Each of us has a story.
Each of us lives a narrative.
If you are like me, you have two stories and live out two very different, some would say opposite, life narratives.
In my own spiritual autobiography published last year by Higher Ground Books and Media, I share how my life has been shaped by the opposing forces of fear and love. My book, “Love’s Resurrection: its power to roll away fear’s heaviest stone,” is mostly an account of what I call three Great Awakenings in my first 70 years of life.
At no point do I claim any total “wokeness” or deny my need for more Awakenings. But at this point in life I’ve at least begun to grasp something of a pattern. I enter my Awakenings with a faith in fear and doubt in love. I leave them with a faith in love and doubt in fear. In the course of my Awakenings I find myself shifting narratives. Living into a very different story than what I’ve just come out of.
Two opposing life narratives.
That’s one pattern.
Below the surface of my own life stories or narratives, I’ve come to understand a second and much deeper pattern. And it goes like this.
People in my world who are in the throes of their own fear story are able to induct me into their own faith, their own doubt, their own narrative. Generally these have been people in some position of authority. I say authority, but in all fairness their position may have been only that they are a couple years older, bigger, smarter, richer, better looking, or whatever. At least in my own mind they’ve had authority. A school bully stands out in my mind as one whom I early gave mental authority to. He was a big 4th grader when I was only in 2nd grade. When he spoke fear, I became afraid. I was inducted into his own fear story.
No matter my age, this pattern has continued. People in authority have ways of voicing one’s social discourse at every level. Theirs becomes the dominant discourse in our world, and from their fear discourse we discover our own fear story. I say “we” rather than only “me” because this pattern is on display in public life wherever we look. For example, a member of Congress becomes afraid of the President in his own Party in government. A dominant fear discourse becomes the personal fear story or narrative one lives out. I call such a process fear-mongering. It is what shapes our narratives, if we allow such to happen.
Jesus of Nazareth, per the Biblical accounts recorded in the Christian New Testament Bible, is one person who did not allow such to happen.
Because he didn’t, I believe there is good news for all of us who are tired of being afraid in this world. Tired of being defined by others’ voices in our public discourse. Tired of the fear-mongers and control-freaks out their claiming authority, and authoring our story for us. The context of life for Jesus of Nazareth was filled with both religious and political authorities claiming the power to control others, even Jesus. They would define and label and shape his own narrative. Or at least they would have.
But Jesus refused to play along.
He refused to live out of someone else’s fear story. Refused to put his faith in fear and his doubt in love. In his own mind, he refused to inform his decisions by the fears of the world around him. Rather, at every point he was informed by the love of heaven within himself. He got his story line from the inner whispers of heaven, not from the outer shouts of the world. He accepted God’s narrative for his life and the discourse of Spiritual authority. He rejected man’s narrative as assigned through the public discourse of human authority figures. His singular life narrative was author-ized by the Heavenly Father and Holy Spirit. His was only a love story.
Compare this with my own dual narratives of fear and love in opposition. And my need for three Great Awakenings and counting.
With each of my own Awakenings, I’ve had to intentionally choose not to follow the world. Like Jesus I have to consciously choose not to live out of the world’s faith in fear and doubt in love. Not to get inducted into the world’s narrative where control over others is seemingly right and good. Not to play along with fear-mongers and control-freaks. Rather, I have to accept God’s narrative for my life and the inner discourse of Spiritual authority. Which is where faith in love and doubt in fear originates. And which plants the seeds of heavenly influence where once my weeds of worldly control had grown.
For me, to follow Jesus has meant leaving the tomb of my own fear-mongering. Dying to my own bad habits as a control-freak.
Remembering my baptism. And rising again to my far better story and much truer narrative.