I am part of a recovering from Mormonism support group. It is an interesting bunch of people and sometime it is profound. I am copying and pasting an email "Chad" sent to the group. This one really touched me and made me think.
One thing that I have always felt to be important was to live life deliberately and passionately. I love Thoreau's Walden where he talks about living a deliberate life and not coming to the end of one's life only to discover that one had never truly lived. (Obviously, he said it much more eloquently.)
So when I read this I again had to pause and think - where am I now? Am I living a deliberate life of my own choosing and passion? Happily the answer is yes! I am. I am as happy as I have ever been. I love my little family and my dear friends. I have a job that I love with people that I really enjoy being around. I have a comfortable warm home with good food to eat and comfy clothes to wear. Are there daily frustrations and irritations - certainly - DC traffic alone is enough to make my hair turn grey; but overall this is the life I have chosen and I am happy with my choices.
And now for the bit that inspired my thinking...
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of
love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
While serving my time for Mormonism as a missionary in Germany, I
would often spend a little time each day reading through the Luther
Bible in an attempt to understand the role of Christ and his
mission, not to mention reading the most correct translation of the
New Testament according to Joseph Smith. On one such occasion, I
came across a passage in 2 Timothy where Paul gives encouragement
and hope to the beleaguered Timothy. Paul's words gave me comfort
with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance.
As I read the words, I saw that fear was not from God, yet as I
examined my missionary experiences, I saw that fear was always
present. The missionary program was fear based. My temple experience
and requirement to keep my temple covenants at all costs was driven
by fear. My experiences with mission authority were fear based. My
personal life, filled with regret and remorse for not doing and
being enough was fear based. Yet as quickly as I discovered that my
life was riddled with fear, my fear caused me to bury it deep down
inside of me again and ignore it as I had always done.
As I made my way out of Mormonism, I saw my old nemesis was always
present. I was afraid to see, I was afraid to investigate, I was
afraid of what my family and friends would do and think, and in some
ways I was afraid of myself.
I have not yet transcended fear in my life, but I do confront it
frequently, removing its power and hold over my mind and heart. For
those who still struggle on their road of discovery and self-
acceptance, distance yourself from the fear which holds you back.
Turn to friends and loved ones for strength and support if possible,
but move forward, removing more and more fear as you go. Once the
source of fear has been removed and the distance grows between you,
fear diminishes and its power lost.
One of my favorite films is Defending Your Life, written and
directed by another of my favorites, Albert Brooks. In this film,
we see the main character Daniel in his sojourn into the afterlife,
wherein he is required to make an accounting of sorts for his life's
experiences and decisions. The thrust of the defense is not based on
good or evil, but on how well he confronted his fears in life.
Failure to prove that he had conquered fear during his life would
require that he return to earth to repeat his earthly experiences
until he mastered his fears and could then be permitted to move on.
Without spoiling the film for those who have not seen it, suffice it
to say that Daniel eventually conquers his fears through love and is
permitted to move on to bigger and better things.
Just as Daniel used the power of love to conquer his fears which
held him back, we too must love ourselves enough to stare our demons
in the face and remove their power over us. There is life after the
fear. There is understanding, self-acceptance and love after the
fear. There will still be trouble, heartache, misery and challenge,
but there will be less fear in our lives giving us more strength to
face whatever life throws our way.
Face the fear.
Thanks Chad for the great thoughts!