Posted by Sheryl Gervais
I was walking to school a few days ago and saw this wee blond lad, maybe three years old, in little red pea coat (double-breasted, of course and, oh gosh, I think he was wearing short pants too – total cuteness) meandering a ways behind his mom, mindlessly dragging his little hand on the still leafless, dry hedge planted along the sidewalk. His mom stopped, turned and very patiently asked him, “What are you doing Eli?” “I’m letting the stick scratch my skin.”
I’m letting the stick scratch my skin.
Wow! I got really excited and for the rest of my walk, I felt that little Eli had shared a simple truth that I was bursting to share. Little Eli, with his halo of blond curls was being present. That’s it. He was enjoying, exploring and experiencing his environment. Without fear. Without any preconceived idea of what should be. He was feeling. Maybe it wasn’t exactly pleasant: sticks scratching on skin can be itchy. Might cause a little broken skin. A little discomfort.
Experience life without fear of scratches. Sure. Why not ?
What is fear anyway? False Evidence Appearing Real. This acronym is not new. It’s pretty accurate though. There is no imminent threat or safety risk to me or to my loved ones, yet F.E.A.R. can provoke strong resistance to even positive experiences.
When we live in the shadow of F.E.A.R. our potential and promise are compromised.
When F.E.A.R. directs our actions we live in the grey. What are we afraid of? Oh, so many things for so many different reasons. Most of us are at some time in our lives afraid of not being good enough, rich enough, fit enough, smart enough. Just not enough. Period.
We fear truth, fear honesty and as a result, our perspectives become skewed to the point that so much around us feels threatening. F.E.A.R. can trick us into perceiving a threat where there may not be one.
If F.E.A.R. is guiding relationships, for example, other people can seem threatening to the security of the relationships. Our partner’s friends, neighbours, co-workers, hobbies, can seem like a threat because we see ourselves as unworthy. So we respond with jealousy, harsh behaviour that is from a place of F.E.A.R. instead of love. Instead of loving ourselves as much as we want the other to love us.
I’ve been there. Consumed by irrational F.E.A.R, without realising it, and in that shadow, I lost sight of the strong, confident, vibrant woman I know that I am. I became lost in the fog of fear.
And when we are lost, we become desperate and our actions are from a very peculiar, hard to figure out place.
F.E.A.R. is a tricky deal. It wants us to follow it and be its best friend. Not a good idea. The best way to fight it is to truly feel it. Feel it, embrace it. Then forgive it.
Recognise it – feel it – forgive it.
Let the stick scratch your skin.
Take your deep breath and recognise it. Then embrace it and forgive it. Forgiveness is a very powerful tool and everyone has it in them. F.E.A.R. is not a fan of forgiveness so it will fight it. But with every forgiveness moment, F.E.A.R. becomes weaker and our light becomes brighter.
Little Eli has it right. Let the stick scratch my skin. Sometimes life will give me stuff that hurts, but I won’t back away from it. Because, as Leonard Cohen writes,
Ring the bell that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
I want my heart to crack open with light. So, let the stick scratch my skin. Show me what you got, stick!
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, wracked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
- Agatha Christie