By Matt McDonald
I’ve heard that the message to “fear not” is mentioned 365 times in the Bible. While I’ve never counted to know if that’s true, I do know that I hear the words of today’s gospel many times, to not fear in readings I hear at Mass.
It’s good for someone like myself to be reminded of this message from God.
At times I could be labeled as someone with anxiety, a worrier. There are some fears I’m okay with. For example, each time I hear of a rollercoaster malfunctioning, I accept my fear of heights, falling and the possibility that one will break when I’m on it. I’m okay with being the one who doesn’t join my friends at Cedar Point.
But the fear that the Bible refers to is a different one.
For me it's a fear of my future. I went back to school last year and will be graduating in a year. So, what’s next for me? How will I pay for the student loans? While my friends are married and having children, I’m still single. None of this was how I had envisioned my life when I was younger. I had thought I would be in a good job with a family by this time.
Will my life ever be how I thought?
For me it's fears about finances, seeing friends and family struggle to earn enough to pay bills. It’s looking back at mistakes I’ve made with friends and wondering whether I harmed those friendships beyond repair. I look at the decisions I’ve made at my job, which can affect others lives, and worry if they were the right ones.
All fear comes from the unknowing, the lack of control. Like the millions who ride the Millennium Force at Cedar Point, I could easily say that it’s been fine before, everything will work out. However, the truth is I don’t fully trust. I want to know what’s going to happen. And in reality, I don’t just want things to work out, I want my life to play out how I want. Yet, I also don’t think I really want total control over my life with no help.
Living with the uncertainty and the misconception that I have the power to completely control my life is a heavy burden to carry and I need a constant reminder that whether I worry or not, the Lord takes care of me.
I once asked a priest, “How do I know if I’m making the decisions God wants me to make? It seems my life is full of chaos. I really wish God sent emails or texts but he doesn’t!” His response, after laughing at my honest comment, was to “keep doing what you’re doing.” After being frustrated for a while, having received such a vague answer, I realized the depth in what he said. I don’t have to “do” anything. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed in the struggles of life when I look at everything at once. But giving God the control, living without fear, is focusing on the today.
It is making reflective decisions, not reactive ones, and keeping God in the midst of every one of those decisions.
Comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey explains it well. His analogy to life is that the only way to achieve our goals is to jump and let God be our parachute. We might hit a few rocks on the way down, receive some scrapes and bruises, but we will make it where we’re meant to be. Things might not end up how I plan but that doesn’t mean things won’t work out. The Lord just asks me to jump, without fear. “Lord, I trust in you… help me with my unbelief, with my fear. Help me to have the courage to jump.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt is currently the Director of Finance and Operations at St. Adalbert Catholic Church in Berea, Ohio while attending Notre Dame College of Ohio for Business Administration. Throughout this time, he’s enjoyed volunteering in various high school youth ministry programs. His loves are coffee, craft beer, reading when time allows, and spending time with family and friends. His time with teens and love of art have taught him the need to look at people and things in life from another angle than what is first seen.