Landisa: How the pastor's sermon about rejecting fear made me fear life

James de Villiers
James de Villiers

"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." - Matthew 6:34

When I was younger, my blue eyes staring at the pastor standing on top of the wooden pedestal, I never understood what it meant to not fear. 

In my primitive understanding, I believed it meant to not fear the devil because God is in control. "Do not fear death, because you'd go to heaven," I thought it meant.

But, at the same time, I was taught to fear the world. Fear alcohol because you will become enslaved; fear weed because you'd become addicted; and fear sin because you'll go to hell.

"Fear the kids standing on the corner smoking, because they will deceive you," my mother taught. 

There was, I learnt, good fear: fear that kept you away from evil and fear that kept you in the light.

And so, I spent most of my life isolating myself from that which I thought would take me off the small and narrow road to heaven. 

Isolation for the sake of self-preservation. Because God forbid I miss going to the promised land.

The past few weeks – some of the worst this year – I've started to question this fear I was taught.

This fear which kept me awake at night, stressing whether I've found my calling; obsessing whether the person I've just met might lead me astray. Perpetually afraid that I might miss the mark, that I'm not at the right place and not walking in God's glorious plan. That I'm not going to meet "the one" – the person I'd spent my life with.

I've learnt that the fear that the pastor on the wooden pedestal taught me kept me from living life. He taught me to fear making a mistake – sinning – when imperfection is one of humanity's definable characteristics. He taught me to fear living. 

I've started to question how much of life I've missed out living because I was too afraid of it? How many conversations with strangers have I missed because I thought they'd make me question my beliefs? And how many eye-opening experiences have I not dared to live because it wasn't completely in line with what God taught?

Surely this is not what God intended for humanity? 

Surely, He didn't imagine His children enslaved by their own fear of what the future might hold or that they don't have the answer?

Perhaps "do not fear" means to not fear making a mistake? Perhaps "do not fear" means to not worry if you're going the right way? To feel safe in confusion, when it feels like there's no way forward and no clear direction; when right and wrong becomes shades of grey? 

Today, I've decided – to quote the bible – to not fear about tomorrow. To not create demons out of things I've not yet experienced. I'm adopting a new approach where I'm allowing myself the space to make mistakes, and allowing myself the grace to forgive myself.

I'm okay with not knowing the answer; not knowing where I'm going. Because, at the end of the day, we simply do not know what will happen tomorrow.

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