Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Stop listening to your fears." - St. Paul of the Cross

If there is one skill I learned growing up, it was to ignore my brother's pestering. Perhaps the most oft spoken phrase from my mother's mouth was, "Sarah, honey, just ignore him and he'll leave you alone."

If you grew up with a sibling (especially one close in age) you know what I'm talking about.

You draw the imaginary line down the back seat of the car so he'll stay on his side and you'll stay on your side only for him to inch closer and closer to the "line".

Your mother orders, "Don't touch your sister!" and so his finger hovers a centimeter from your arm like a mosquito ready to bite. You can't "tell on him" because technically he isn't touching you, but he is for sure torturing you.

Then your mother says again, “Sarah, honey, just ignore him and he’ll leave you alone.”

So I learned (as best I could) to ignore him. And you know what? He left me alone. (Well, that may have had more to do with maturity and time, but still, he stopped!)

I recently came across a quote from St. Paul of the Cross:

“Stop listening to your fears. God is your guide and your Father, Teacher and Spouse. Abandon yourself into the divine bosom of His most holy good pleasure. Keep up your spiritual exercises and be faithful in prayer.”

That first line struck me: “Stop listening to your fears.”

How often do I listen to my fears! I entertain them, let them occupy my thoughts. I let them pester me, inch closer to the “line”, and hover about me ready to bite.

What would happen if I stopped listening to them, if I ignored them?

Please don’t misunderstand. I do believe there is value in facing our fears and figuring out where they are coming from (what is their root). This brings healing. But I also see the value in simply ignoring them, in not listening to them. Why listen to them when I could listen to the loving voice of the Father or the truth of Christ or the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Surely that is more productive!

So today may you begin “ignoring” your fears. Stop listening to them. Spend time in prayer listening to the Lord who loves you and provides for you. His is a much stronger and gentler voice. Let it chase away the fears.

P.S. In defense of my brother, we get along quite well today despite all the pestering and ignoring that went on during childhood.


CherBear said...

How true it is! The longer I listen to my fears, the more they begin to control me, affecting the way I treat other people, the way I view myself, and even my relationship with God.

Anonymous said...

St. Paul of the Cross words are so profound and speak to me personally.

Being an anxiety prone worrier by nature, my first thought was to give up my fears for Lent!

My second thought was to actively pursue this freedom for life ... and I am now focused on living it.

His words will remain in my heart.