Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Loss of Fear

Growing up in a Russian orthodox household meant there was holy water in the cabinet, a prominent painting of the last supper in the dining room, and a somber picture of Jesus in my grandmother's bedroom that was supposed to be uplifting and calming, I'm sure, but never failed to freak me out.

I didn't realize it at the time, but it also meant that I was afraid of many things: the devil, ghosts, the dark, and almost anything you could think of that was considered "supernatural".

I also had a thing about eyes--if they weren't your basic blue or brown they also freaked me out. The thought of looking out the window at night to see a pair of glowing amber eyes was almost too much to bear, but that is another post: Click here for more about EYES

Needless to say everyone went to church on Sunday, but I protested too much after about the age of ten. My fussing got old and it wasn't worth it for the rest of the worshipers, and I got to stay home. I bounced back and forth from being a lukewarm believer, to an atheist.

Studying religions was my attempt at finding meaning, and I did learn quite a bit about Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, and many more, but the only thing I truly gleaned from the endless studying was a bit of self-discovery.

I did not believe in the God of the bible.

Yet, like so many, the things we learn when we are young are difficult to unlearn. I realized I was still afraid to "sin", so I would occasionally attempt another shot at church or bible study. My husband is Catholic, and I always ended up in the Catholic church by default. Although the masses always left me cold, for me it was deeper. There was some kind of disconnect, and after reading the bible, really reading, not listening to what someone else said about it, I knew I not only disbelieved in the god of the bible--I did not like the premise.

I'm not going to get into the whole thing here, but when I finally let it go, when I really allowed myself to not be afraid a giant holy ghost was going to strike me dead and send me to hell for saying the lords name in vain too many times, I lost my fears.

I no longer had the feeling that a malignant force was ready to get me, I was no longer worried that the devil had me in his sights and had dark and dismal plans for my soul, and I no longer believed some bigger force in general was the ruler of my destiny. And most of all, I was no longer afraid of myself  for trying to worship a god who gave over his own son, for people he created, then destroyed, twice...but I digress.

A few nights ago I woke at 3 am. I checked the laundry downstairs and shut the lights off in the hall. I realized, ridiculously enough, that up until about a year ago this would have bothered me.

My long winded point is this--when we stop doing the things that make us afraid of ourselves, we stop being afraid of everything else, too.



  1. Hello! Thank you for sharing such a personal journey, especially one that deals with your very soul. That takes bravery.

    My experience is almost the mirror image of yours - reversed in almost every way. I was raised in a home that was staunchly, if not vehemently, anti-religious. My father was a lapsed Catholic, and proclaimed agnostic. My mother? I'm not sure. I think she believed. She was raised Baptist (I think?). Once, when my father was deployed for a long stretch, she took my sister and I to church, and that was the only time I went to bible study. Then dad came back, and there was no more church. I went to college a hardened atheist.

    Last year, I had an experience that I can only call a spiritual awakening. It was very painful because my brain was not willing to give up the atheism - or my self-proclaimed status as a non-practicing Buddhist. Yet... and I won't try and convince you (or anyone else)... I felt what I can only call the Holy Spirit. I began, for the first time, to read about Christianity. And I felt that I had been given the grace for which Christ died. It's a horrible mythology in a lot of ways, and my mind still struggles with almost everything in the Bible! Yet, I'm a believer.

    When that happened, for the first time I realized I wasn't afraid. Like you, I realized I could turn off the lights and not be terrified. I could breathe freely.

    I suspect we've both encountered the same eternal truth, the same underlying spirit, but our minds (which are only human and mine, at least, is very limited!) are having trouble giving human names to something so all-encompassing.

    I am glad you have found your way out of fear.


    1. Fascinating!!
      I want sooo bad to hear your story now--I want to hear about the experience. I hope you write about it soon.


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