Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Fear and Following the Spirit

In the 2009 Nov Ensign, Elder Scott declares that you can not feel the direction of the Holy Spirit while simultaneously feeling anger, hate, fear, or pride. He described it the same as trying to eat a grape and a jalapeno pepper together while attempting to discern both flavors.

The anger, hate and pride part make perfect sense to me. But fear? In the "scary" world in which we live today many of us, yours truly included, do a lot of things based on fear. For example, I drive Anson to scouts every Wednesday even though it's only 2 blocks from my house because going to scouts would require that he cross a relatively busy street at dusk.

As an avid consumer of news I can tell you that studies show that dusk and dawn are the two times of day in which pedestrian/auto accidents are most common. I can also tell you that one of the leading causes of death to 8-11-year-olds is accidents involving cars. So, once a week, I drive Anson to cub scouts out of fear.

But I think it is possible for many good Christian people to get fear and revelation mixed up. We think, I'm afraid to move, or I'm afraid to travel and we misinterpret that as inspiration. It comes out as--oh, God doesn't want me to (move, go on the trip, etc.) so he is making me feel fear.

But fear and faith can not exist in the same space. I remember reading an article where the author, illustrated this point with a story. A very nice and loving couple were parents of a daughter who was an alcoholic. She desperately needed intervention, but would be angry when those who loved her most defied her wishes to save her life. Because of the fear of that anger, this family froze and for a long time did nothing. Finally, with counseling, the parents realized that they must act out of love rather than wait out of fear.

My grandma illustrated this point perfectly in her monthly email to the family. She wrote that she was nervous about a trip my uncle had planned in the Alaskan wilderness. For a week he would be away from all contact to the outside world, flown in by "bush pilots" in a little plane.

He left on the trip and Grandma continued to panic and worry. She worried that the plane would crash and she worried it would snow and they would be stuck. She fussed and she worried. She spent some time on the phone with her sister, who had lived in Alaska for 15 years, and she worked to calm Grandma and reassure her that everything would be alright. At the appointed time, my uncle emerged from the wilderness safe and happy. He had had the trip of his life and all Grandma's worrying was for naught.

After the whole ordeal was over Grandma wrote us to say that she learned "to feel the peace the Savior can send you when you are worried." But perhaps the greatest revelation of all is in her next sentence. "Each day as I prayed I did feel comfort and peace, but you know how Satan can put thoughts into your mind to make you worry."

Grandma hit the nail on the head. It is Satan who makes us worry and the Spirit who makes us feel peace. If Satan can but sidetrack us with worry so that we can not function--read our scriptures, do our callings, be a happy and pleasant member of the family--then he's winning. And we can not feel the whispering of the Spirit when our heart is gripped with fear.


HARA said...

This is very interesting to me, you don't have to publish it...so with Grandma's wisdom, do you keep taking Anson to scouts or do you pull back and let him walk at dusk? I would be inclined to keep on driving him. This is a conversation that may require a walk. Shahara

Kari said...

This is an interesting post because I've been thinking a lot about this and having children lately. (I have baby on the brain, can you tell?) I have faith that I should have another child and it will be healthy, but...what if it's not. What if I have a child that has some problem? I feel I am nervous and that this isn't going with the whole faith thing, but I'm not sure how to change it. I think the fact I've been sick for five freaking months isn't helping. Sorry, I bordering on TMI. I do that. lol You apparently struck a nerve with me. :)

Sandy White said...

Wow, what a great blog entry. Thanks so much for writing that. I struggle a lot with that in my life...letting fear dictate my decisions. I am going to have to look up that talk. However, regarding what you said about driving Anson to cub scouts...I think that is just being careful, not letting fear dictate a decision.

Nancy said...

Thank you! I've struggle a lot with avoiding things because I'm scared, and yet, when I do what is needed (although scary), I find that the spirit is so closely with me, and comforting me all the way.