is in every place, fear has no place to be. With this authority we can confront our fears to gain a sense of calm in order to move forward.
Mrs. Eddy writes: “What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 307).
I had an opportunity to prove the “peace, be still” of human fears in a small way several years ago when I was called to assist with a family emergency in another state. I was feeling trepidation about the trip and what I might encounter at the end of it. While driving along the interstate, I hit the storm of all storms. The ferocious wind blasting the side of my car, the pelting rain pouring down in sheets, the thunder booming, and the lightning flashing all mirrored my unsettled and frightened thoughts. Should I keep going, or stop and go back?
As I prayed earnestly about what to do, I gained a calm assurance. I was knowing the powerful, spiritual fact that fear had no place in the allness of divine Love, and I realized that fear had no place in my life, or in the lives of my family members. I understood that divine Love itself was right there with me, and also present with my relatives who would be there at the other end of the trip.
That helped me feel the courage to face the storm – literally and figuratively. As much as it raged, I was able to carefully and wisely make progress. I overcame the fear, passed peacefully through the storm, and arrived safely at my destination to find those gathered there in good spirits. Within a few short days, everything was well with my relative.
Whether you participate in the festivities and feigned fears of Halloween or not, you can take a stand against fearfulness. God, divine Love, already fills all space. And you can prove the ability of Love to remove those fears, just as I did!