by Shana Lee Gibson, author of Red Feather’s newly released TLC for the Soul: 33 Inspiring Messages of Comfort with artist Gina Szafner.
The wind picked up, and the paddleboard rocked beneath my feet. Paddle in hand, I did my best to balance myself to stop from falling into the lake. My daughter also adjusted her weight behind me. When either of us moved slightly to one side without talking to the other first, the cold water splashed on us. My daughter laughed, I cringed. The reality didn’t match what I’d envisioned. In my imagination, I saw us crossing the lake like a sophisticated rowing team in tandem; instead, we were clumsy and arguing about who would paddle.
“If we can keep our balance, and pay attention to what the other is doing, we can prevent a fall,” I reassured my daughter, who was clearly less concerned than I was. We laughed and teased each other. She threatened to bounce on the board. Then we made it to the shore, satisfied with our adventure, me a little more frazzled than her. I reflected, “Had my adventurous spirit gone with age?”
Then I remembered my reasons for wanting to paddleboard, one being for the fun of it, and two, to overcome a fear of the water. Or as my subconscious mind likes to remind me, “the deep dark unknown where alien creatures lurk in wait of unsuspecting humans.” Even so, I determined not to give in and succumb to fear but to go out again the next day and the next until I became more comfortable.
In the past, I’ve talked myself out of water sports by telling myself, “Don’t all people have fears? It’s not a big deal; besides, the water can be dangerous, etc.” But I became a devotee 20 years ago and took an oath to live a fearless life, and I feel like my soul is calling me to give such things a try. Also, overcoming such fear, or at the very least confronting it, will boost my confidence and my belief in myself.
I resolved to keep focused on the goodness within me, believing in the beauty and truth of my heart’s small yet important desire.
The subconscious mind stores our fears, like incriminating documents tucked away in a back room that suddenly reappears during times of heightened uncertainty. Laying before us, they taunt, “What about this, huh?” Referring to a troubling memory. And, “How can you be strong and courageous with this in your past?” Referring to a slight indiscretion. “When’s the last time you were fearless?” Pointing out irrelevant situations.
These voices tempt us to give in to fear, to stop learning, and ultimately weaken our belief that we have what it takes to overcome the challenges we encounter. As a result, we may feel we are powerless to respond to what’s happening around us, and we may stop taking chances, having fun, or seeking to make a difference.
COVID19, for example, awakened fear in many of us around the world, all at the same time. A foreign virus, in lurk of unsuspecting humans, shakes us to the core, threatening our way of life regardless of our beliefs, upbringing, or qualifications. Yet, while we experienced waves of uncertainty, apprehension, anxiety, hope, and relief as we bonded through social media posts, we’ve also realized our resilience and ability to adapt. In self-isolation, many have renewed their faith in a higher power, spent time doing things they love, tried new things, and bonded with their family. Some have even re-invented themselves completely, leaving their old way of life behind.
Essentially, in the face of fear, we’ve become a tighter-knit, large world family, more conscientious with our actions, and aware of how much power one carefully chosen action can have. While we had to stay home, we could determine our attitudes. We were aware that small collective efforts make a big difference and that there might be a higher purpose for all things. We’ve also realized that three squares of toilet paper can go a long way.
Now the virus is less present, and as the shops and schools are beginning to reopen we’ve begun asking each other, “Will things go back to the way they were before?” I believe the answer is up to you and me and what we’ll choose for our lives. Nature shows us that we live in cycles of creation and dissolution. What happens in between is somewhat up to us. Maybe what seemed reasonable was the status quo and not fully representative of who we are in truth. Possibly we fell into a lull, an everyday routine, and without realizing it, we lost our footing as we strived to balance between what others wanted for us and our own ideals.
The Divine seems to always be testing our balance and strength to see what we’ll lean on, what we’ll agree to, and where we’ll look for the answers we seek. It’s as if Divinity is asking, “Will you believe in yourself and a spiritual source? Will you trust me enough to ask tough questions and act on your intuition, especially when the answers are different than you expect? Do you want help to overcome your fears?”
In other words, we need a willingness to grow so that when outer voices challenge, “How can you be sure you’ll make it?” we’ll listen to the inner voice of our soul and spirit, saying, “Leap!”
When we leapt recently, we found ourselves in another movement, Black Lives Matter. We’ve seen how, when we stop addressing what scares us, we give up hope of ever creating vital change. We hand over our voice and our power. You and I have choices. Do we listen to fears, and heed their advice to stay comfortable, lose our peace, and give up our creative resourcefulness? Or, do we risk a fall into the cold, dark waters of fear because we’ve vowed to live a full and purposeful life, one that everyone regardless of skin color or background deserves to live? Do we finally claim every person’s Divinity by going beyond prejudice?
Quite possibly, when we feel immense fear, we may be on the cusp of a great awakening. One where we become an example, a helper, one who reassures others that the trip across the lake is worth it, even as the waves lap up against the paddleboard and get us wet! Yes, we’ll laugh, cry and worry, but as we trust ourselves and the Divine who always accompanies us, we’ll adventure beyond old reactions and stale opinions of how life should be.
We’ll start seeing the potential of who we can become.
Shana Lee Gibson is a spiritual mentor, inspirational figure, and writer devoted to helping you live your God-given purpose by bringing attention to the still, small voice within you, through Divine Spiritual Inquiry and Guided Meditation. Learn more on her website www.shanaleegibson.com.