Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Within Fear's Grasp

Psalm 56:3-4

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Fear's fingers emit a chill that reaches us before that first touch.  Crawling within our belly to squeeze and stir our innards, fostering that nervousness that makes us frantic.  Sliding into our mind to lock the doors upon our logic, our reason, to freeze us within our tracts, or, sometimes worse, to lead us to make detrimental decisions.

Fear is powerful and it can control us without us realizing.  Once in command of a situation, it is hard to disentangle from its cold claws.  Wanting to thrive and grow, fear works to expand its grasp--works to spread its seeds of dissension.  If left alone, unobserved and unhindered, fear can destroy everything; cause chaos.

This is one of the lessons and major themes that I saw within The Death Gate Cycle by Weis and Hickman (Click for my Review and comments), one upon which I have been reflecting upon over the last week or so.

Aung San Suu Kyi writes: "It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."  I think that this quotation speaks to the heart of the matter.  When  in control, it is not the power that necessarily leads to bad decisions, but the fear that someone else will take that power away--that we'll lose.  Even with the best intentions, fear can twist our actions for its own purpose.  We can become consumed by that fear and spiral into chaos if we leave it unhindered.

In The Death Gate Cycle, both the Sartans and the Patryns are ruled by fear at different times, and they don't always realize it.  The Sartans fear that the Patryns will overpower them and so decide to confine them to the Labyrinth and Sunder the world into four new worlds.  They want to remain in control, and in part, they do hope for the best and believe that they will do what's right, but that control leads to death for many people.

Likewise, the mensch (humans, elves and dwarves) show actions led by fear.  To decide to have your "son" assassinated (see Dragon Wing, book 1 and The Hand of Chaos, book 5); to organize a monopoly on the water supply (thus enslaving the other races, again both Dragon Wing and The Hand of Chaos touch on this); to raise and then enslave the dead (Fire Sea, book 3)... these decisions are all touched with fear.  Fear for control--over others and over the unknown.

"You are the one giving fear a leg to stand on." -Dodinsky

The thing about fear is that it only has as much control or strength as we give it.  When faced with a decision, we can choose to stand up for what is right, what makes sense, what helps the most, or we can give into fear and let it lead us down a strangled path.  It's a decision to choose courage.  Sometimes that courage means speaking up and acting, while at other times it may mean letting go and doing nothing.

For me, that courage comes from knowing who I am: a child of the living God.  Even when I find myself feeling lost and overwhelmed, I can find strength in knowing that God loves and cares for me.  No matter the circumstances, no matter the trials and tribulations I may face, I can stand firm because I know He is and will always be there.

I can stand firm within Fear's grasp.

Psalm 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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